After heavy overnight thunderstorms at the Lodge, this route was predicted to be a wet one underfoot. The initial section from the top end of Whakapapa Village (09:40 hrs) South West to the Whakapapaiti track junction (11:25hrs) contoured around the lower slopes for Mt Ruapehu. Undulating, but a good track through the big gulleys (The Chute, Slippery Gulley).
From the Whakapapaiti track junction the route swung North, down the Mangahuia Valley, with wetlands and damp forest. While boardwalk does cover some of the route, the track is a drainage channel after rain.
The major route uncertainty was the level of the Mangahuia Stream as that was the only unbridged river of any size. It was flowing fast and knee deep, but an easy crossing linked up. The far bank made a good lunchtime stop (12:20hrs).
From there the track was mainly through bush and fairly heavily rooted in places, paralleling the never visible stream.
The pace picked up as the track got drier towards the end at the Managahuia Campsite (13:45hrs), where Megan was waiting for us in the van. In all, 13km in just over 4 hours.