The loop track is described walking from Holdsworth roadend to Powell Hut, Mt Holdsworth, Jumbo Hut, returning to the roadend via the Atiwhakatu track.
Holdsworth Lodge - Powell Hut: 4 hr
Starting from Holdsworth Lodge, carry on along the gravel track, cross the bridge over the Atiwhakatu Stream and follow the Gentle Annie track to Mountain House Shelter. This track is well graded and offers several lookout points to Mounts Holdsworth and Jumbo - for a short sidetrip follow the signpost to the Rocky Lookout, which offers good views over the Wairarapa. Mountain House Shelter is a pleasant resting spot.
Past Mountain House Shelter the track climbs steeply through dense bush and out onto the open tops. Powell Hut is located on the bush edge.
Facilities: 28 bunk beds, cooking, heating, mattresses
Powell Hut - Jumbo Hut: 4 hr
Follow the track leading north-east along the main ridge to the Mt Holdsworth trig (1470 m).
Follow the exposed ridge north to Jumbo Peak (1405 m). The track then descends east along a spur to Jumbo Hut.
Caution: Beware of high winds, mist and icy underfoot conditions on all country above the bushline. The open tops are often not marked and difficult to negogiate in misty conditions. Those tramps should only be attempted by experienced trampers.
Facilities: 20 bunk beds, cooking, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served
Jumbo Hut - Holdsworth Lodge: 4 hr
The main track to Atiwhakatu Hut is via Raingauge Spur. Descend on the benched track immediately below Jumbo Hut. Once in the bush, follow the track down Raingauge Spur to Atiwhakatu Hut. A rain gauge was once located in a clearing half- way down the ridge.
From Atiwhakatu Hut, follow the Atiwhakatu track to Holdsworth Lodge.
Facilities: 26 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Turn off State Highway 2 onto Norfolk Road, 2 km south of Masterton. This is signposted and there is a timber processing plant on the corner. Follow Norfolk Road 15 km to Holdsworth road end.
Daily rail and regular bus services operate between Wellington and Masterton. Taxis, or for large parties prebooked buses, can be hired for travel between Masterton and Holdsworth.
Nature and conservation
The circuit involves a climb through beech-podocarp forest to some of the best alpine tops travel in the park. The bush tracks are well marked and signposted and streams are bridged. The route on the open tops is marked with blue poles.
Know before you go
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.
Tararua Forest Park is renowned for its changeable and wild weather, particularly on the open tops. Much of the terrain is rugged, so trampers should travel prepared. Overnight parties should always include experienced trampers.