This 4 hr return daytrip in the southern Tararua Range takes you over the Puffer Saddle and down Smith Creek with its fine stands of red/hard beech forest, to its confluence with the Tauherenikau River at the Smith Creek Shelter.
Note: Traversing a large, old slip on the track may add up to 1.5 hrs to the completion time of the return trip.
You can also walk further up the Tauherenikau Valley to Marchant Creek for views of the river and the young podocarp forest regenerating in the manuka on the flats.
Turn off State Highway 2 onto Marchant Road at the YMCA Camp Kaitoke turnoff. Near the end of Marchant Road, turn right into Kiwi Ranch Road. The carpark is located on the left, approximately 500m along Kiwi Ranch Road.
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.