Beginning at the up-river end, the track climbs steeply from the River Road to a height of 260 m through fine lowland forest. Following an old, gently graded roadline for approximately 3 km the track follows the ridgeline to a clearing which marks the track's halfway point. A campsite with drinking water, a shelter and a toilet is available here.
Shortly beyond this point is the Taumata Trig, the highest point of the track at 572 m. The track then winds around the edge of sandstone bluffs to reach Taupiri Trig before descending steeply back to the River Road.
The two entrances to this almost circular track begin on the Whanganui River Road, 36 km from Whanganui. Both entrances to the track are less than 2 km apart.
Nature and conservation
Seated tramper, Atene Skyline Track
The focus throughout the walk is Puketapu hill. Many hundreds of years ago the hill stood at the end of a long, narrow-necked peninsula. The river once flowed in an almost complete circle around Puketapu but after years of erosion the river broke through the neck, forcing a more direct route to the sea and cutting off the meander.
Spectacular views from vantage points along the track include the cut-off meander, the Whanganui River, Mt Ruapehu, Mt Taranaki/Egmont, the Tasman Sea, and the Whanganui River's tributary valleys.
Know before you go
Do not leave any valuables in your vehicle. For a donation, you can use a private car park at Atene.
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.