Tararua Northern Crossing

Track category



3 – 5 days


Trampers approaching the summit of Mitre on the Northern Crossing. Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.
Trampers approaching the summit of
Mitre on the Northern Crossing

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.

Getting there

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.

Places to stay

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.

Plan and prepare

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.

Disposing of human waste where no toilets are provided

back to top


Find out more


DOC maps: Discover the outdoors - DOC's key places, campsites, tracks and huts, and visitor centres on a map


Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

Alerts for Wellington/Kapiti places


Pōneke / Wellington Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 4 384 7770
Address:   18 Manners Street
Email:   wellingtonvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Pōneke / Wellington Office
Phone:      +64 4 470 8412
Email:   wellington@doc.govt.nz
Full office details

Give feedback on a recent visit to a DOC place