This is a spectacular and challenging walk suited to reasonably experienced trampers. It takes a minimum of three days to complete and can be walked in either direction.
Time: 6 hr
Time is from from SH 38 - Manuoha Hut.
You must carry water with you on this part of the track as there is no suitable drinking water available.
This section starts on the true right of the Waiotukupuna Stream 100 m upstream from the Waiotukupuna Bridge. It is signposted from SH38. The first 1-2 hours is a steady, steep climb, through red and silver beech, coprosma, ferns and grasses. The rest of the walk to Manuoha Hut (4-5 hours) is less steep, although still a good climb. The hut is on top of Mt Manuoha, which at 1,392 m is the highest point in Te Urewera, with the top 100 m above the tree line.
On a clear day, the snow-clad peaks of the central North Island volcanic region can be seen to the south. Mahia Peninsula may also be visible to the east.
Manuoha Hut is situated 5 minutes past the trig. It has 6 bunks, a water tank and a small wood stove for heating (not suitable for cooking - carry your own stove).
Time: 8 hr
This section of the track is graded as a route, not a track. The way is marked but there is no formed track.
This is the longest and most strenuous part of the trip. The route from Manuoha Hut to Sandy Bay Hut on the shores of Lake Waikareiti winds down around the side of Manuoha through the 'Goblin Forest' (silver beech covered with moss and lichen). Twenty minutes from the hut the route passes onto a ridge system that eventually leads to the Pukepuke Range, after crossing the sources of the Waiotukupuna and Te Kei Streams and the Mokau River. This ridge is wide and has a canopy of beech with a coprosma and rice grass understory.
There are views of Lake Waikareiti and glimpses of Kaipo Lagoon at different points along the route.
About 5 hours from Manuoha Hut, the route veers to the right and descends to the Kaipo Lagoon. From the lagoon there is a well defined track down to Sandy Bay Hut. The track meanders past Sopps Hollow, Lake Henrietta and the Clay Patch which along the lagoon, make up 'The Tundra'.
Two hours along this track will take you to the Waikareiti Track junction, with a further 5 minutes to the Sandy Bay Hut. Sandy Bay is large and shallow, ideal for swimming.
Time: 4 hr
This is an easy, well marked track along the shores of Lake Waikareiti to the Waikareiti Shelter. This walk passes through beech forest and over several small water courses surrounded by lush ferns and mosses. The shelter is 3 hours from the hut. There are toilet facilities at the shelter.
From the shelter there is an easy downhill walk to the end of the track, 200 m west of the Visitor Centre. This section of the track passes through beech, kamahi and tawari with horopito, wineberry, putaputaweta and five finger below. Kotukutuku, the world's largest fuchsia can be seen from the track (look for dark red flowers in October/November).
Time: 7 hr
If you wish to see more of the area, there is a detour you can take through the Ruapani wetlands. This will add approximately 2 hours 45 minutes to your trip.
Instead of taking the track to Waikareiti Shelter, take a fork to the right, approximately 2 hours 30 minutes to the south of the Sandy Bay Hut. This track takes you past several small, swampy water basins that attract birds such as robins, kaka, kakariki and rifleman. There is also a good view back to Manuoha.
Two and a half hours from the Waikareiti Track junction you will come to Lake Ruapani, a larger body of water with no obvious outlet. The lake is in a small basin surrounded by beech forest, with smaller shrubs and grasses closer to the water's edge.
Another 1 hour 30 minutes along the track and slightly downhill, is the Ruapani Wetland. This is part of the same system of water basins. There is kahikatea (white pine) in this area, thriving in the damp conditions.
Past the wetland the track drops down for another 45 minutes to its end, giving good views of Lake Waikaremoana and the Ngamoko Range along the way. At the end of the track turn right to reach the start of the Waikareiti Track on SH38.
The directions in this guide take you from the true right of the Waiotukupuna Bridge (SH38), 16 km west of the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre. The walk is 32 km long and takes approximately 18 hours walking time, with two overnight hut stops and a possible camp out.
Note: Even in summer the weather can change rapidly and hypothermia is always a risk. Be well prepared.
True directions are the banks of a river as seen facing downstream: true left is the left bank facing in this direction, true right the right bank.