Rod Donald hut to Hilltop Hotel
Image: Andrew Smyth | ©
14.3 km one way
Tracks past Rod Donald Hut track junction are lambing/calving 1 September to 25 October. The track is open but leave gates as found, do not handle livestock and give them space.
This track is part of the Te Ara Pātaka/Summit Walkway.
From Rod Donald Hut, climb back up the access track to reach Waipuna Saddle. Then head east following the marked farm track through the tōtara graveyard, pasture and several DOC reserves.
Mountain bikers leave the main track briefly to by pass the narrow rocky track through Mount Fitzgerald, and take an easier farm track.
Soon after the Whatarangi Totara Scenic Reserve, the track diverges again. Walkers should head up to Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve and walk directly to Hilltop Tavern. The reserve track is steep and rocky, so take care and enjoy the beautiful forest including a giant tōtara, thought to be up to 2,000 years old.
The track emerges from the reserve onto Summit Road. Keep children close and take extreme care to look and listen for vehicles as you cross the road.
Mountain bikes are not permitted in Montgomery Park Scenic Reserve, so follow the farm track to Pettigrews Road; turn right at the end to reach the Summit Road, and right again to ride along the Summit Road.
The track starts from the track to Rod Donald Hut. It ends at Summit Road, Walk along the other side of the road for about 100 m, then go over the stile to walk across the paddock to Hilltop Tavern.
The track is suitable for people with moderate backcountry skills and experience. It's rough and steep in places.
The track is exposed to all weathers. It can be windy, cold and prone to low cloud in poor weather.
The track crosses private farmland - respect this and keep to the track.
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.