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.
Kiwi Guardians programme
Take your family on a Kiwi Guardians adventure. Kiwi Guardians is a free, fun and easy way for 6-10 year olds to get to know this special place - grab a map, go and explore, and earn a reward! More about Kiwi Guardians
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
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
- Fires – fires are not permitted in Whanganui National Park.
- Weather conditions – track users are urged to observe the weather conditions and seek advice as wet, slippery conditions may be experienced at times, particularly during winter and early spring.
- Communications – this area is remote with no cell phone coverage. It is recommended that you carry an emergency alert device (e.g. PLB/Spot tracker).
- Dropoffs – there are multiple dropoffs on this track. Care should be taken while passing these.
- Windfalls – there may be windfalls on the track after weather events. Care should be taken while going around the fallen trees.
- Water – during dry periods, extra water should be carried as the shelter water may be dry or stagnant. Treat or boil all water before drinking.
- Wasps – wasps are a known hazard and are particularly common from January until May. Carry antihistamine if you are allergic to their stings.
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.