Day trip ideas

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    • #32644 Reply

      There are great trip reports on this website (refer Newsletters). However, the majority are overnight and multi-day trips. The intention of this forum post is to share day trip ideas. From the easy to difficult, short to long, near or far. The more variety the better, to cater for a wide group. Posts might offer options when the “What shall we do this weekend?” question is asked.

      These might be outings just to get outside. Perhaps options for overseas visitors coming our way this summer or mini adventures great for young families. They may assist in planning overnight trips for those new to venturing into the backcountry, or for those wanting test their fitness level or work out where their limits might be.

      A short account of enjoyable day trips in any part of NZ are welcome. Urban, rural or backcountry, on water or around the coastline, with bike wheels or without, below the bush line or along it, kid or pet friendly – or not. Feel free to post day trip excursions or ask questions on somewhere you might want to head out to.

    • #32650 Reply
        Battle Hill and Puketiro Loop with Transmission Gully in between (Wellington)

      Battle Hill Forest Farm Park, on Paekakariki Hill Road (6kms from Pauatahanui) can cater to many. The website link below sets out what it offers including lots of walk and cycle options for all ages and levels. It’s a working farm with a variety of animals.

      With Transmission Gully running through the farm, it’s also a destination for anyone interested in the construction of a four-lane motorway. There’s a good vantage point to check out its progress, an easy 20-minute walk from the car park.

      Puketiro Loop (through a pine forest) is one of the many walks within or accessed from Battle Hill. It’s a fairly steep uphill climb to the lookout at 464m elevation. The lookout provides 360 degree views including Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour. Plus, you’ll see the South Island on clear days. If there has been rain, expect wet feet crossing the creek at the start of the loop. The information board says the loop takes four hours to walk (or 2.5 hrs to cycle). For some it might take half that (subject to the number of stops). In terms of distance, the loop walk is around 8.5 kms from the carpark.

      There are good opportunities around the loop to teach young ones some navigation basics such as how to follow track markers (the Puketiro Loop uses yellow triangles). With the forest being quite open, it’s also easy to point out what a spur is (albeit small ones) and where the head waters of a stream might be. Taking along a Topo map to compare it to the surrounding terrain might be fun and educational. The open areas around the lookout provide an opportunity for compass practice too.

      Battle Hill Farm is kid-friendly but unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed. Some tracks are also closed to all during lambing season. Puketiro Loop however is open year-round.
      NZ Topo50 map BP32 (Paraparaumu)

    • #32989 Reply

      Dobson Loop (Southern Tararua Range)

      Historical records tell us that in 1859 Captain William Mein Smith came up over a saddle above Kaitoke to find a more direct route to the Wairarapa than the Remutaka hill. Today, many take this same path (one we know as the Puffer Saddle) to access the beautiful lower Tauherenikau Valley.

      The Dobson loop in the southern Tauherenikau Valley offers some typical Tararua terrain. It’s a good day ‘tramp’ for most ages. Although most of the loop is within the bush, there are sporadic clear patches along the way to enjoy vistas of the Kaitoke farmland and Tauherenikau Valley.

      The road end for Dobson Loop (and the Southern Crossing) is easily accessible and the road is sealed. From SH2, turn onto Marchant Road at the YMCA Camp Kaitoke turnoff. In just under 2 kms, turn right onto Kiwi Ranch Road. The carpark for Dobson Loop is on the left of the YMCA camp gate, 700m along Kiwi Ranch Road.

      The first section sidles beech forest before climbing to an old and overgrown 4WD road (that comes up from the disused Marchant Road carpark). Another kilometre further on, you’ll come to the turnoff up Marchant Ridge (and to Alpha hut). This is where the actual loop begins.

      Being a loop, it can be walked either direction. If you prefer going up the steepest section (a climb of 450m over a distance of 1.6kms midway on the loop), rather than down it, then anti-clockwise might be the way to go. From the Marchant Ridge/Alpha Hut turnoff and going anti-clockwise, it’s a further kilometre around the hillside to the top of the saddle. This is around 45 mins after leaving the carpark. On a clear and sunny day, the Kaitoke farmland below is eye-catching.

      From the saddle, the track meanders gently down into the Tauherenikau Valley. It’s an easy walk but does have the odd muddy patch. As you get closer to Smith Creek Shelter, several small unbridged side streams are crossed. Close to Fell Creek and just under two hours from the carpark, the track is diverted with a large orange triangle marker directing track users to the left, up a steep bank and away from the creek. There is no signage that there is a diversion at this southern end, so the original track which goes straight ahead may not be obvious to all. The diversion has been in place for many years and is an alternate route up and around an old small slip. It’s an unpleasant diversion and one section is dangerous where a trail of sorts leads to a 5-foot drop. The surface is loose, and it looks like track users have been climbing down it, presumably thinking it’s part of the diverted trail. The original track, across the bottom of the slip, is much easier and should be fine to use 9/10 times. At the northern exit of the diversion, there’s an old DOC sign informing southbound users of the ‘Alternate Route’ strategically installed across the original track.

      Minutes later, you will reach the track junction where the Dobson loop takes a left and heads up to Marchant Ridge. However, before heading on up for the return back to the carpark, Smith Creek Shelter and where travel up the Tauherenikau valley begins, is only a few more minutes along the track. While the shelter is a decent size it’s literally just walls, a roof, and a floor with a sleeping bench (no doors or glass in the windows). There’s a toilet less than 100m along the track on the left from shelter. The only water source here is the Smith Creek and the river.

      Smith Creek Shelter is one location for a lunch stop but there are much better places further along the track by the river. One in particular is within 10 minutes of the shelter. It’s a large grass clearing on the right between the track and the river. You can’t miss it – look out for a DOC sign announcing you’ve arrived at Joe Gibbs’ memorial cricket crease. Another five minutes further along the track is Marchant Stream. This might be a fun spot for children where you can show them how to cross a stream holding a single cable. (After heavy rain, Marchant Stream can be uncrossable even with the aid of the cable.) From Marchant Stream, it’s an easy 15-minute walk back to Smith Creek and the Dobson Loop track junction for the return to the carpark via Marchant Ridge.

      The track up from the valley to Marchant Ridge is very good. It’s a steady climb of about 450m. After 60-75 minutes, you’ll pop out on a clear knoll where you will get some views on a clear day. It’s then a short and easy descent to a small saddle before one final short rise. Once you hit the track junction on Marchant Ridge (around 90 minutes from Smith Creek), and the site of the old Dobson Hut, take a left (South West) and head down the ridge for 60-75 minutes to where it joins with the Puffer Saddle track. At this point you’ve completed the loop. Here you’ll take a right and in another 30 minutes be back at the car park.

      This is a good day’s walk for family groups with easy access to creeks and the river for some fun. It’s equally attractive for those new to tramping and keen to get a taste of the Tararua terrain. Sections of Dobson Loop are muddy, so tramping boots are best if you have them. Allow five hours for this loop. Longer if you take an extended break – a relaxing picnic by the river, a dip in a swimming hole, or to play some cricket on Joe Gibbs’ cricket crease.

      Dobson Loop has three big siblings – Block XVI, Omega and Bull Mound. Block XVI Track loop is a full day walk (10-12 hours) for those with good fitness. To note, the track along the true right of the Tauherenikau River between the bridge to Tutuwai Hut and Block XVI track is unmaintained. Navigation and route-finding experience may be required along this section. Omega and Bull Mound might be best suited for overnight trips (unless you’re a fit and experienced trail runner). There are campsite options as well as Cone and Tutuwai huts along the Tauherenikau Track on the true left of the river.

      Dobson Loop Track walk is approximately 14.5kms. Approximate times for sections of the loop are:
      ~ Carpark to Puffer Saddle – 45 minutes
      ~ Puffer Saddle to Smith Creek Shelter – 1 hour (may be longer if you take the alternate/diverted track near Fell Creek)
      ~ Smith Creek Shelter up to Dobson Hut site/Marchant Ridge track junction 1½ hours
      ~ Dobson Hut site/Marchant Ridge track junction to carpark – 1½ hours to 2 hours

      Trail runners can halve the above times.
      NZ Topo50 map BP33 – Featherston covers Dobson Loop Track and the Tauherenikau Valley

    • #33057 Reply

      This post and the next one are being re-posted due to a technical (user) error.

      Te Ara Utiwai track (Porirua Scenic Reserve, Wellington)

      There’s a new track in town. Actually, it’s 18 months old but you might not have heard of it.

      If there is a dual-purpose track in Wellington that suits just about everyone, the Te Ara Utiwai track (6.1kms) might be it. It’s worth checking out and can be enjoyable even in inclement weather.

      It’s suitable for small children finding their tramping legs. It’s great for a jog as well as a worthy trail run. It’s suitable for a gentle stroll or a robust walk.

      It’s the easiest way to get more than half-way up to Rangituhi-Colonial Knob summit (468m) yet you might hardly notice you’re climbing the 350m in elevation. There are no steps. From start to end, the track is through mature tawa and kohekohe forest of the Porirua Scenic Reserve, up to a fantastic lookout. Rangituhi-Colonial Knob summit is further up the farm road, a summit that competes with having the best views of the Wellington region.

      When the track opened, Mana Cycle Group got a shout out in the media for their vision of this track. So a big thanks to them because it’s an awesome track designed for biking, walking and running as well as all levels of fitness.

      The track has two sections. The first 1.4km section of the track allows two-way cycling. (I’m no mountain biker but this first section looks like it might be great for children starting out biking on a trail.) The second section of 4.7kms is for uphill biking only. Walkers and runners can use both sections of the track in either direction.

      There are several options to return from the lookout. If you’re on a bike, then take one of the bike tracks. The farm road for bikers and walkers, or for walkers down the main track that runs through the middle of the reserve to Rangituhi-Colonial Knob for a loop trip. (There are quite a few steps on this main track.) Walkers and runners can also return the same way they came up by going back down the scenic Te Ara Utiwai track.

      This new Te Ara Utiwai track begins at the Camp Elsdon carpark on Raiha Street. Cross the little bridge and turn right. The track is well sign posted.

      Dogs are not allowed in the Porirua Scenic Reserve.

      Estimated times on the Te Ara Utiwai track to the lookout:
      ~ a stroll (e.g. young child’s pace) – two+ hours
      ~ a walk (with the heart rate up) – 90 minutes
      ~ Jog – 60 to 90 minutes
      ~ Run (no stopping) – 25 to 45 mins
      ~ Biking – 20 to 40 mins?? (I’m guessing)

    • #33059 Reply

      This post is being re-posted due to a technical (user) error.

      Kāpiti Coastal Cycle Route – Shared pathway (Greater Wellington/Kāpiti Coast)

      Each time I drive along the new Kāpiti Expressway, I tell myself I must ride the adjacent cycleway sometime. I’ve now done so.

      The Kāpiti Coastal Cycle Route is stated online to be from Paekakariki to Peka Peka. But as with many trips, you can start at either end. The signpost at Peka Peka indicates the route continues even further – onto Otaki.

      Dusting off my 25-year-old bike, I took to the cycleway. I started from Paekakariki – Beach Road. You can get to Paekakariki by train (Paekakariki Station is on Wellington’s Kāpiti rail line) or by driving. Parking is available on any of the streets.

      The Kāpiti Coastal Cycleway is promoted as a ‘shared pathway’. I came across cyclists of all ages, dog walkers, a wheelchair user (the sporty type of wheelchair), runners, parents pushing buggies and of course walkers. Horse riders are also allowed on the bridleway sections of the route.

      The pathway is 25 kms from Paekakariki to Peka Peka. A decent ride for a recreational cyclist, especially if the plan is to turn around and return to the start. But the route can be broken down to whatever suits your group, level of fitness, the weather or how much time you have
      From Beach Road, Paekakariki, the first 2kms are along residential roads. For the most part, that’s along Tilley Road leading to a sports field (and a car park) on the edge of Queen Elizabeth II park. Tilley Road Reserve car park is perhaps the better starting point for those who want to avoid riding on roads.

      From the Tilley Road car park, it’s a nice ride through QEII park on the sealed Te Ara o Whareroa trail. You’ll pass a mix of sand dunes and paddocks. There are several side-tracks for exploring – a possible distraction for any younger members of the group if their legs are getting tired from biking. The Te Ara o Whareroa trail is generally flat with a few gentle ups and downs. There’s nothing steep.

      The start of the ‘Kāpiti Expressway Shared Pathway’ or ‘Kāpiti Coastal Cycle Route’ starts at the SH1 end of Poplar Avenue, Raumati South. It’s easily accessible and there’s plenty of parking here. If driving from Wellington, it’s right at the end of the Raumati South SH1 off ramp.

      This shared pathway is sealed, a good width and is very easy to ride for all levels. There’s good signage that provides information about the area each section runs through. There are seats and grassy places to takes breaks.

      From Poplar Avenue to Peka Peka, the pathway is just under 16 kms. If the full length is too far there are several junction points you can aim for then turn around and head home (or head inland for food or drink). There are about six roads to cross along this 16 km stretch. All but one have either traffic lights with the green man/green cycle or a button to alert road users there are cyclists up ahead. The only road section (other than Tilley Road) is less than 500m on two very quiet no exit residential streets just after Waikanae river.

      The scenery along the route is quite varied. The several wetlands are a standout. There’s a lot of restoration planting alongside the path and a good presence of birds. The path ties in with local roads and other tracks and walkways for exploring, including trails along the banks of the Waikanae River. The route also links up (by road) with the Paraparaumu and Waikanae railway stations if you started from Paekakariki but don’t wish to cycle back.

      More details on Kāpiti’s cycleways, walkways and bridleways (and a whole lot of other activities in this area) can be found here:
      Explore Kapiti Attractions and Activities

      Distances between sections of the very well signposted Kāpiti Coastal Cycleway are below:
      ~ Beach Road, Paekakariki to Tilly Road Reserve 2 kms
      ~ QEII park’s Te Ara o Whareroa shared walkway to SH1 end of Poplar Ave 7 kms
      ~ Poplar Ave car park to Kāpiti Road, Paraparaumu 4 kms
      ~ Kāpiti Road to Waikanae River 4.5 kms
      ~ Waikanae River to Peka Peka Road roundabout 7.5 kms

      Total distance from Paekakariki to Peka Peka is 25 kms

    • #33076 Reply

      Northern Skyline (Wellington) – Trail runs for beginners

      The following are three distance options from the same starting point for the beginner trail runner. The longer one covers the first 9 kms of the WUU2K route. (The WUU2K is a marathon trail race around the Wellington skyline.)

      The options below are of course just as suitable to walk as they are to run. The skyline is a drawcard for many mountain bikers too. Times at the end of this post are approximate walking times for each option. Reduce them if running. The options are all loops, but you can just as easily do an out and back run (or walk) along the skyline.

      Start point: Woodmancote Road carpark, Khandallah Park. Accessible by public transport -Johnsonville Line train to Box Hill or Khandallah railway station, or a bus.

      If you choose not to do the loop, you won’t be far from public transport to get you back into the CBD. You do however need to drop off the skyline into the nearest suburb for the train or bus.

      • Long option – Johnston Hill, Karori – 17 kms if you do the full loop (14 kms on trails and 3 kms on road).
      • Medium option – Wilton Substation, Chartwell – 12 kms for the full loop (9 kms on trails and 3 kms on road).
      • Short option – Bells Track, Ngaio – 8 kms for the full loop (6 kms on trails and 2 kms on road)

      1. Johnston Hill, Karori (17 km loop) – From Khandallah Park carpark at the end of Woodmancote Road, follow the driveway alongside the Khandallah Summer Swimming Pool. Go over the little bridge and follow the asphalt path until it ends. Head up the track from the end of the path to Mt Kau Kau lookout. Its well-signposted and a good well-formed benched track. Once you get out of the bush and approaching the summit, look to your left. If it’s a clear day, you’ll get a great view of the Kaikoura Ranges. They will standout if they are snow-capped. Once at the Kau Kau lookout, you’ll see a whole lot more of the South Island as well as Wellington’s wind turbines spread out high above our SW coastline.

      From the lookout head left (West) along the skyline keeping to the track with the WUU2K markers. You’ll be running along undulating farmland all the way until the signposted Johnston Hill at 9kms from where you started (just under 2 hrs if walking). From Johnston Hill summit (you’ll be leaving the WUU2K route on the 4WD track just below it), you can either:

      a. go down the steps and head directly into Karori (Hatton street initially). A public bus can take you in the CBD; or

      b. if you want to do the full loop, start down the steps as if heading into Karori, but take the signposted Otari-Wilton’s bush/Karori Cemetery sign on your left, less than 250m from the summit. Head down this track through a pine forest. After about 800m (you should find yourself close to the edge of Karori cemetery), take another left turn at a track junction and keep on the track to Otari-Wilton’s bush. You will now be heading in a NE direction. This will lead you onto Otari-Wilton’s blue trail. Follow this trail for the next 1.7 kms (30 mins if walking) and you should find yourself at the Troup Picnic Area of Otari-Wilton’s bush. There are decent toilets here. From the picnic green, head in the same direction you have been travelling. This is over a bridge and now along the purple trail (10-15 mins if walking) to the North entrance of the reserve, another picnic area, car park and Wilton Bush Road.

      At the sealed Wilton Bush Road/Churchill Drive intersection, turn left and head North along the main road through the suburbs of Crofton Downs, Ngaio and into Khandallah. Just after the Crofton Downs rail bridge, you’ll be following the blue coloured Northern Walkway markers. The Northern Walkway comes up out of Trelisick Park down in the valley on your right.

      Keep following the Northern Walkway markers. They will direct you to take a left up Simla Crescent in Khandallah. Once on Simla Crescent and in less than 250m, the Northern Walkway heads into the Khandallah Park bush reserve. You are now back on trails. Continue to follow the blue Northern Walkway markers. There’s a short climb of around 600m (in distance). Soon after the open grassy clearing, take the trail on the right signposted to Woodmancote Road. Head down this track and within minutes, less than 400m (in distance), you’ll join the dots of your 17 km loop run (or 12 km/8 km for the medium/short loops respectively). After the bridge, turn right onto the picnic areas of Khandallah Park. Another 200m along the path, adjacent to the playground on your right and the swimming pool on your left is the Woodmancote carpark where you started from.

      There are several escape routes off the Northern Skyline. One of them is to drop down into Chartwell for the medium sized loop.

      1. Wilton Sub-station, Chartwell (12 km loop)

      Start out as if you’re doing the Johnston Hill loop, however around the 5 km point (60-80 mins if walking), take the 4WD service road down into Chartwell (its sign posted). Around 1.7 kms down this well-maintained unsealed road (20 mins if walking), you’ll arrive at a carpark outside an entrance to the Wilton Substation. This is at the top of Chartwell Drive. Continue down Chartwell Drive until you get to Churchill Drive. Turn left and continue onto Ngaio and into Khandallah. Follow the directions to return to Khandallah Park bush reserve as for the Johnston Hill loop above.

      The shorter loop is to come off the skyline down Bell’s Track.

      1. Bell’s Track, Ngaio (8 km loop)
        Start out as if you’re doing the above medium or long loop, however at around 3.4 kms from the start (40-50 mins if walking), take the Bell’s Track (its signposted). Head down to Awarua Street in Ngaio. From here back to Khandallah Park bush reserve you’ll have just 2 kms of road travel (the longer loops both have c. 3kms). Continue down Awarua Street until you get to the second roundabout on the main road through Ngaio. Turn left onto Khandallah Road and follow the direction to return to Khandallah Park bush reserve as for the long and medium loops above.

      The tracks and trails for the above loops are all very good. There might be two slippery sections after heavy rain but they’re short. One is on the blue trail in Otari-Wilton’s bush reserve and the other is on the Woodmancote Rd track 500m from the carpark at the end of each of the loops. All the tracks above are well-signposted.

      The skyline is exposed. While it can be walked any time of the year, layers are best carried on most days.

      Otari-Wilton’s bush has quite a few trails, so it is possible to take a wrong turn (especially when running). If you’re not sure you are where you should be, just keep on a track that heads down into the valley. It will take you to the Troup picnic area or the Northern entrance. Buses come through Wilton and Wadestown if you wish to head back into the CBD. Otari-Wilton’s bush is a popular native reserve and botanic attraction in Wellington, so you are likely to come across others to point you in the right direction.

      Walking times:
      • Johnston Hill, Karori – 17 km loop. 3-4 hours
      • Wilton Substation, Chartwell – 12 km loop. 2.5 to 3 hours
      • Bells Track, Ngaio – 8 km loop. 1.5 to 2 hours.

      The Northern Skyline is dog-friendly, but dogs need to be on a lead. I use a short lead in the bush reserve and a good quality retractable lead on the Skyline. Dogs may not be allowed on the farmland beyond Mt Kau Kau during lambing. Give cows with calves a wide berth (there are no narrow sections so that’s easy to do.)

    • #33079 Reply

      Wairaka Coastal Walkway (Pukerua Bay beach to Plimmerton, Wellington)

      Even though it’s flat, walking the Wairaka coastal walkway should give your legs a good workout and may even strengthen the ankles (shingle beaches and uneven ground can do that). It is walkable for those with reasonable fitness and may provide solitude as a bonus. There are facilities (food and public toilets) not far from either end. It is easily accessible by public transport (Kapiti rail line) to the start and finish.

      The start and end sections of the walkway will be particularly attractive to those inquisitive to what’s living in the many rock pools at low tide. In fact, the rock pools are a playground and may be difficult to pull some away from.

      The route skirts around the coast with steep terrain on one side and rugged coast and sea on the other. The ground varies from short sections of dirt trail on narrow terraces beneath the steep hillside, to shingle beach (which can be a bit of a slog) and boulders, as well as 4WD tracks. In spring the hillside comes alive with colourful wildflowers. It’s an exposed coastline with shelter limited to one large rock arch. Native bushes have adapted well to the coastal wind and are now crouched over low to the ground, offering some fun hiding places for kids or a spot to provide some shade over refreshments while spending time on the beach. There are rock climbing faces at the Pukerua Bay end.

      It’s one of those walks most will opt to do on a fine day. But there’s something about the coast as it can be quite captivating in rough weather. More of a consideration around when to walk this route, might be the tide.

      While it can be walked at high tide, walking at low tide will provide more options as to where along the beach you walk. Low tide offers more boulder-hopping, more driftwood to balance-beam walk along, more options on navigating the short scramble over the rocks just past Wairaka Point. Low tide will also allow you to keep some distance from the loose bank as you pass a couple of large slips. The more exposed beach the more places you’ll also have to choose from to throw out the picnic blanket to make a day of it or cool off in the water on a hot day. For rock pool explorers, low tide will be needed.

      The walkway starts at Pukerua Bay beach and ends at the start of Moana Road, Plimmerton. Or vice versa. This coastal stretch is 9 kms. The walk is at its best over the first 5 kms from Pukerua Bay beach to Haukōpua Point. After that the shoreline scenery becomes the remnants of two old quarry sites and a 4WD track. On the stretch after Te Rewarewa Point there is however a long stretch of toetoe on the hillside that waves you on like a crowd to the finish line just ahead.

      The coastal walkway ends at Hongoeka Marae on Hongoeka Road where it joins Moana Road in Plimmerton. Coastal walkers have access through the marae along the shoreline path of the property.

      Either direction around the coast can of course be walked. Into the wind may be appealing for those after some resistance training, otherwise a tailwind should be easier (noting in Wellington, you will often experience the wind from both directions).

      Here are some distances and walking times as a guide.
      • Pukerua Bay railway station to the start of the coastal walkway on Ocean Parade (via Pukerua Beach Road and the zig zag short cut on the sharp corner down to the beach) – 1 km (20 mins walk)
      • Wairaka coastal walkway from Pukerua Bay beach to the start of Moana Road, Plimmerton – 9 kms (2 to 3 hours or more depending upon number and length of breaks)
      • Moana Road to Plimmerton railway station – 2 kms (30-45 mins walk)

      Total distance from Pukerua Bay railway station to Plimmerton Railway Station is 12 kms (3-5 hours depending upon pace and number of stops).

      If you’re after extra steps and choose to walk a full loop with the start and finish at Plimmerton railway station, add on 6 kms along the Ara Harakeke Walkway. This will make the loop trip 18 kms. While the fully sealed Ara Harakeke walkway has the attraction of Taupō Swamp, some may find it too close to SH1 and not like the noise from the traffic the road beside the path brings.

      Food and drink can be purchased at the Pukerua Bay or Plimmerton shops, both within minutes’ walk from the respective railway stations. There are toilets at the start of the Wairaka walkway at the Pukerua Bay end and at the northern end of Karehana Beach in Plimmerton.

    • #33140 Reply

      Mid Waiohine Hut (Eastern Tararua Range)

      This trip requires good tramping fitness. A day walk to Mid Waiohine hut. If you are unsure as to your fitness base, allow a full day and include your headlamp in case you get caught short on daylight at the end of the day.

      If you can get to Powell Hut from Holdsworth carpark with a day pack in two hours, then Mid Waiohine Hut should be just another three hours away.

      From Holdsworth trig (45 minutes North of Powell Hut), it’s a comfortable but undulating 30 minute walk West ‘along’ to Isabelle. At varying elevations between 1470m (Holdsworth) and 1385m (Isabelle), the approach to Isabelle is however exposed. But in good weather, it’s a nice section with excellent views of the main range and the Waiohine valley. After Isabelle, it’s 10-15 minutes to the bushline. The track down through the bush to Mid Waiohine Hut is very good, but steep. It’s well-marked with the usual orange triangle markers.

      With a start from Holdsworth carpark around 7-8am, Mid Waiohine is a nice spot for lunch. Stepping into Mid Waiohine Hut is like stepping back in time. Or at least it is after having just stopped off at the modern 28 bunk Powell Hut to leave your intentions in the hut book and fill the water bottle. Mid Waiohine’s a great little six bunk hut on a grassy terrace beside the Waiohine River. The ex-NZFS group do an excellent job maintaining this hut.

      As a day walk, the return trip is the same way back (the loop option is multi-day). So, from Mid Waiohine Hut, it’s a big up (climbing 1100m) to Holdsworth trig and then a big down (descending 1200m) back to the carpark. The trip might be a great booster shot to the fitness base if planning a big multi-day trip soon.

      The water sources at the huts are tanks at Powell and a side stream (or the river) at Mid Waiohine. On a hot day, you will want sufficient water to get you back up and over Isabelle and Holdsworth to Powell hut for the return.

      Estimated times (with a day pack and subject to pace and number/length of breaks):
      • Holdsworth carpark to Powell Hut – 2 hours
      • Powell Hut to Mid Waiohine Hut – 3 hours
      • Time at Mid Waiohine Hut (lunch, a dip in the river, some photography perhaps) – 1 to 2 hours
      • Mid Waiohine Hut to Powell Hut – 3 to 3.5 hours
      • Powell Hut to Holdsworth carpark – 1.5 to 2 hours
      Total 11-13 hours.

      NZ Topo50 maps BP34 Masterton and BP33 Featherston cover the tracks of this walk

    • #33596 Reply

      Thanks for posting this Heather. Some great suggestions there!

    • #35062 Reply

      Northern Wellington Suburbs/Porirua Southern suburbs

      There is a large network of tracks in Wellington’s northern suburbs. Many are on the SE side of Rangituhi/Colonial Knob with access from several suburban streets between Tawa and Elsdon. The tracks go through reserve, farmland, pine forests and a botanical park. (Spoiler alert – two sections of track are near the Spicer landfill so expect a stink for a couple of hundred metres.) The following summarises three walk options. All are written as loops but can be ‘out and back’ by turning around at any point. All provide some decent hill work exercise.

      1 Te Ngahere-o-Tawa (5.5km loop) – This track starts on Kiwi Crescent (beside no. 56A). After an initial short flat section, the non-marked track takes you up a fairly steep spur. After climbing around 1.5 kms, you will reach the gravel service road that was used to transport turbines for Mill Creek Wind Farm. Continue straight ahead (north direction) along the road. The gravel road turns to a sealed surface in just over a kilometer at which point you are now at the top of Broken Hill Rd. Take the track on the right of the locked gates (the landfill’s upper entrance). Follow this track along the fence line (10-15 mins) until you reach the turn off to Chastudon Place. Head down the path back to suburbia. From here it is 2.7 kms by road back to the car on Kiwi Crescent (via Victory Cres, Franklyn Rd, Chester Rd and Kiwi Cres).

      2 Rangituhi/Colonial Knob Summit via Seven Pines track (8 km loop) – From the Spice Botanical Park car park, follow directions to the shared-use ‘The Doctor’ track. A few metres before reservoir #2, head up the Seven Pines track. This track will take you up a steep spur through the bush to the edge of farmland (1km) before another easy but still steep section over private farmland, until you reach Colonial Knob summit (just under 1.5kms from the fence line). Stop to take in the views.

      Continue heading North and start the return to the car park down the 4WD Farm Rd. Near the bottom (c. 3.5km from the summit), take a hard right turn on to the Boundary Rd track then switch onto The Doctor track (c. 1km from the sharp right). Follow The Doctor down into the valley, passing Reservoir #2 on your left. Continue along The Doctor back to the car park. These are all particularly good, well-formed tracks albeit steep in sections.

      Alternatively, go in the opposite direction. From the Spicer car park follow directions to the shared-use The Doctor track. Continue past Reservoir #2 on your right before starting a very gradual zig zag climb. At the top of The Doctor, connect to Boundary Rd track, heading North. When you reach the 4WD Farm Rd, take a sharp left and head up for around 3.5kms until you reach the Rangituhi/Colonial Knob summit. Enjoy the great views. Continue past the summit, heading South, following blue wooden posts with orange triangles (this is part of the Te Araroa trail). Just before re-entering a pine forest (c. 200m before the stile), take the Seven Pines track and head down the steep spur back to the car park. Depending which turn off you take at the bottom, you may walk past Reservoir no.1.

      3 Rangituhi/Colonial Knob Summit via Broken Hill and Ohariu Valley Roads (13.5 kms) – For those who want a slightly longer walk, this loop can be accessed from Chastudon Pl, Ohariu Valley Rd, Rahia Rd or Spicer Botanical Park.

      Park at the top of Chastudon Place, Tawa, take the short path up to the ridgeline overlooking Spicer Botanical Park and upwards to Rangituhi/Colonial Knob summit. Head left (SW) along the track. In 10-15 mins, you will reach the back gates of Spicer Landfill and the top of Broken Hill Rd. This joins the service road used for the Mill Creek Wind Farm. Continue along the road until you reach the car park at the upper end of Ohariu Valley Rd (3 kms from Chastudon Pl).

      At the car park, take a sharp right up what looks like a private driveway but is in fact a continuation of Ohariu Valley Rd. You are now on the Te Araroa Trail. Head up the valley and continue climbing up a zig zag section in a pine forest until you reach the edge of the farmland (c. 2.5 kms from Ohariu Valley Rd carpark). Over the stile and follow the wooden blue poles with orange markers to the Rangituhi/Colonial Knob summit (1.5 kms). Enjoy the expansive 360 views.

      Head North down the 4WD Farm Rd. After around 3.5kms take a sharp right turn onto a shared-use track signposted as Boundary Rd. Switch over to The Doctor track (c. 1km from the sharp right turn). This track (named after DOC) will take you down into the valley, past Reservoir #2, and into Spicer Botanical Park picnic grounds (just under 2 kms). Cross Broken Hill Rd (c. 100m up from the car park) to pick up the Te Ara Tai Tonga track. This track will take you up the hill to the path that leads down to Chastudon Place (c. 1.6kms from Spicer Botanical Park).

      Other reserves – Tawa/Linden has a few reserves offering shorter walks. These include Redwood Bush (Braenose Pl, Peterhouse St or Archilles Cl), Woodman Reserve (Woodman Dr) and Wilf Mexted Scenic Reserve (top of Collins Ave).

      For more detail, the above tracks can be found at:

    • #35079 Reply

      Three walks when visiting Ohakune:

      Mangawhero trail loop (3.5 kms including the beautiful 600m Rimu Walk) – Suitable for all ages. This walk will take 45-60 mins. It is an easy loop from the car park at the bottom of Ohakune Mountain Road, opposite DOCs Ohakune base. Or start at the top of the loop from DOCs Mangawhero campsite if you are camping there. The track crosses Ohakune Mountain Rd at the top and bottom of the loop. Kid friendly? Yes (a great walk to put a tiny backpack on a tiny person and get them out ‘tramping’). Dog friendly – no – this walk is within the national park boundary.

      Ohakune Mountain Road/Blyth Hut loop (13 kms) – Park at MUACs lodge 14.5kms up Ohakune Mountain Rd from DOCs base. With NZ Topo50 map BJ34 (Mt Ruapehu) and compass navigate SE for just under 2.5kms until you reach the poled route between Blyth Hut and Turoa Skifield. Head down the mountain to Blyth Hut. Continue down past Lupton Hut connecting with the Round the Mountain Track. Head to Ohakune Mountain Rd via Waitonga Falls. Return to the car parked up at MUACs lodge via the road (3 kms).

      Old Blyth Track to Blyth Hut (16 kms) – From DOCs Ohakune base, the Old Blyth track carpark is 7 kms up Ohakune Mountain Road. The first 4 kms of Old Blyth track is an easy stretch with a gentle climb of 250m in elevation heading up the mountain. The track joins the Round the Mountain track at just past the 5 km mark from the carpark. Continue to Waitonga falls, a short 15 mins away. After three creek crossings close to the falls, and a short climb up out of the creek, you will reach the track junction to Blyth Hut. Head up ‘new’ Blyth Hut track, past Lupton Hut and arrive at Blyth Hut in 30 mins. Return to your car the reversed route. This walk is also a great trail run – but only when Old Blyth track is dry.

    • #33771 Reply

      A Summer Climb of Taranaki Maunga

      I have previously written an account of a summer climb of Mt Taranaki via the Northern route. The link to the report is here:

      There is not much I would change (other than the name change*) but I do suggest checking out whether or not there might now be parking restrictions in place at the weekends during the summer, or on public holidays.

      * Mt Taranaki is to be recognized solely as Taranaki Maunga from 2020:

    • #38491 Reply
    • #64432 Reply

      Mueller Hut – a day alpine walk

      If you don’t mind steps, some scree and boulder hopping, this day alpine walk must be up there with the best of day alpine walks in NZ. DOC’s Mueller Hut route guide and better still, MSC’s walk-through video, are the go-to resources.

      I was going to do this walk in November but a traveling companion got Covid so our trip down South was deferred. Until March – which is a better time to be climbing up to Mueller Hut if you don’t wish to negotiate icy patches. Here’s my feedback on the track, walked early-March 2023.

      As you ascend the Sealy Tarns track (I started from White Horse Hill campground car park), those coming down might tell you the steps are the worst part of the route. But that may depend upon how much you dislike scree (whether that’s going up scree or coming down it). The steps are in excellent condition. They’re solid, a good height and distance apart, with only a couple of dozen starting to hollow out. There are a lot of steps so if your knees aren’t up to lots of steps on a steep gradient, then this might not be the track for you. I generally have no trouble going up steep steps, but I know they need to be taken seriously when coming down later in the day. The steps down the Sealy Tarns track especially so.

      The tarns seem to be the destination for many of the track users, and this lookout offers a superb aspect over to Hooker Lake and valley (with Aoraki/Mt Cook towering above). But if it’s Meuller Hut you’re after, then after the tarns, it’s a 20-minute gentle tussocky climb up the start of the poled section. You’ll then come across 20-40 minutes of scree but it’s quite coarse, so two steps forward should be two steps forward. (Unlike, for instance, the scree on Mt Taranaki which can mean two steps forward, one step back.)

      From the Skyline ridge, it’s some fun boulder hopping, finished with an easy home straight direct to the hut.

      The weather was fine and the surface of the track/poled route was dry the day I walked this route. It made the walk more enjoyable. There was also good visibility of the white peaks around me, including Aoraki / Mt Cook. Regardless of the weather down in the car park, be prepared to be hit with a low wind chill factor somewhere on the route. For me it was when I reached the skyline ridge, just before the boulder hopping. Layers will be needed even on the finest of days.

      As with any day walk, especially in the alpine, start as early as you can to get the most out of the day.

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Tony Gazley.
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