Length: from 3.0 up to 5.0 days
Distance: 69.0 km (28.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 811m to 1690m. Gain: 5635m. Loss: 5354m . Gradient: 9 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Prolonged rivers (4/6) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)

A trip with plenty of variety and taking in some infrequently-visited parts of the Kaimanawas.



Distance: 7.1 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 811m to 1393m. Gain: 838m. Loss: 681m . Gradient: 12 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Occasional rivers (3/6)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

A well-maintained track leads from the carpark at the end of the Urchin access road up above the bushline, over Urchin and up over the ridge running along the western side of the Waipakihi Valley. The track continues along this ridge to meet up with the Umukarikari Range but take the signposted fork leading down into the valley, where the marked track ends Lots of good camping areas on the flats immediately across on the true right from the track end.

Created by: Bretts on 2021-01-30. Experienced: 2016-02-21

Distance: 12.0 km (6.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 949m to 1113m. Gain: 874m. Loss: 736m . Gradient: 8 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/6)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

A great river valley walk upstream, on tussock flats with intermittent scrub and forest for roughly the first half then largely in the river bed for the second half. Straightforward and enjoyable in normal flows, obviously not to be attempted after significant rain.

Created by: Bretts on 2021-01-30. Experienced: 2016-02-22

From Waipakihi Hut to Junction Top via old track
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Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 DOC hours) - Unmaintained track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1112m to 1563m. Gain: 454m. Loss: 8m . Gradient: 11 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

This route crosses private land, and permission is required from East Taupo Lands Block to use it. Alternative public access is via the spur south of the hut leading to pt1660. Be aware that on some topo map versions, the Waipakihi Hut end of the track is incorrectly marked. To get to it, you should go back down towards the Waipakihi R from the hut and pick up the track running down the true left of the river, past pt 1091 until you see the signed track junction. The track goes up the north-west feeder spur, not the north-east.

The cut, marked track climbs east from the hut through manuka scrub, onto the well defined spur. You soon emerge into kaimanawa tops of tussock and blazing subalpines. Continue up the spur to the summit. A junction with the main NS ridgeline, 100m beyond, is marked by a cairn. 45mins-1.5hrs to summit

Last updated by: Bretts at 2021-01-30 06:33:00. Experienced: 2016-12-13

From Junction Top to Thunderbolt Track junction with Kaimanawa main range via Kaimanawa main range and Thunderbolt
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Distance: 12.7 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 1427m to 1663m. Gain: 1017m. Loss: 942m . Gradient: 9 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

From Junction Top, follow the main ridge south over easy, weathered tops and low tussock. The route is not marked but is clear all the way. There is a sizeable high basin around the head of Thunderbolt Creek, on the western side of the ridge and camping would be possible in good conditions.

Created by: Bretts on 2021-01-30. Experienced: 2016-02-24

Distance: 9.8 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 1215m to 1690m. Gain: 646m. Loss: 1015m . Gradient: 10 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

The cairned/marked route continues along the west-east ridge between Motutere and Thunderbolt, ending up back down in the Waipakihi Valley. The tops route into the southern Kaimanawas, however, drops off to the south, initially following a high tributary of the Waipakihi and then moving onto a narrow, rocky ridge. This then broadens out onto the eastern ridge leading up to Karikaringa. From the peak, drop down the southern spur towards pt 1550. The ridge between pts 1550 and 1436 is quite challenging, with some exposed scrambling over and around rocky peaks. From pt 1436, the terrain changes markedly to the more open, rounded forms of the southern Kaimanawas. The ground cover on the northern side of the Akeake Valley is shin to knee deep herbfield and requires concentration to keep knees and ankles intact. There is probably easier access to Akeake Stream, and better camping spots, a little to the west of where I chose to drop into the stream. Note that at about 750 metres south-west of pt 1436, you enter a block of private leasehold land and must get permission from the leaseholder, Helisika, before entering.

Last updated by: Bretts at 2021-01-30 06:16:16. Experienced: 2016-02-24

From Akeake Stream to Southern Kaimanawa access point via Kaimanawa Forest Park Walkway
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Distance: 25.0 km (9.0 DOC hours) - Unmaintained track - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 1052m to 1600m. Gain: 1806m. Loss: 1972m . Gradient: 9 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

After a short scramble out of the Akeake Stream, the climb up to the ridges south of the stream is straightforward, over open, weathered ground to pt 1576, swinging to the east over pt 1591 then south from pt 1604 to drop onto the Kaimanawa Forest Park Walkway. Be careful to pick the right spur in the last few hundred metres before the walkway. Note that by this point, and for the length of the walkway to SH1, you are on a narrow strip of public right-of-way between the private Needles Block (leaseholder Helisika) to the north and the restricted army training area to the south. The walkway is not well defined or marked and the area is crisscrossed by army vehicle trails, so keep an eye on your GPS as you go to make sure you don't stray off course.

Created by: Bretts on 2021-01-30. Experienced: 2016-02-25


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