Barnicoat's breathtaking views worth the walk

The view from the top of Barnicoat
Katrina Tikey

The view from the top of Barnicoat

The breath-taking views from Barnicoat Hill are without a doubt, worth the hike.

An information board at the summit states the altitude is 620 metres – but don't let that put you off. Even if you don't regard yourself as being fit, it's definitely attainable. 

Last weekend, Nelson put on one of those stunning winter days it's renown for. The morning started with a frost and not a breath of wind. After the sun made an appearance the temperature rose and the sky remained clear and blue for the remainder of the day. 

A parapenter descends from Barnicoat
Katrina Tikey

A parapenter descends from Barnicoat

It was a perfect day for a walk. Recently, a friend posted photos on Facebook of her walk up Barnicoat Hill. It looked amazing, with views that stretched for miles. I was keen to see it for myself. And I was hoping to strike a day when wind conditions would be ideal for paragliders to launch from the hilltop.

Barnicoat's grassy summit is a popular spot for paragliders. Mountain bikers also head to the peak to access the tracks 'Widdershins' and Involution'. And the 4.2km uphill walk also attracts walkers and runners. 

The Barnicoat track starts from the carpark at the end of Marsden Valley Road in Stoke. It crosses a wooden bridge before joining a 4WD road, 'Glider Road,' which winds its way through pine forest. 

There are a few steep sections, but mostly it's a gradual incline. Gorgeous glimpses over Tasman Bay provide perfect opportunities to stop for photo breaks.

If I'm honest, after 50 minutes, I was starting to wonder how much further? However I could see I was gaining height when looking at the view to my right. Nelson Airport, Monaco and Rabbit Island looked tiny.

A couple of unused forestry skid sites along the way provided flat areas where a few people chose to have a break. Near the second skid site paragliders flying overhead created random shadows across the track.

The soft sound of wind flapping against fabric filled the air. I heard the occasional whistle from a contented pilot gliding high on thermal currents.

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The track opened up to an incredible panorama. Numerous elliptical shaped canopies of various colours were dotted about the sky. Pilots sitting in harnesses suspended below fabric wings were skillfully gaining altitude in upward currents of warm air.

Spectators, instructors and paragliders were scattered about the summit. It was a superb spot to sit and watch thrill seekers enjoying their flights. 

Being able to enjoy a birds eye view certainly made it worth having aching leg muscles the following few days!

 - Stuff

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