After three ~1,000m climbs in less than a week to various summits, the idea of being able to drive up to nearly 1,000m above sea level before starting a walk appealed. Rather than spending a couple of hours of hard hiking to the bush line I could reach it in twenty minutes.
This is possible from Inwood Lookout, at the edge of the Gordon Range, part of the Richmond Ranges relatively close to Nelson. At 972m above sea level this is the highest fire lookout in the country, built in 1970 to keep a close eye on the extensive Golden Downs Forest below.
Reaching it was a bit of an adventure in a Toyota Corolla as it’s a borderline 4WD / 2WD drive up to the lookout. Wai-iti Road isn’t particularly obvious, or at least not to me, as I ended up on some very rough forestry roads (with a few views) before I finally found the right way up to the lookout.
From here it’s a 3-4 hour walk to Hunters Hut, part of the Te Araroa Trail spanning the length of New Zealand. I just spent a couple of hours climbing up over 500m to an unnamed summit at 1,502m for the views before returning to my car. Out of the bush line the views were immediately impressive.
And got more so as I headed up the mountainside.
The track was mostly straightforward but got a little steep in a couple of places.
It was amazing how quickly it went from bush to true alpine, a rocky barren looking landscape, with big views in every direction.
I wandered along to the highest close point to see over toward the Red Hills before turning back as the clouds were starting to gather.