Mangahao Flats Hut – Tararua Forest Park

We set off on a beautiful fine day and parked at no 2 reservoir, located at the end of Mangahao Rd, near Shannon. Be prepared to take care on the drive there, as the road is very windy and gravelly—a 4WD isn’t necessary, but would definitely be the preferred option if available.

The track starts next to the carpark and follows the Mangahao River, with several bridges to cross along the way. The track is a lovely sheltered walk, with a beautiful mossy landscape and you see flashes of the river as you walk.

The track itself has a lot of ups and downs, and it can be quite slippery and challenging in parts. The track was also very muddy in places—those of us with gaiters were glad to have brought them. This was despite having dry weather all weekend. So I’d recommend bringing gaiters in all conditions.

Those slippery ups and downs can be difficult for trampers who aren’t used to them. I hadn’t experienced so many ups and downs before, and having to take extra care added to the overall trip time—definitely something to keep in mind.

It’s definitely the kind of track where you want to stick together as a group and remember to all keep an eye on the markers. There were a couple of times when we lost the track and had to backtrack to find the marker.

When we set off, we planned for a 5-7 hour day based on what we’d read online. It ended up taking us 8.5 hours (with breaks) on the Saturday, to reach the hut. We had a bit of a late start, which meant we needed to tramp into the night and we did a river crossing in the dark.

Finding the marker on the other side of the river was a bit of a mission. But once we found it, we settled on a plan for crossing the river safely as a group and then set off. After the river crossing, the track is flat, much less slippery, and much easier to navigate.

Soon after the river crossing we reached the hut – which we were lucky to have to ourselves. Entries in the hut book indicated this was not unusual—it seems this is one of the less-frequented huts in the Tararuas. The hut itself is in a lovely secluded spot, with the river below it.

Nate, Vicky and Rose outside the hut (photo credit: Tash Harris)
Inside the hut

Although this track was initially graded EM, after completing it I would grade it a medium level track. I’d recommend choosing an easier tramp if you’re going on your first tramp with the club.

Preparing for a river crossing on the morning of day 2 (photo credit: Rose Jang)

Thanks to the group for a fantastic weekend of tramping!


Day 1: Saturday
8.5 hour day (including breaks)
Total ascent – 485m
Total descent – 366m
Start of track to Harris Creek – 4.5 hours

Day 2: Sunday
8 hour day (including breaks)
– Hut to Harris Creek – 1.5 hours
– Harris Creek to start of track – 4.5 hours

1 thought on “Mangahao Flats Hut – Tararua Forest Park”

  1. Thanks for this review of Mangahau Flats Hut, I’m so pleased we read it before setting off. It more closely resembles our experience, having taken 8 hours in and 7 hours out. Happily got to the river crossing about 5pm so didn’t need to navigate at night.
    The late start was mainly due to us not realizing how long the windy road took. A good hour careful drive if you don’t have a 4WD of some sort.
    It looks like the track has been cleared a bit lately with evidence if several trees along track being cut. There are a few hairy bits to navigate across, we had a teenager with us who was fine but not sure we would take a much younger child.
    Beautiful track, lovely hut.


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