One of four classic tramps in the Tararuas, the Northern Crossing links the Ohau and Waingawa catchments. Depending on weather conditions it can take between three to five days to complete. It is recommended for experienced trampers only, and requires good navigation and map reading skills.
Like the Southern Crossing, it involves travelling along the open tops. The Northern Crossing covers some famous Tararua peaks such as Pukematawai (1432 m), Arete (1505 m), Waiohine Pinnacles (1400 m), Girdlestone (1546 m) and Mitre (1571 m), which is the highest peak in the park. The open tops section from Pukematawai to Mitre peaks is currently not marked.
The difference to the Southern Crossing lies in the river valley approaches instead of the long forested ridge approaches.
High river levels in the Ohau Valley can be a major obstacle, often necessitating a time-consuming deviation along Gable End Ridge.
The main overnight shelters are Te Matawai Hut in the west and Mitre Flats Hut next to the Waingawa River in the east. The main alpine huts are Arete Hut off Arete peak and Tarn Ridge Hut northwest of Girdlestone.
To access from the western side, on State Highway 1 at Levin, turn into Tararua Road and then into Gladstone Road. Turn right at the signposted junction which takes you to the start of the track. The tramp ends at the Holdsworth road end or the Pines carpark (see the Mitre Flats & Hut walk), although it can be started from either the western or eastern side.
Know before you go
The route across the tops is recommended for experienced trampers only. Good navigation skills are required, as particularly in misty conditions route finding can be difficult. Always carry a map and compass and know how to use them or ensure you have at least one experienced person in your party.
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.