Ruahine Forest Park: Places to go in Manawatu/Whanganui

Hard fern in Ruahine Forest Park
Image: Jack Mace ©


The Ruahine Forest Park consists of beautiful bush-covered ranges with a range of recreation opportunities.

Place overview


  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Four wheel driving
  • Hunting
  • Mountain biking
  • Scenic driving
  • Skiing and ski touring
  • Walking and tramping

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Ruahine Forest Park

About track difficulties
About track difficulties
About hut categories

Snow skiing

Although attempts to develop snow skiing began in the 1930s there is now no formal skifield. Today the ranges are sometimes used for cross-country skiing, especially in the Rangiwahia area.


Trout fishing is a popular activity on several of the park’s rivers. Within the park rainbow trout predominate, although there are brown trout in some southern Ruahine river catchments. A Fish and Game fishing licence is required.

Heritage sightseeing

Visit these heritage sites in the park and experience history right where it happened:

  • Fulcher's Cottage - built in 1931, it's a reminder of New Zealand's pioneering spirit.
  • Ellis Hut - built in 1884 Ellis Hut is the oldest surviving hut in the Ruahines.

Four wheel driving

Takapari Rd takes an 11 km climb up to A-Frame Hut. Enjoy extensive views to east and west coasts from the tops. Be prepared for extreme weather conditions. Check beforehand that the road is open for vehicles.

Scenic driving

On the southern end of the Ruahine Range is the Wharite television transmitter. The access road to the transmitter provides a scenic drive up to a picnic area where views of the surrounding countryside, wind turbines and Palmerston North are found. This road can become impassable at times due to snow and other extreme weather conditions.

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    About this place

    Getting there

    The forest park stretches almost 100 km from the Taruarau River in the north to the Manawatu Gorge in the South.

    Ruahine Forest Park can be accessed from its eastern side and its western side.

    Know before you go

    Trampers in snow, Ruahine Forest Park.
    Trampers in snow, Ruahine Forest Park

    Ruahine Forest Park is characterised by a cool, cloudy climate with heavy rain at times. The area is renown for strong winds especially in the southern ranges, and there can be snow at any time of the year.

    • Get local advice on track and weather conditions before setting out.
    • Weather can change quickly with heavy rain and strong winds common even in summer. Always take warm clothing and a waterproof outer layer.
    • With heavy rain streams and rivers rise quickly. If there are no bridges, turn back and wait for the river levels to go down.
    • It is recommended that you boil, chemically treat or filter water before drinking.
    • Be aware that vehicles left at road ends have sometimes been broken into.
    • Always tell someone reliable what your tramping intentions are.
    • Topographical maps and a compass are essential. Many of the open tops are unmarked and should only be crossed in good visibility.
    • Be aware of park boundaries to avoid trespassing onto private land.


    Extreme fire conditions can exist during summer. The park is a restricted fire area, which means permits to light fires are required all year round.


    Only registered, avian aversion certified hunting dogs, Guide dogs, companion dogs (certified by the Top Dog Companion Trust) and dogs used for special services (including conservation management activities) are permitted in the park. All other dogs are banned. Hunting with dogs


    The Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) topographical maps that cover the Ruahine Forest Park are:

    • Topo50 map BJ37 - Kuripapango
    • Topo50 map BK36 - Taoroa Junction
    • Topo50 map BK37 - Tikokino
    • Topo50 map BL35 - Kimbolton
    • Topo50 map BL36 - Norsewood
    • Topo50 map BM35 - Woodville
    • Topo50 map BM36 - Dannevirke


    Te Papaioea / Palmerston North Office
    Phone:   +64 6 350 9700
    Address:   28 North Street
    Palmerston North 4410
    Full office details
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