Manawatū-Whanganui trail notes


Tongariro Alpine Crossing

NiwaWeather - Tongariro Alpine Crossing


The Tongariro Alpine Crossing track passes over varied and spectacular volcanic terrain. Trek across a volcanic alpine landscape of dramatic contrasts – steaming vents, glacial valleys, ancient lava flows, alpine vegetation and vivid crater lakes, all with stunning views. Be prepared for a long and challenging day out.

Tongariro National Park is a UNESCO dual World Heritage Area and was the first in the world to receive cultural World Heritage Status.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing - 19.4km / 8 hours

  • Note: Te Araroa track descriptions work from North to South whereas the Department of Conservation encourages trampers to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the other direction – from South to North. So be aware, the crossing is a very popular tramp and following these instructions, you will be going against the tide.
Route from South to North - Te Araroa northbound - Mangatepopo to Ketetahi

This challenging trip begins at 1120m. It climbs the Mangatepopo Valley to the saddle between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngāuruhoe, through South Crater before climbing again to Red Crater, the highest point on the crossing at 1886m.

You will then descend on a volcanic rock scree track to the vivid Emerald Lakes, known as Ngarotopounamu (greenstone-hued lakes). After passing Blue Lake, also known as Te Wai-whakaata-o-te-Rangihīroa (Rangihīroa’s mirror), the track sidles around the northern slope of Tongariro, then descends in a zigzag track past Ketetahi Shelter and down to the road end at 760m. 

Route from North to South - Te Araroa southbound - Ketetahi to Mangatepopo

From the Ketetahi Road end, the track goes through a cool podocarp-hardwood forest which is a relaxed contrast to the coming long ascent to the Ketetahi Shelter. The track travels alongside a stream polluted with minerals from Ketetahi Springs and, at two points, passes over the tongue of a lava flow from Te Maari Crater.

From the forest bush line, the track winds its way up and up and up, through tussock slopes past the Ketetahi Springs to the Ketetahi Shelter.

  • Note: The Ketetahi Springs are on private land. The Ketetahi Trust, representing the landowners, has permitted trekkers to cross part of their land but this does not include access to Ketetahi Springs. Please respect this restraint and follow the poled route.

From the Ketetahi Shelter, the track ascends further before sidling down around the flanks of North Crater to the Blue Lake and over the Mars-like Central Crater. Then it’s past the three water-filled explosion craters called the Emerald Lakes; their brilliant greenish colour is caused by minerals which have leached from the adjoining thermal area. The Tongariro Northern Circuit track to Oturere Hut branches off to the left at the lowest lake.

Taking care on the loose stones and gravel on the track as you ascend steeply to the summit of Red Crater (1886m), the highest point on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. You can also smell the sulphur, evidence that Red Crater is still active.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing track then continues along a poled route down the ridge leading to South Crater. 

  • Note: Department of Conservation advises walkers to stay on marked tracks and not attempt to climb the summits of Mt Ngāuruhoe and Mt Tongariro. The mountains are sacred to local Māori tribes and they respectfully ask that summits are not climbed.

From Mangatepopo Saddle between Mount’s Ngāuruhoe and Tongariro, you can be rewarded, on a clear day, by views of Mt Taranaki to the west. Then it’s a steep descent (down the Devil’s Staircase) to the head of the Mangatepopo Valley where a short side track leads to Soda Springs. The track then makes its way down the Mangatepopo Valley, at a gentle gradient alongside a stream and around the edges of old lava flows.

For Te Araroa through walkers, the turnoff to the Mangatepopo Track to Whakapapa is 200m further on from the Mangatepopo Hut sidetrack. 

The carpark at Mangatepopo Road is 1km (15 minutes) from the Mangatepopo Track turnoff.

Winter conditions

You need to be skilled and prepared to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, especially during winter. An ice axe and crampons are essential, as is competency using them. 

Nature and conservation

This is the perfect habitat for a variety of New Zealand’s native birds. In forested areas, you may see bellbird/korimakotūīNew Zealand robin/toutouwaitomtit/miromirofantail/pīwakawaka, and maybe New Zealand's smallest bird the rifleman/titipounamu. For hikes wanting to experience the Tongariro Crossing as a day hike rather than a part of Te Araroa there are shuttle bus options from Turangi, Tokaanu, Whakapapa and Ohakune. Part of the shuttle fee of about $40 helps the Department of Conservation with conservation projects.

History and culture

All waterways including the lakes on Tongariro and his peaks Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu are sacred to local iwi, Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro. Kaumātua Te Ngaehe Wanikau asks visitors to the area to respect the sanctity of the maunga tapu (sacred mountains) by not touching or entering any of the waterways including the alpine lakes. Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro places extreme importance on their guardian role in protecting Tongariro and his peaks.

Ngātoroirangi, the founding ancestor of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, the local iwi (Māori tribe), ascended the great mountains of the Central Plateau 30 generations ago. It was then that he named Tongariro and the many features of the surrounding landscape, declaring this area as home for his descendants. It is from these beginnings that Ngāti Tūwharetoa maintains its intrinsic responsibility to protect the mountainous area to which they belong.

The generosity and foresight of Ngāti Tūwharetoa saw the heart of the mountainous area made sacrosanct in 1887, with the intent that the Crown would stand alongside Ngāti Tūwharetoa to ensure the continued protection of Tongariro. This led to the establishment of the Tongariro National Park in 1894, a first for New Zealand, and fourth in the world. 

In 1993, Tongariro became the first property to be inscribed on the World Heritage List under the revised criteria describing cultural landscapes. The mountains at the heart of the park have cultural and spiritual significance to Ngāti Tūwharetoa and symbolise the spiritual links between this community and its environment. The park has active and extinct volcanoes, a diverse range of ecosystems and some remarkable landscapes. 

The continued occupation by Ngāti Tūwharetoa in this environment ensures the cultural, spiritual and environmental values are protected and shared with all those who encounter this dynamic landscape.


You will need to be skilled and prepared to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Northern Circuit and Round the Mountain tracks in winter. An ice axe and crampons are essential, as is competency using them.

Potential hazards

  • Always check the weather forecast and take local advice as weather can change quickly and drastically.
  • Always carry extra-warm, wind-proof clothing, safety and navigational equipment.
  • Pole route markers may be difficult to see in foggy conditions.
  • Water from the upper Mangatepopo stream, Emerald Lakes and Ketetahi Springs is not suitable for drinking due to the high mineral content. Treat all water in the park.
  • Winter tramping: Be fully equipped with an ice axe, crampons, avalanche probe/snow shovel/transceiver.
  • From the beginning of 26 October (Labour Day weekend) to 30 April, parking restrictions (4-hour maximum) are in place at the road-ends - book a shuttle if you are not through-hiking.
  • Over winter, additional hazards are present:
    • Snow and ice
    • Avalanche risk
    • Sub-zero temperatures.

No dogs, horses, guns or bikes. No drones.

How to tramp in winter: Tongariro Alpine Crossing | Tongariro Northern Circuit | Round the Mountain Track

General Information

For those taking a modified route, YHA Ōhakune Station Lodge is a 1906 historical villa located in the beautiful alpine town of Ōhakune, adjacent to the world-renowned Tongariro National Park. Guests enjoy the use of extensive facilities including shared and private rooms, full kitchen amenities and two lounges. During the brilliant Central Plateau summers, the outdoor woodfire pizza oven is fired up. Guests can enjoy friendly games of cricket or simply relax on the verandas overlooking the peaceful native gardens while taking in the views of Mt Ruapehu.

Getting to/from the start

The Whanganui region starts at the carpark at the northern end of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, 1km off SH 46, Tongariro National Park.

Local transport / Shuttle Services

There are several shuttle companies providing morning pick-ups from nearby towns and delivery to the track start, such as National Park, Ōhakune, Tūrangi and Taupō. They include:

  • Tongariro Expeditions - Shuttle service to the Tongariro Crossing - P: 07 377 0435 - E: (to/from Taupō, Tūrangi, Ketetahi, Whakapapa) - Multiple return times from the Northern end of the track (6 km from the Holiday Park).
  • Mountain Shuttle - (door to door shuttle from Tūrangi, Tokaanu, Whakapapa and Ketetahi) - P: 0800 11 76 86 freephone

We recommend booking a shuttle as there is a 4-hour parking restriction at both Mangatepopo and Ketetahi Road ends. 

Accommodation (before start of Tongariro Alpine Crossing)

  • Tongariro Family Holiday Park - State Highway 47, Tongariro - P: 07 386 8062 - Camping, cabins and units.  Highly recommended spot to rest up and recoup between 42 Traverse and Tongariro Alpine Crossing.  Halfway point between Taumarunui and National Park


  • Old Ketetahi Shelter site - due to extensive damage in the 2012 eruption this is no longer a hut. Toilets are available but there is no longer a water supply and no accommodation.
  • Department of Conservation Mangatepopo Hut - needs to be booked online or by visiting/phoning any Department of Conservation Visitor Centre. 20 bunks, heating and gas in peak season. Topo50 map sheet BH36, E1824389, N5663908

Please note that freedom camping at Ketetahi Road and Mangatepopo Road ends is not allowed.

Getting back from the end

The Whanganui section of Te Araroa ends at Bulls. It is on Highway 1 so is well serviced by long haul buses, as above.

Essential gear list 

  • Consider a compass and map (in poor visibility)
  • Waterproof raincoat and over-trousers
  • Warm woollen or polypropylene clothing
  • Woollen hat and mittens
  • Sturdy boots (sports trainers/running shoes and sandals are not suitable)
  • Food and drink
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen, sunhat and sunglasses


Water from the upper Mangatepopo stream, Emerald Lakes and Ketetahi Springs is not suitable for drinking due to high mineral content. There is no drinkable water available between the head of the Mangatepopo Valley and Mangatepopo Hut. Respect the water supply at Mangatepopo Hut, as this is limited and is the supply for those staying at the Hut. Treat all water in the park.

Winter tramping

  • Ice axe and crampons (and know how to use them)
  • Snow gaiters
  • Avalanche probe/snow shovel in winter
  • Avalanche transceiver

Flora and fauna

The Soda Springs are an oasis for the moisture-loving yellow buttercups and white foxgloves. The porous surface of new lava, its blacker colour absorbing much of the sun’s heat, is a harsh environment for plants. Simple colonising mosses and lichens are the first to establish, followed years later by successively larger plants each taking advantage of the slow build-up of precious soil. This succession of plant communities is evident on the lava flows of varying ages that have flowed from the crater of Ngāuruhoe.

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Mangatepopo to National Park

NiwaWeather - Tongariro Visitor Centre


Mangatepopo Track - 9km / 3-4 hours

200m past the turnoff to the Mangatepopo Hut, turn southwest onto the Mangatepopo Track.

For the first hour, the track skirts around Pukekaikiore then continues southwest across exposed tussock and shrubland. 

About 20 minutes before reaching the Whakapapa village, the track joins the lower Taranaki Falls Track.

Follow it in an easterly direction until it ends at Ngāuruhoe Place (100m below the Whakapapa Visitor Centre), Whakapapa Village. 

Whakapapaiti Mangahuia Track - 13.5km / 5-6 hours

The track traverses forest, wetlands and open tussock lands. Can be boggy in the wet. The track may be rutted.

Leave the Whakapapa Village on Whakapapaiti Track. It starts opposite the Fire Station, just above the Holiday Park and 250m from the Whakapapa Visitor Centre.

Initially, the track flows easily and descends through groves of kaikawaka and cabbage trees amongst the beech forest. 

The track then descends through an open area to a bridged river crossing over the Whakapapaiti Stream before coming across a track intersection.

Turn right (northwest) onto the Mangahuia Track and head to the Mangahuia campsite (2-3 hours). There are a few stream crossings on this track, easy to cross in dry weather but can be difficult when the streams are high - take care and be prepared to wait for levels to drop.

From the Mangahuia campsite, walk 500m north on the vehicle track to join SH47. Turn left (west) and follow the road for 6km to the junction with SH4. Turn right (north) into the National Park Village, then turn left (west) onto Findlay Street. It flows into Station Road. At the very end is National Park Railway Station.

Potential Hazards

  • Vehicles on road or track
  • Poisons and traps
  • River crossings - Never cross flooded rivers
  • Small stream crossings
  • Track exposed to sun, wind or cold
  • Weather extremes
  • Few water sources - avoid drinking from streams with high mineral content.

General Information

For those walkers detouring to complete the Round the Mountain track or northbound walkers who are bussing and hiking from Whanganui, accommodation is available in Raetihi.

Getting there/away

Transport to trailheads


  • DOC's Mangahuia Campsite - 500m off SH 47. Water, toilets and a shelter. Purchase campsite tickets at a Department of Conservation office before your walk. Grid reference: NZTM2000, E1813334-N5660336)
  • Raetihi Holiday Park - 10 Parapara Road, Raetihi - P: 0800 40 88 88 
  • YHA National Park, 4 Findlay St, National Park - P: 07 8922870 E:
  • Howards Lodge BBH - 43 Carroll St, National Park - P: 07 892 2827 - E:
  • Manowhenua Lodge - Cnr of Carroll and Mackenzie Sts, National Park - P: 07 892 2854 - E:
  • Whakapapa Holiday Park - Fully serviced campground nestled in the heart of Tongariro National Park, surrounded by beautiful native trees and rivers. Plenty of bird life. For the Te Araroa walkers we have tent sites, backpacker rooms and a lodge that sleeps 32. Te Araroa walkers get 10% off their stay with us and we make sure to put you in a quiet part of the park, if possible.  Our onsite coffee and food cart is a welcome sight when walking up Bruce Road, tired and hungry. We are also happy to offer 10% off the total food bill.  Check out the facebook page for all contact details

Backpackers and Tent sites

  • Plateau Lodge - 17 Carroll St, National Park Village - P: 0800 861 861 freephone or 07 892 2993 - E:
  • Kaitieke monument Accommodation - P: 07 8956094, 42 Upper Rētāruke Road, Kaitieke. Accommodation options available are:
    • 1. Water, A place to pitch a tent plus flushing toilet, shower and washing machine facility - $15.00, 
    • 2. Water, Shower, Flushing toilet, washing machine, Hot meal and basic breakfast with the option of a bed - $30.00

Accommodation suppliers can also help with Jet Boat bookings for the Whanganui River.


  • National Park Service Centre - 1 Waimarino Tokaanu Rd, National Park - P: 07 892 2879 - E:

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National Park to Whanganui River

NiwaWeather - John Coull Hut


From National Park Railway Station, head north up Ward Street for 430m, then west onto Carroll Street and over the railway tracks at the crossing.

Fisher Track - 15km / 5-6 hours

Turn right onto Fisher Road. Walk 30 minutes down Fisher Road until the turnoff for the Tupapakurua Falls Track (left side of the road and is an optional, easy 20-minute diversion to the Taranaki Lookout).

Continue on Fisher Track westward and largely downhill dropping from 800m to 400m. It eventually joins Kurua Road for 3½km (a metalled road in deer farming country) which runs alongside Tupapakurua Stream for a while until reaching Rētāruke Road.

  • Note: It is a mix of well-formed track, rough tramping track and gravel road

Kurua Rd to Whakahoro- 37km / 8-9 hours

From the junction of Kurua and Rētāruke Roads, walk north on Upper Rētāruke Road for 12km. At the intersection with Oio Road (there is a toilet available here), turn left (west) onto Oio Road and follow it for the next 24.5km (mostly alongside the Rētāruke River) to Whakahoro, on the banks of the Whanganui River. This section can be hot and tiring in summer, with little or no water sources. Plan and carry plenty of water.

Entering the Whanganui River at Whakahoro is a more cost-effective option than having a kayak/canoe delivered to Mangapurua Landing - discuss with canoe/kayak hire operators.

Mangapurua-Kaiwhakauka Track (from Whakahoro to the Mangapurua Landing) - 40km / 13 hours

(i.e. 7 hours from Whakahoro to the Mangapurua Trig; 6 hours from the Trig to Mangapurua Landing).

A combined walking/cycleway, this track follows former road lines and makes for easy walking. It leads up the Kaiwhakauka Valley to the Mangapurua Trig. There it joins the Mangapurua Track - which descends through the Mangapurua Valley to meet the Whanganui River at the Mangapurua Landing.

From Whakahoro the track follows the disused road along the true left bank of the Whanganui River for 1km, before turning sharply into the Kaiwhakauka Valley. The track follows along and crosses the Kaiwhakauka Stream over an old wooden bridge. It continues along the true left bank of the stream up to the head of the Kaiwhakauka Valley.

  • Note: Care should be taken not to disturb stock and gates should be left as found when crossing farmland.

On reaching the junction of the old Kaiwhakauka, Mangapurua and Ruatiti/Ōhura Roads, keep to the right to drop down into the Mangapurua. A side track leads to the Mangapurua Trig, the highest point in the area. On a fine day, there are sweeping views of Tongariro National Park to the east and Mt Taranaki / Egmont to the west. Mangapurua Trig is your best opportunity to get a phone signal if you need to confirm a canoe pickup time at Mangapurua Landing

From here the track winds steadily down into the valley where the track meets and stays on the true left bank of the Mangapurua Stream. Continuing along the old road line the track crosses numerous side streams and the valley progressively closes in (When the track is freshly maintained, the rocks can be slippery when wet. Care should be taken in negotiating these sections and beware of falling rocks).

At the lower end of the valley, the track crosses to the true right bank of the stream over the historic "Bridge to Nowhere”. This is a large concrete bridge built in 1936, but is now standing abandoned in the bush in the middle of "Nowhere".

This last section of the track is formed to walking track standard and is often used by river travellers to visit the "Bridge to Nowhere". 

Beyond the bridge, continue for another 40 minutes as the track follows the true right bank of the Mangapurua Stream and then leads along the true left bank of the Whanganui River to reach the Mangapurua Landing.

  • Note: Mangapurua Landing is a dead-end for walkers. River transport is the only option for those travelling south from Mangapurua Landing. You must pre-book this so jetboats can deliver kayaks or canoes to Mangapurua Landing for you.

 Potential hazards

  • Vehicles on road or track - bikes in particular.
  • Poisons and traps
  • Small stream crossings
  • Track exposed to sun, wind or cold
  • Few water sources between National Park and Whakahoro
  •  Mangapurua-Kaiwhakauka track condition:

    • During the winter this track can be subject to wet and muddy conditions.
    • Slips may be present in lower sections of the track.
    • Please contact the Department of Conservation Whanganui Area Office with any inquiries: Phone: (06) 349 2100

Transport to Trailheads

There are no facilities of any type at the Kurua-Rētāruke Rd end of this track. Trampers need to be totally independent and make their own pre-arrangements for food, shelter or pick-ups.

Access Points:

  • Whakahoro can be reached by road from SH4, turning off at either Ōwhango or Raurimu. 

  • Alternatively, access to the Mangapurua Trig may be gained by walking in from Ruatiti Road. Track start is on the western side (approximately 15km from the southern start of the road), off Raetihi-Ōhura Rd, off SH4, north of Raetihi.

River Travel 

Should you wish to travel from Whakahoro to Mangapurua Landing by the river, you must pre-book so jetboats can pick you up or deliver kayaks to you. 

General information - For local information and a list of suppliers, contact:

Whanganui i-Site, 31 Taupō Quay, Whanganui - P: +6 349-0508 - E:

The distances and campsite options when travelling by river are:

  • Whakahoro to Mangapapa campsite - 11 kilometres
  • Mangapapa to Ohauora campsite - 16 kilometres
  • Ohauora to John Coull Hut - 10.5 kilometres
  • John Coull Hut to Mangawaiiti campsite - 9.5 kilometres
  • Mangawaiiti to Mangapurua campsite - 9 kilometres

DOC Great Walk Facilities 

Tickets must be purchased before departure via or Department of Conservation offices.


  • DOC's Whakahoro Bunkroom and campsite - 10 bunks - Basic category, mattresses, lighting but no heating or gas. Water, toilet, a shelter for cooking and picnic table. Grid reference: Topo50 map sheet BJ32, E1765226, N5655601.
  • DOC's Mangapurua Landing campsite - 10 tent sites - Great walk category, water, toilet, a shelter for cooking and picnic table. Topo50 Grid reference: NZTM2000, E1769629 - N5650103

Note: DOC's Whanganui journey, hut and camp passes can be ordered by phone, fax, email, post or in person from Department of Conservation Visitor and Information centres nationwide. - - Tongariro Whanganui Conservancy Office - P: 07 384 7106

  • Basic campsites - open grassy flats ideal for camping - some pit toilets and stream water:
    • Mangapurua Trig Campsite
    • Johnsons Campsite
    • Bettjeman's Campsite
  • Kaitieke monument Accommodation - P: 07 8956094, 42 Upper Rētāruke Road, Kaitieke. Accommodation options available are:
    • 1. Water, A place to pitch a tent plus flushing toilet, shower and washing machine facility - $15.00, 
    • 2. Water, Shower, Flushing toilet, washing machine, Hot meal and basic breakfast with the option of a bed - $30.00

Getting away

Pre-booked river transport is the only option.

To kayak from Whakahoro to Mangapurua Landing (or beyond), pre-book so jetboats can pick you up or deliver kayaks to you.

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Whanganui River


The Whanganui River winds its way from the mountains to the Tasman Sea through countless hills and valleys. Lowland forest surrounds the river in its middle and lower reaches, forming the heart of Whanganui National Park. Although a river journey, the Whanganui is part of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” network.

River transport is the only option from Mangapurua Landing to Pipiriki. You must pre-book this so jetboats can deliver kayaks or canoes to Mangapurua Landing for you.

  • Note: Do not canoe the river when water levels are rising or it's in flood. If you capsize you may not be able to get back in or swim to the river's edge; Vehicles on road, stick to the left and single file if biking on the road. 

Recommended that you discuss the details of your journey - launch point, itinerary and exit point - with your chosen kayak/canoe hire operator. They will have valuable advice about where to stay and how far to attempt each day based on your own abilities.

From Pipiriki to Whanganui city, there are 3 options:

  • 1. Walk the Whanganui River Road (62 km of tar sealed country road to SH4 then a further 16km to Whanganui; 3-4 days walking *)
  • 2. Bike the Whanganui River Road (62 km of tar sealed country road to SH4 then a further 16km to Whanganui; 1-2 days cycling *)
  • 3. Continue by the river, however you will need to confirm an exit point with your kayak/canoe provider as there are fewer landings on this southern part of the river. (They can also advise you on accommodation options as these may need to be pre-booked).

* Those taking option 1 or 2. From the end of Whanganui River Road turn right to follow SH4 south and enter Upokongaro which is approximately 3.5km from the turnoff. The Upokongaro Cycle and Walking Bridge is now open (2/12/2020), and all walkers and cyclists should use this route instead of continuing along SH4. Follow the green cycle markings on the left hand side of the road, which will take you left, down and under the SH4 bridge across the Upokongaro Stream to the cycle bridge across the Whanganui river.

The route to Whanganui thereafter is off road along the western (true right) bank through Papaiti. It will follow its own trail under the trees and away from the road. There is a designated and marked crossing. Care should be taken crossing, as this is a road frequently used by logging trucks. Upon entering the city boundary, you will soon come across the Top 10 Holiday Park, which is approximately 7km from the city centre. This is the usual landing point for kayak and canoe paddlers

From the Top 10 Holiday Park continue down the right bank of the river on Somme Parade.  The current Te Araroa map suggests crossing to the left bank on the Dublin Street Bridge, but this is not necessary. It may be preferable to continue on Somme Parade to pass the i-SITE, and along Taupo Quay to the intersection with Victoria Avenue and the City Bridge.  From this point there is a Countdown supermarket 200m ahead or walk up Victoria Avenue for Pak'n Save and other supermarkets, cafés and fast food. 

Te Araroa continues across the City Bridge and the Durie Hill Elevator

Distances between huts/campsites/exit points are as follows (with indicative times, though will vary person-to-person):

  • Mangapurua to Tīeke Kāinga - 10.5km, 2 hours
  • Tīeke Kāinga to Ngāporo campsite - 12.5km, 2.5 hours 
  • Ngāporo to Pipiriki - 9km, 1.5 hours
  • Pipikiri to Jerusalem - 10.5km, 2 hours
  • Jerusalem to Matahiwi Landing - 11km, 2 hours
  • Matahiwi Landing to Koriniti Pā - 7km, 1.5 hours
  • Koriniti Pā to Pungarehu Marae - 26.5km, 5 hours
  • Pungarehu Marae to Upokongaro - 24km, 5 hours
  • Upokongaro to Whanganui Top 10 Holiday Park - 4.5km, 45 minutes
  • Whanganui Top 10 Holiday Park to City Bridge - 7km, 1.25 hours

Potential hazard:

  • Don't canoe the river when water levels are rising or it's in flood. If you capsize you may not be able to get back in or swim to the edge of the river; Vehicles on road, stick to the left and single file if biking on the road. 
  • Vehicles on road or track - stick to the left and single file if biking on roads.
  • Tides, waves and rivers - safer at low tide. Be aware of tides if staying on the river all the way to Whanganui
  • River crossings - Never cross flooded rivers and don’t canoe the river when water levels are rising or it’s in flood. If you capsize you may not be able to get back in nor swim to the river’s edge.
  • Track exposed to sun, wind or cold
  • Fires only in designated fireplaces. 

No dogs allowed

General information

For background information on the Whanganui Journey and to use the facilities provided by the Department of Conservation, contact


Canoe and kayak hire:

For help with transfers, bikes and kayaks from Pipiriki to Whanganui and surrounding areas:

Note: Should kayakers wish to continue beyond Pungarehu Marae and can make arrangements with their kayak suppliers, other landings might be:

  • A jetty at Upokongaro (that the paddleboat Waimarie uses); it is a little high above the river at low tide though.

  • A Top 10 Campsite on the river about 3-4 km from Whanganui town.

Amenities Between Mangapurua and Pipiriki including accommodation:

Amenities between Pipiriki and the southern end of Whanganui River Road including accommodation

  • Whanganui River Adventures - (Pipiriki Camping ground and Cabins) and Jetboat/Canoe transfers - 2522 Pipiriki Village, Pipiriki - P: 0800 862743 freephone or 06 3853246
  • Jerusalem/Hiruharama Convent / Backpackers - Whanganui River Rd, Jerusalem - P: 06 342 8190 Old Convent, Jerusalem
  • Ruth Baisley at Jerusalem welcomes campers - 5038 Whanganui River Rd - P: 06 342 8284. $15pp/night with toilet and a small shop with hot food, drinks and icecream.
  • Kauika Campsite - Rānana, behind the marae - P: 06 342 8061 (Terry) - Warm showers, kitchen, laundry
  • Matahiwi Gallery Cafe and AccommodationFour cabins and designated tent sites. Cooking facility, shower, toilets. Eftpos available. Seasonal hours – Open from beginning of October to end of April. Contact P: 06 342 8112 or P: 06 342 8116.
  • The Flying Fox - eco-friendly cottages, glamping and camping - accessible by road or river. Secure bike storage available. Access from the road is via aerial cableway. From river - look for signs/flags on right bank 500m downstream from Koriniti. Camping from $10pn.   Bush setting. Hot showers, camp kitchen, shop, free Wi-Fi. Catering by pre-arrangement, booking advised for cottages in summer. Ideal place for a rest day. N.B. camping often may be exchanged for work instead of cash.  3081 Whanganui River Rd, RD6 - P: 06 927 6809 - E:
  • Te Punga Homestead - 2929 Whanganui River Rd, Whanganui - P: 06 3428239 - E: - Self-contained cottage or camping. Located 2km south of Koroniti - food parcels can be arranged in advance
  • Rivertime Lodge - self-contained cottage (sleeps 4), plus 3x two-bedroom cabins, freshwater, toilet and shower - 1569 Whanganui River Rd (the farm is marked "Omaka" on the gate) - Phone contact is 021 296 9322, Email is - located just south of Atene, good river access just past the Tauterata Shingle Bank - food parcels can be arranged in advance and pre-booking is advised.

i-SITE can advise on other private accommodation options (pre-booking is advised).

DOC can advise on the one public campsite. 


General Information

All services are available in Whanganui. There's a full range of accommodation, including a Top 10 Campsite on the river about 7 km from the town.

Getting there/away

  • InterCity - P: 09 583 5780 - E:
  • Whanganui Airport - Airport Rd, Whanganui - P: 06 348 0536 - Main Airline servicing the city is Air Chathams ( which flies to and from Auckland only. If you wish to travel to other NZ cities you will need to fly from Palmerston North


Local Transport


  • New World - 374 Victoria Ave, Whanganui - P: 06 349 0990 
  • Pak N Save Supermarket - 167 Glasgow St - P: 06 349 1230
  • Night and Day - 24 Hours - 446 Victoria Ave
  • Countdown - 100 Taupō Quay and 433 Victoria Ave
  • Binn In - Whole Sale Foods - 200 Victoria Ave

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Whanganui to Bulls


As you come out of Whanganui, take No 2 Line Road which can be accessed by the following options:

  • 1. Crossing the City Bridge from Taupo Quay at Victoria Avenue
  • 2. Climbing the Durie Hill (355) steps to the tower at the top, or
  • 3. Taking the Durie Hill Elevator (closed Christmas Day). 8am-6pm Mon-Fri. 10am-5pm Sat and Sun. $2 charge.

If you take the steps or elevator following Durie Street to Portal Street, this then carries on to N02 Line. Walk to Fordell which is approx 14kms, turn right onto Warrengate Road for approximately 4km and walk to SH3. Turn left and walk for 3km and cross the Whangaehu River Bridge. Turn right across the bridge into Whangaehu Beach Road and walk to the end. Go through the gate and carry on following the track to the beach. From Whangaehu to the Beach is approximately 8km. Turn left and walk along the beach till you get to the Turakina River (cross between markers). Check tide ( and cross at low tide. You will reach the beach settlement of Koitiata.

Santoft Route - 18km / 7-8 hours

Head south along the beach. Look for a marker by a stream bed after approximately 13.5km, at km 1423.5 (v40). There are other tracks entering the forest that do not fit the current Te Araroa route. If you get to the fire lookout you have gone too far by about 1km, go back, do not enter the bomb range. 

Then turn left and follow the blaze markings to the forest road. Follow the forest road which leads southeast for approximately 2.5kms until you come across Raumai Road, then walk for approximately 11km to Bulls Township.

Fire is serious threat to these forests.  For safety reasons camping and fires are not permitted on the beach and through the exotic forest.

Potential hazards

  • Vehicles on road or track. Take extreme care on SH3, and heading into Bulls
  • Farming operations
  • Forestry operations
  • Track exposed to sun, wind or cold
  • Few water sources
  • Fire danger in forests

Koitiata Village


  • Koitiata Camp Ground - End of Te One St, Koitiata - P: 0272816691 - Campsites (powered and unpowered) and coin-operated hot showers - your host is Diane. 


Getting there/away

Local transport


  • Lancewood Lodge - accommodation available on the trail at 170 High Street, Bulls - contact details and bookings via
  • 3br self-contained cottage accommodation, 63 Johnson St (just off High St on the way into Bulls) - Mary and Paul Sharland - P: 06 3221789 - E:
  • Homestay accommodation, 48 Brandon Hall Rd - P: Jo and Mike Gallen 027 322 1040 - E: Small Comfy hut that sleeps 3, hot shower, toilet, heaps of room for tents. BBQ, dinner and cold beer provided (as long as the group isn't too big) Donation for payment appreciated. Bookings not essential, but nice to get a text/call to advise how many coming - only 500 m off the trail. 
  • Bridge Motor Lodge and Caravan Park - Also has cabins and self-contained motel units - 2 Bridge St, Bulls - P: 06 322 0894 - E: 


  • Rangitīkei Junction has a foodcourt, toilets and Four Square minimarket. 
  • Platts Pharmacy is open 8.30-5.30 weekdays and 9-12 Saturday.
  • Evening meals available at the Rangitīkei Tavern.
  • Four Square Supermarket - 144 Bridge St - P: 06 322 1236 
  • The Dairy Bulls - 113 High St, Bulls - P: 06 322 1218 

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Bulls to Feilding

Haere mai ki te Manawatū

This section of the trail, from Bulls to Levin, is 110.5km long and will take you 4-5 days to complete. For through-hikers, you will pass the halfway mark and spend some time in the halfway city Palmerston North (Papaioea), for resupply. Other settlements where you will have opportunities to mix with the locals include, Feilding, Bunnythorpe and finally Levin, a 10km side trip off the trail if you need to resupply for the remote Tararua Ranges.

The Manawatū section of the trail is well marked throughout. Whilst it starts for southbound walkers with 24km of walking on quiet country roads, as your journey proceeds you will increasingly be experiencing long stretches of bushwalking in the lower Tararua Ranges, finishing with two days (40km) of backcountry tramping trails.


Bulls to Mt Biggs School – 12.5km / 3 – 3.5 hour

  • Leaving Bulls, heading south, follow the footpath beside State Highway 1 on the west side of the highway, crossing the bridge over the Rangitikei River.
  • At the junction of Tangimoana Road, carefully cross State Highway 1 to Wightmans Road.
  • From here the route is well marked on posts with Te Araroa logos and chevrons.
  • Looking south on Wightmans Road gives a good view of the Tararua Range where you are heading after Palmerston North. Wind turbines can be seen north and south of the Manawatū Gorge. On your left are views of the Rangitikei River.
  • Passing Ohakea Defence Base outbuildings, continue along Wightmans Rd until you reach the intersection with Hurst Rd.
  • Turn right into Hurst Rd then left onto Wilsons Rd after 1.5km.
  • Follow Wilsons Rd for about 2km then turn right into Ngaio Rd near the Ohakea Radar Station.
  • After 2km you will arrive at Mt Lees Reserve on your right where overnight camping is available. Toilets, water and kitchenette, outdoor seating.
  • The 2.5km bushwalk around the reserve is a good side trip with some impressive specimen trees.
  • Continue east on Ngaio Rd for approximately 2km.
  • Turn right onto Mt Stewart Halcombe Rd.
  • After 1km, turn left into Sandon Rd at Mt Biggs School.

Mt Biggs School to Feilding - 8.5km / 2-3 hours

  • Continue east along Sandon Rd for 5.5km to Ranfurly Rd.
    • An alternative (and slightly longer) route to the main trail is from the Lees Rd/Sandon Rd intersection. Follow Lees Rd to the Awahuri Rd intersection, turn right then after 1km turn left into Kawakawa Rd. Enter Kitchener Park on your left, follow the boardwalk and walkway beside the Makino Stream and alongside Manfeild Racetrack, crossing Rimu St to the Kowhai Park exit to meet the trail on South St. This alternative is not marked with Te Araroa signage.
  • Turn right off Sandon Rd into Ranfurly Rd, Feilding.
  • After 2km turn right into West St then second left into South St.
  • At the roundabout on South St, a left turn into Kimbolton Rd takes you to Feilding town centre.
    • From further along South St a left turn into Manchester St takes you to the Feilding Sale Yards - renowned as the largest sale yards for selling sheep in the southern hemisphere; they are worthy of a visit on a Friday (being “sale day”, when the country comes to town).
    • On the right side of South St is the Coach House Museum with lots of interesting machinery and objects from bygone days. Worth a visit as it has toilet facilities and a place to sit down. Open from 10am till 4pm.


General Information

For information on Feilding Feilding Visitor Information Centre

Getting there/away

Buses leave from Feilding Railway Station, Aorangi St.


  • Mt Lees Reserve - 199 Ngaio Road, RD 9, Feilding - The trail passes Mt Lees Reserve. Basic sheltered campsite with drinking water and toilets. (On the trail, 11km north of Feilding)

    Local accommodation businesses


  • New World Supermarket - 42 Aorangi Street St, Feilding
  • Countdown Supermarket - 147 Kimbolton Road, Feilding
  • Bin Inn Feilding 85 Kimbolton Rd, Feilding

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Feilding to Palmerston North


Feilding to Bunnythorpe - 9km / 2-2.5 hours

  • Continue along South St for 1.5km to Aorangi St /Waughs Rd (at the end of South St).
  • Cross the road ahead and turn right onto Waughs Rd.
  • Follow the shared footpath/cycleway for 1km. Cross the Oroua River bridge.
  • Turn left at the next intersection. Cross the railway line then turn right (south) onto the Campbell Road footpath/cycleway.
  • Follow Campbell Rd path for 4.5km with the railway line to your right. You will pass Taonui Aerodrome on your left.
  • Where the main road crosses the railway line, hikers must also cross over and turn left onto the quieter Waughs Rd.
  • Follow Waughs Rd south for 1km to its end, with the railway line to your left.
  • Climb two stiles and continue along a track outside the fence line. Go through the small gate and keep to the right down to the Mangaone Stream crossing. Take care crossing in wet weather.
  • Continue left up the other side. After about 150 metres cross the small Jacks Creek and continue along the track until you reach Kairanga/Bunnythorpe Road.
  • Do not go straight ahead, (it is a very busy highway between Bunnythorpe and Palmerston North), but turn left, cross the railway line and then turn right into the village of Bunnythorpe which has toilets and a dairy.

Bunnythorpe to Napier Rd, Palmerston North – 7.5km / 1.5 - 2 hours

The footpath through Bunnythorpe passes the old Glaxo factory. GlaxoSmithKline, one of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world, had its genesis here in Bunnythorpe in 1904.

  • South of the village, turn right into Stoney Creek Road.
  • After 150m, cross the stile on your right and follow the marked trail south, across paddocks, to the Clevely Line/Sangsters Rd intersection.
  • Head south along Sangsters Rd, with the railway line to your right. At the end of the road, climb over the stile and follow the marked trail across farmland and along farm driveways until reaching the Roberts Line/Railway Rd intersection.
  • Cross the railway line at Roberts Line, turn left onto Railway Rd and follow the shared path towards Palmerston North.
  • Keep left at the roundabout, cross the bridge over the railway line and continue straight ahead through the traffic lights onto Vogel St.
    • There is a toilet available for public use in the branch library, 25m down Kipling St, at the start of the small Roslyn shopping centre.
  • Continue along Vogel Street, on the left, for 1.5km.
  • Take the sealed path down into the old cemetery. When inside the cemetery, turn left and follow one of the paths to the main gate. Exit onto Napier Rd.
  • Cross Napier Road.
    • For a short route into Te Marae o Hine (The Square) in the city centre, turn right. You can take a 111 or 112 bus to and from the city centre.
    • To continue on the trail, turn left (east)

Napier Road to Fitzherbert Ave Bridge – 7.5km / 1.5 hours

  • After crossing the road from the cemetery exit, turn left (east) on Napier Rd and follow the footpath 500m to the start of the shared walkway beside the Gas Works Drain.
  • Follow the shared path for 1.5km, from the Napier Road entrance down to the Manawatū River where it connects with the main Manawatū River shared path along the edge of the city.
  • Turn right and follow the river path downstream for 5.5km until you reach the Fitzherbert Ave road bridge which crosses the Manawatū River.
  • At the Fitzherbert Ave bridge, you can leave the trail and take a 2km diversion north into the city centre.

Palmerston North

General information

Getting there/away

  • Air New Zealand - Palmerston North Airport - Airport Drive, Milson P: 0800 737 000 
  • InterCity Buses arrive/leave from The Square


Trains Depart from Train Station - Off Tremaine Avenue, Palmerston North

Local transport

Palmerston North Bus services – Arrive/depart from Main St, near The Square, Palmerston North


  • Te Araroa homestay and camping, just 50m off the trail near the Fitzherbert Bridge over the Manawatū River. Beds available or camping if preferred. Hot shower, use of kitchen, laundry, bikes available. Payment by koha. Hosted by Brian and Paula, Te Araroa Manawatū Trustee P: 027 6900 260 or 027 222 3742 E:
  • Whiowhio Hut - Palmerston North (close to the Manawatū River Shared Path). Please phone or text before arrival. P: 027 470 9829 - E: Urban tramping hut. Kitchen, shower, laundry, bikes and even electricity. Payment by koha (donation). Hosted by Te Araroa walkers, Te Araroa Manawatū Trustees, and Whio (native blue duck) enthusiasts Anthony and Fiona (a.k.a. Whin and Whiona).
  • The Railway Hotel Backpackers - 275 Main Street, Palmerston North,
  • Local accommodation businesses (select Palmerston North location)


  • Pak N' Save - 327 Ferguson St, Palmerston North
  • Countdown - Cnr Ferguson and Ashley St, in the Plaza
  • New World Melody’s Supermarket - 299 Broadway Ave
  • Be Free Grocer - Square Edge, 47 The Square
  • Steve’s Wholefoods – 101 Albert St
  • Bin Inn – 688 Main St
  • 4 Four Square - 354 Albert St, Hokowhitu
  • New World Aokautere, 198 Ruapehu Drive

Resupply options for the Tararua Ranges are in the next section of the trail notes.

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Palmerston North to Poads Road, Levin

The section of the trail ahead should take 3 days.

  • Day 1 to Moturimu Whare campsite – 31 km / 6.5 - 7.5 hours. Mostly on well-formed trails.
  • Day 2 to Tokomaru Shelter campsite – 14.5 km / 6 - 7 hours. All bushwalking with river crossings.
  • Day 3 to Makahika Outdoor Centre – 18 km / 8 - 9 hours. All bushwalking with multiple stream crossings.

Warning: Crossing Tokomaru River on Day 2 should not be attempted at high water flows. Be prepared to wait for rivers and streams to subside after heavy rain.

The trail south of this section involves 3-6 days of hard tramping in the Tararua Ranges including dense forest and alpine terrain. There are many steep ascents and descents. It begins at 150m above sea level and reaches its highest point at Mount Crawford 1462m.

Resupply options for the Tararua section of the trail

  1. Resupply in Palmerston North for 7-9 days, or
  2. Resupply in Palmerston North for 3 days and
  • detour to Levin to resupply for 4-6 days, or
  • send a bounce box from Palmerston North to Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre, 865 Gladstone Rd, RD 1, Levin 5571

Warning: Weather in the Tararua Ranges is notorious for deteriorating rapidly. Be prepared for extreme conditions at all times. There can be gale-force winds and heavy rain and snow can fall in any season. Be prepared to wait out storms or for streams to subside after heavy rain. Do not cross swollen streams. Be sure to fill in intentions book at the start of the track.


Fitzherbert Ave Bridge to Old West Road – 6km / 1 - 1.5 hours

  • Follow the path downstream from the Fitzherbert Ave bridge for about 1km until you reach He Ara Kotahi pedestrian bridge which crosses the Manawatū River. 
  • Cross He Ara Kotahi Bridge, turn right and follow the sealed pathway for about 100 metres. 
  • Turn left and follow the pathway which connects to Dairy Farm Road. Follow the shared path beside the road through the Fitzherbert Science Centres which ends at Tennant Drive.
  • The path continues under the Tennant Drive bridge, beside Turitea stream, then enters Bledisloe Park bush at the carpark adjacent to the stream.
    • The Massey University Manawatū Campus lies to the south of the stream.
  • The trail then follows the well-formed pathway through the bush before climbing up the stepped terrace with views over the picturesque Massey University Campus.
  • Continue following the marked trail through open city parks, small bush reserves, fenced walkways and paddocks, to Old West Rd.
  • Cross to the pathway on the other side of Old West Rd via the underpass at the Turitea Stream bridge. 

Old West Road to Black Bridge – 17.5km / 3.5 - 4.5 hours

  • From the carpark on Old West Road follow the Upper Turitea Walkway for a short distance then turn right into Turitea Road. 
  • Continue on the pathway beside Turitea Road. The trail descends an escarpment and enters a Green Corridor riparian planted area before returning to the road.
  • Carefully cross the one-lane bridge and continue along the road for another 300m.
  • Enter the gate on the left and continue along the path through the riparian reserve strip for 1km.
  • The strip is a mix of developing and new riparian plantings by Green Corridors and Palmerston North City Council, one of several that you will walk through on this section of the trail.
  •  Return to the road at the second one-lane bridge, turn left onto the bridge and walk a further 500m along Turitea Road. Turn right into Ngahere Park Road.
  • About 100m down the road cross the bridge over Turitea Stream, turn left through the gate and follow the trail for 1.5km through another Green Corridor planting.
  • Return to Turitea Rd, turn right and continue for 7km on a mix of gravel road and bush track then exiting onto Greens Road. Watch out for mountain bikes on this track. 
  • At a high point on Greens Rd, leave the road and follow the off-road trail down the hill, crossing stiles and bridges along the way. There is a picnic table, and freshwater nearby, at the lower end of this pathway.
  • Re-join Greens Rd and after 100m turn left onto Kahuterawa Road.

Warning: This is a busy country road with many vehicles travelling to and from the walking and mountain bike trails at the end of the road. Take care on this road.

  • There is a campsite, toilet and freshwater stream at Kahuterawa Reserve about 1.5 km along Kahuterawa Rd.
  • From here the road narrows and the seal ends. A further 3.5km on, the road ends at a large recreation carpark. There is a toilet and picnic tables, and camping is permitted.
  • From the carpark, it is a 200m walk to Black Bridge, where Back Track starts.

Black Bridge to Moturimu Whare campsite – 6.5km / 2 - 2.5 hours

  • Cross Black Bridge and follow Back Track for 2.5km to the top of the Arapuke Mountain Bike Park. Be prepared for mountain bike riders to appear at any time. It is a steady climb up, mainly through the native bush but with some good views. There is a toilet in the carpark at the top of Back Track.
  • The trail continues south along Scotts Rd for 2km before dropping down to the left to the locked gate into Gordon Kear Forest.
  • Climb over the stile on the left, skirt around the gate, cross the bridge over the Kahuterawa Stream and enter Gordon Kear Forest.
  • Follow the forestry road for approx. 2km to where Palmerston North City Council has established an approved campsite for TA hikers. There is a shelter (Moturimu Whare), toilet, picnic table and nearby, a freshwater stream.
  • This is the only place where camping is permitted in Gordon Kear Forest. 

Moturimu Whare campsite to Tokomaru Shelter (Burtton’s Track) - 14.5km / 6 - 7 hours

  • After leaving the campsite, take the Toko Corner Road, climbing steadily for approx. 3km where a picnic table and Department of Conservation signpost indicate the start of Burtton’s Track and entry into Tararua Forest Park.
  • Burtton’s Track is clearly marked with orange triangles and orange poles where it traverses private land.
  • The track descends through native forest to Tokomaru Valley. The trail crosses the No 1 Stream, sidles downstream a short distance, and then begins to follow up the Tokomaru River. After descending to the river and crossing No 2 Stream, the track continues to follow the Tokomaru River upstream. Shortly after this the track crosses the Tokomaru River, at a point clearly marked with large orange triangles.
  • The track continues on the true left of the Tokomaru River for 15-20 minutes. 
  • The trail here is on private land. Firearms are not permitted, and dogs must remain on a leash. Remain strictly on the poled route.
  • The trail re-crosses the Tokomaru River and re-enters Tararua Forest Park. Five minutes further on the former Burtton’s Whare site is reached.
    • From here the track is the historical trail built by Jim Burtton and completed in 1915. Mostly benched and of good width through regrowth bush, it follows up the Tokomaru River passing some attractive open clearings. Remains of old bridges and other structures may be seen along the way. 
  • After another 6 km you will have left Tararua Forest Park and will reach the Tokomaru Shelter on the old Tokomaru Valley Rd. Camping is permitted at this site where there is a toilet, picnic table and a freshwater stream nearby.
    • The Tokomaru Shelter was refurbished for Te Araroa hikers by the Te Araroa Manawatū Trust. Koha for ongoing maintenance and development of the shelter would be appreciated. You can donate to the trust online

Mangahao-Makahika Track: Tokomaru Shelter to Poads Rd – 21.5km / 1 day

  • Continue south along Tokomaru Valley Rd for 2km until reaching an intersection. Turn left (south) onto Mangahao Rd
  • Stay on the road for a further 2km, passing the Mangahao No 3 Reservoir on your left, before reaching the signposted start of the Mangahao-Makahika Track on the right.
  • The track re-enters the Tararua Forest Park and climbs 15m to a low spur where there is a track information sign, with distances and a map.
  • The track continues in a southerly direction for 2.5km (passing some fine examples of large rimu trees that escaped the bushman’s axe), before descending and crossing three tributaries of Blackwood Stream (named after the magnificent Black Beech in the vicinity). 

Note: This is the last drinking water until reaching the Makahika Stream, several hours walk ahead.

  • The track continues south and west with an easy and a gradual gain in elevation before eventually reaching a maximum of 671m above sea level on the Makahika Ridge.
  •  There are two clear lookout points along the high ridge. The Horowhenua Lookout is a small cleared area on the right of the trail, with seating. It is reached after three to four hours walking from the road end and gives a grand vista of Shannon, Horowhenua and Manawatū. Another hour further along, as the trail begins to descend, is Archey’s Lookout, signposted to the left of the trail, with great views of Kāpiti Island, the South Island, the Makahika Valley and Gladstone Road.
  • The track soon drops off with a steady descent of 350m before reaching the terminus of the Makahika tramline formation, built in the early 20th century to extract logs from the forest.
  • From here, the trail follows an easy gradient along the former tramline route with benched track and cuttings clearly visible in many places. The trail crosses the Makahika Stream multiple times until open clearings begin to appear amidst the native bush.
  • These clearings become more frequent until reaching a clearing with a plaque commemorating the opening of this section of the track unveiled by the then Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Helen Clark on 23 February 2008. There is a toilet and picnic table at this location and a sidetrack down to a stream for fresh water. Camping is allowed here.
  • Alternatively, continue for another 4-5km to reach the Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre where camping and track advice is available.
  • Shortly after the campsite, the Tararua Forest Park boundary is reached where there is another track information sign.
  • For the last half hour, the track follows a poled route along an unfenced right-of-way through private land and crosses the Makahika Stream, before reaching the stile at Gladstone Rd.
  • Walk along Gladstone Rd for 2km to reach the Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre, then another 4.0km, taking the temporary bypass road, to reach Poads Road on the left. 
    • 2021 -  2022 season. Roadworks have begun in preparation for constructing a permanent bypass for the large slip that blocked Gladstone Road at km 1553. A temporary bypass road has been provided, including a gravel road, two bridges and a small ford.  In severe flood conditions the ford and bypass road could become unusable. In this case NOBOs would be unable to cross the first stream so just wait it out. If SOBOs can cross the last stream on the farmland the road will be fine. Take care when the road works are underway and follow the instructions of the traffic controllers.
  • Cross the Poads Road bridge and after 1.5km you will reach the carpark at the entrance to Tararua Forest Park.
  • The section of the trail ahead of you involves 3-6 days through the forest and alpine terrain and includes many steep ascents and descents. It begins at 150m above sea level and reaches its highest point at Mount Crawford 1462m.

Warning Weather in the Tararua Ranges is notorious for deteriorating rapidly. Be prepared for extreme conditions at all times. There can be gale-force winds and heavy rain and snow can fall in any season. Be prepared to wait out storms or for streams to subside after heavy rain. Do not cross swollen streams. Be sure to fill in intentions book at the start of the track.

Accommodation en-route

  • Moturimu Whare shelter: 29km from Palmerston North city centre. Palmerston North City Council has established an approved campsite, within the Gordon Kear commercial pine forest. This is the only place where camping is permitted in Gordon Kear Forest. A shelter (Moturimu Whare), toilet, picnic table and rubbish bin are provided. A freshwater stream is located nearby. Note: No open fires permitted - gas cooking only, on the concrete pad. Please fill in the intentions book even if you are not staying.
  • Tokomaru Shelter: 14.5 km south of Moturimu Whare, at the end of Burtton’s Track. Te Araroa Manawatū Trust has established a shelter and campsite beside the trail. There is a toilet and picnic table and a fresh-water stream nearby. Please fill in the intentions book even if you are not staying. Please take your rubbish with you.

The Tokomaru Shelter was refurbished for Te Araroa hikers by the Te Araroa Manawatū Trust. Koha for ongoing maintenance and development of the shelter would be appreciated. You can donate to support the trust online. 

A privately owned property situated approx. 2 km south of the Mangahao-Makahika Track exit onto Gladstone Rd. 

  • One night stay only - except Christmas Eve, Christmas night, and/or Boxing Day when 2-3 days is ok for rest and recreation.
  • Tent sites $15.00 pp – up to 10 sites available.
  • 2 cabins with power and king single bed in each. $30.00 single occupancy. If you wish to share a cabin, it's $20.00 each personWe don’t pre-book the cabins, whoever arrives first for the day has first option.
  • The Little Black Hut was built specifically for TA hikers providing hot shower, shampoo, composting toilet. Outdoor kitchen space and marquee with sink and bench (set up from Christmas). You use your own cookers etc.
  • You will need to do some cleaning prior to your departure, however we will dispose of your rubbish and we're happy for you to get some washing done if we are home and the garage is open for you.
  • Limited Wifi and no cell coverage but there is a landline you can use.
  • Local shuttle and taxi company - return trip to town will cost about $20 pp if there are 6-8 of you.
  • With Covid-19 protocols, and to protect our commercial business, with apologies, we will not be taking TA's to town in our private vehicles for resupply trips.
  • You can order supplies from New World supermarket through the New World App. They deliver to site most days. 
  • We will hold drop boxes for no-charge.

NOTE: Please don't send us email orders for food. WE DO NOT resupply for you, or buy your food. We do however have emergency food and have been known to throw the odd TA dinner party or two.

Please email if at all possible, sign in both the book and on the COVID app. There is a collection box for you to leave the site fee, which we will collect each evening.

We look forward to welcoming you for the season.

Sally, John and the team at Makahika OPC.   


Levin (approximately 10 km detour off-trail)

General information

Levin i-SITE Visitor Information Centre – 10 Bath St - P: 06 366 0848

Getting there/away

  • InterCity (to/from Wellington and Auckland) - P: 09 583 5780 - E:
  • Capital Connection – Weekday train service to/from Wellington and Palmerston North
    Trains depart from Train Station – Oxford St, Levin (SH 1)

Local transport

  • Metlink – Route 291 bus/train between Waikanae and Levin - P: 0800 801 700 
  • Levin Taxis - 154 Main South Road. Levin - P: 06 210 2000



  • Countdown Supermarket- Cnr Bristol and Stanley Sts, Levin
  • New World Supermarket - 21 Bath St. Levin
  • Pak ‘n Save Supermarket, 508 Queen St East, Levin

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Page last updated: Oct 24, 2021, 4:37 PM