Mangawhero Falls, Lake Rotokura, the wheelchair-accessible Mangawhero Forest Walk and the Rimu Walk are some short walks you can enjoy around the Ohakune area.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

Various times under 1 hr Easiest: Short walk

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


If you are pressed for time or would like to try some easy walking options to experience what the park has to offer, a number of short walks are available near the Ohakune township and along Ohakune Mountain Road.

Lake Rotokura

Time: 1 hr return

Signposted from State Highway 49, 12 kilometres from Ohakune en route to Waiouru. Drive one kilometre from the turnoff along Karioi Station Road, cross the railway line and continue to Rotokura carpark.

The first lake passed on the track is Dry Lake. A variety of native and exotic waterfowl - dabchicks, mallard ducks, paradise ducks, grey ducks and Australasian coots - can be seen on this man-made lake that is surrounded by rushes, swampland and beech forest. Flat, grassed areas above the lake are perfect for family picnics.

The track continues on past Dry Lake to Lake Rotokura. This lake is surrounded by ancient beech forest and on a clear days Mount Ruapehu is reflected in the lake’s calm waters. The beech forest supports plenty of bird life. Native birds such as tui, kaka, bellbird, fantail and North Island robin are commonly seen or heard along the track.

Rotokura is tapu (sacred healing waters) to Ngati Rangi, the local Maori people or tangata whenua. Respect this by not eating at or near Lake Rotokura or following the track past where it first meets the lake. Fishing is also prohibited.

Mangawhero Forest Walk and Rimu Walk

Time: 1 hr return and 15 min return

These two tracks begin at the same place, at the bottom of the Ohakune Mountain Road.

The 15 minute Rimu Walk, meandering gently through an understorey of ground ferns and kamahi and crisscrossing a quiet mountain stream, is a separate loop off the main Mangawhero Forest Walk. The high quality surface allows access for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

The Mangawhero Forest Walk begins by crossing the Mangawhero River from which it gains its name. Running over a bed of red tinged rocks, this river starts high up Mount Ruapehu and descends over two giant waterfalls, carving its way through the debris of previous eruptions. Following a faultline down the mountain the Mangawhero eventually joins the Whangaehu River.

From the river the track leads into a forest of kamahi, broadleaf and five finger, with giant rimu, matai and kahikatea trees reaching 30 metres or more above the forest floor.

Immediately after passing through a large cut fallen log the track crosses a large volcanic crater. The long process of infilling this volcanic vent has reached the stage where water, still lying close to the surface is able to support a swamp-type forest. The buttressed kahikatea, New Zealand’s tallest tree, will tolerate continually wet feet, while its close relative, the rimu, prefers drier places at the edge of this crater. A similar vent, a short distance to the west, supports an earlier stage of forest development.

Mangawhero Falls

Time: 5 - 10 min return

The track begins from a carpark on the Ohakune Mountain Road, 13 kilometres up from the rail bridge.

This short walk provides excellent views of a beautiful waterfall close to the road.

Here, not far below bushline, the beech forest is stunted because of the rugged climate. Spectacular icicles form around the falls in winter.

Getting there

Located on State Highway 49 in central North Island, Ohakune is the southern gateway for Tongariro National Park.

Know before you go

The weather in Tongariro National Park is very changeable. Make sure you have plenty of warm and waterproof clothing, and have enough food and water with you.

Location map

Location map of Ohakune area short walks.

Related link

Lord of the Rings filming locations - Mangawhero River was a location for Ithilien.


Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 7 892 3729
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Whakapapa Village
State Highway 48
Mount Ruapehu
Postal Address:   PO Box 71029
Whakapapa Village
Mount Ruapehu 3951
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