The North-South Track takes at least five days of serious tramping. The walk can be shortened by entering or exiting the Forest Park at a side track. This tramp involves many river crossings, steep and technical terrain, and includes remote areas which are challenging to maintain and may involve navigating around landslides and fallen trees.
The old North-South track along the crest of the main range from Mount Te Aroha through Pahiko and Wahine Rock is an unmaintained route, extremely muddy, and often overgrown. It is suitable for expert backcountry trampers only.
The recommended North-South track is via Waitawheta Hut, and the Waitawheta and Wharawhara valleys.
There are some huts which can be used during this tramp but camping is also necessary along the way.
Note that Kauritatahi and Mangamuka huts are well off the main track, and are accessed by difficult routes. Since the distance between these two huts is not considered a reasonable day’s tramp, camping is unavoidable. It is therefore better to skip both huts and plan to camp once or twice near Thompson’s Track junction, along the Aongatete River, north of Wairere Falls Track junction, and/or at Ngamuwahine Shelter.
The following itinerary, over seven days, is a guide only:
The track starts from Karangahake Gorge, off SH2 at Karangahake. The track exits on to SH29 at the Kaimai Summit.
There is a river crossing on this track.
You must be well prepared when tramping. Ensure you have a tent, sleeping bag, topographic map, torch, strong boots, warm clothing, a good raincoat, first aid kit, ample food and drink, a hat, and sunscreen. Do not rely on mobile coverage, which is intermittent.
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.