Whirinaki Track

Track category

Tramping track


2 - 5 days


Caves swingbridge, Whirinaki Forest Park. Photo: Fiona Hennessey.
Caves swingbridge

Whirinaki Track is the highest standard track in the park. It is a relatively easy trip suitable for people of low to moderate fitness.

Walkers can travel north to south from Whirinaki Carpark,south to north from Plateau Carpark, take in the Mangamate loop, or for the more adventurous out towards Te Hoe.

Below are sections which relate to the Whirinaki and Mangamate sections. For full details, refer to our Walks in Whirinaki Forest brochure.

Note: numbers relate to numbered sections on the Whirinaki Track map (PDF, 800K).

12. River Road carpark to Central Whirinaki Hut (4 hr 30 min)

Giant podocarp trees surround the River Road carpark. The track meanders down the forested river terraces of Oriuwaka Ecological Area to Te Whaiti-Nui-A-Toi Canyon. Here the river cuts through an ancient lava flow with spectacular results. The main track continues up the true right bank of the river, crossing Moerangi and Mangamate Streams. The next stop, Whirinaki Waterfall (1¼ hours ), is about 200 m off the main track to Central Whirinaki Hut (25 bunks). View the falls from the bridge.

Retrace your steps to the Central Whirinaki Hut turn-off. A further 45 minutes from the turn-off is Vern’s Camp, the site of an old track cutters camp. This is a good place to stop for lunch with the recently upgraded shelter (with fireplace), with water available at the stream at the southern end of the clearing. From Vern’s Camp the track follows high above the river giving some birds-eye views. Beware of ongaonga (stinging nettle)! Whio (blue duck) are often seen along this section of the track. Kakanui Stream is the next convenient place for a stop (1 hour).

Central Whirinaki Hut stands in a large grassy clearing, with the river nearby. It is about 1½ hours from Kakanui Stream and about 4½ hours from the carpark. There are hut warden quarters located at the hut and volunteer hut warden opportunities are regularly available.

13. Central Whirinaki Hut to Upper Whirinaki Hut (3 hr via Taumutu Stream)

The track goes up river to Taumutu Stream (45 minutes) and branches. The turn off to Upper Whirinaki Hut and Mangamate Hut is to your left. At the next intersection turn right (the left hand track leads to Mangamate Hut). After climbing to a small saddle the track drops down through forest to a clearing. Upper Whirinaki Hut (9 bunks) is at the end of the clearing (2¼ hours).

14. Central Whirinaki Hut to Upper Whirinaki Hut (6hr via cave)

This track is not recommended due to storm damage. It is currently only a route and only experienced trampers should attempt due to extensive windfall.

15. Central Whirinaki Hut to Plateau carpark (2 hr 45 min)

From the cave bridge junction, follow the right hand track. It is steep at first but the grade eases on the ridge. A steady uphill grade is maintained right up to the carpark.

16. Upper Whirinaki Hut to Mangamate Hut (5 hr)

NB: Topographic map V18 has both Mangamate Hut and the track to it in the wrong location. Follow the track markings carefully.

Retrace your steps back to Taumutu Stream. Follow the Taumutu downstream to meet Kakaiti Stream. At the junction the track divides, with the left branch following Taumutu Stream back to Central Whirinaki Hut while the right branch heads up Kakaiti Stream to Mangamate Hut (9 bunks). On climbing out of the stream and crossing a saddle, the track drops into Kakanui Stream. Follow the stream until it picks up the benched track which leads to the new Mangamate Hut site.

17.Mangamate Hut to River Road carpark (3 hr 30 min)

From Mangamate Hut the track sidles down the valley, until it reaches the old hut site. From this point the trail follows the stream until it intersects with the main Whirinaki Track. Turn right to bring you back to the River Road Carpark in a further 50 minutes.

There are many stream crossings in sections 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17. They can be unsafe in high rainfall. If unsure, return to the hut until the stream can be negotiated safely.

Getting there

Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park is 90 km south-east of Rotorua and reached via Minginui Road, off Te Whaiti Road (old SH38), then via Old Te Whaiti Road and River Road, to the River Road car park. 

The Southern entrance is 43 km from Minginui along forestry roads. From Minginui turn up Main road, which becomes South road. About 30 minutes later turn left onto Pine Milling road and follow the 'Whirinaki Track' signs to Plateau  car park.

Plan and prepare

Be careful of ongaonga. Photo: G Woodward.

The weather in the park can be very unpredictable and visitors should be prepared for cold, wet spells even at the height of summer. 

Please ensure you have strong, comfortable shoes, warm clothing, a good raincoat, first aid kit, a gas cooker and plenty of food and drink.

You should check the route with Department of Conservation staff before you leave and obtain up-to-date information about the area, including track updates.

Stinging nettle

Beware of ongaonga or stinging nettle. This can have a painful sting, which may last several days.

Related link

Walks in Whirinaki Forest (PDF, 850K)

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Te Urewera Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 6 837 3803
Address:   House 2 Aniwaniwa
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Te Urewera 4195
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Phone:      +64 7 366 1080
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