Windfalls on track
There are several windfalls on the track and you may need to negotiate around them. Care should be taken while doing this.
3 - 5 days one way
Kohi Saddle to Omaru Hut
Time: 1 hr 30 min
The track begins at Kohi Saddle in regenerating bush but reaches thick bush as the track ascends a spur to the crest of the Matemateāonga Range.
Omaru Hut to Pouri Hut
Time: 5 hr
The track continues along the top of the Matemateāonga Range, initially through dense bush on the south western side of the range and then crossing to the northern flank. On a clear day there are occasional glimpses of the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park.
About 3.5 hours from Omaru Hut, a signposted track branches off the main track to the summit of Mt Humphries (732 m). It is known by Maori as Whakaihuwaka – “made like the prow of a canoe”. The name refers to the skyline shape of Mt Humphries and the Matemateāonga Range. This side trip of 1.5 hours return offers a sweeping view of three national parks - Whanganui, Egmont and Tongariro.
Back on the main track, Humphries’ Clearing is a further 30 minute walk. Pouri Hut is 45 minutes, further along the main track.
Pouri Hut to Ngapurua Hut
Time: 3 hr 30 min
The track continues to be an easy walk. It stays on the gentle crest of the range.
Ngapurua Hut to Puketotara Hut
Time: 4 hr 30 min
The track continues on a gentle gradient with intermittent views to the north.
Puketotara Hut to Whanganui River
Time: 1 hr
From the hut, follow the track as it drops abruptly off the Matemateāonga Range and steeply winds down through bush to the banks of the Whanganui River. Just beyond the hut there is a sweeping view over the Whanganui River with the Tongariro peaks lying on the eastern horizon. A large sign marks the rendezvous point with the jet boat and the beginning of the river journey to Pipiriki.
An emergency phone is available at the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge.
Kohi Saddle – Mt Humphries – Omaru Hut – Kohi Saddle
It is a relatively easy 5 hour walk from Kohi Saddle road end to the top of Mt Humphries (732 m). Although not very tall, this peak rises well above the surrounding hill country. Spectacular views of Mt Taranaki/Egmont in the west, the Central Plateau volcanoes in the east and the flat topped Mt Hikurangi to the north make this walk worthwhile for all members of the family. On your return, stay overnight at Omaru Hut before a leisurely walk back to the road the next day. This walk is an excellent opportunity to introduce the younger members of your family to tramping.
Pipiriki – Bridge to Nowhere –Puketotara Hut – Pipiriki
Take a jet boat trip from Pipiriki up the Whanganui River to Mangapurua Landing and walk into the historic “Bridge to Nowhere”. Afterwards jet boat down river to the end of the Matemateāonga Track, walk up the ridge 1.5 hours to Puketotara Hut, to spend the night in podocarp splendor, with expansive views of the Whanganui River, the bush clad hills of Whanganui National Park and the volcanoes of the Central Plateau. The following day return to the river before jet boating back to Pipiriki.
Day walk opportunities
Kohi Saddle – Omaru Hut
Time: 3 hr return
An easy walk on a benched track close to Stratford but with a backcountry feel. This pleasant walk through podocarp forest includes spectacular tree ferns and provides an excellent opportunity for botanising. The native clematis starts to flower from October onwards, followed closely by the rata and the rewarewa (New Zealand honeysuckle). The track gently sidles across the hillside with astounding views of surrounding forest even in wet weather. Omaru Hut provides a pleasant lunch stop before returning to the road end.
Puniwhakau Road – “The Letter Boxes” – Puniwhakau Link Track – Kohi Saddle
Time: 8 hr
This is a full day’s walk for the more experienced tramper through podocarp forest and regenerating manuka. This tramp provides views over the Mt Taranaki/Egmont ring plain. A topographical map is required for this route which is lightly marked with standard orange triangles.
The track is reached from SH 43 at Strathmore, east of Stratford, where the signpost indicates the road to Upper Mangaehu Road. The track entrance at Kohi Saddle is 20 minutes away. There are kilometre posts along the track from Kohi Saddle to Puketotara Hut. They do not continue down to the Whanganui River.
Transport by jet boat must be arranged with a transport operator, to either pick up or drop off your party at the river end of the track.
The walk follows the original Whakaihuwaka Road built in 1911 to create a more direct link between Stratford and Raetihi and the Main Trunk Railway. A pilot track was first cut along the range. This track was to be widened to a more substantial road, but with the outbreak of World War I, the work was abandoned. The original Whakaihuwaka Road was hewn from papa and remains reasonably intact..
High numbers of goats, low to medium numbers of fallow deer, red deer and pigs are present. Special restrictions apply and a permit is required.
Places to stay
The four huts on the Matemateāonga Track require three hut tickets a night. There are slots for the deposit of tickets in the store cupboard door which is located opposite the main entrance to each hut. Annual hut passes can also be used. Trampers should carry a gas cooker. There are wood burning stoves at the huts which are designed for heating but not cooking. All wood must be flown to the huts and so is expensive to provide. Water at these huts is from the roof and users may for their own protection, wish to boil or treat it.
About the area
The Matemateāonga Track along with the Mangapurua Track is one of the two major tramping opportunities available in Whanganui National Park. Using an old Maori trail and settlers’ dray road, you are able to penetrate deep into the wilderness of the park.
The track traverses an expanse of thick bush clad hill country between Taranaki and the Whanganui River. The 42 km track is usually tramped in three to four days.
Plan and prepare
Warning: The connecting routes are for experienced trampers only. They are only lightly marked and the path may be obscured by vegetation.
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.
Matemateāonga Track factsheet and map (PDF, 1301K)
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