Perched on the northern end of the Hikurangi Range in Ruahine Forest Park, McKinnon Hut is accessed via a long ridge climbing up from the Kawhatau Valley. Stay a night and return the same way.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

8 - 10 hr Advanced: Tramping track

Dog access

Dogs with a DOC permit for recreational hunting or management purposes only

About this track


Walk approximately 8 km up the Kawhatau River. The track to McKinnon Hut begins on the true left of the river with a steep climb up the ridge. This eventually takes you to the tussock tops of the Hikurangi Range. Continue past the turnoff to Crow Hut then drop down to McKinnon Hut.

Alternatively, you can make the trip over two days. To do this, continue on in the river for another 1.5 km and spend a night at Kawhatau Base, before crossing the river and heading up the ridge to the McKinnon Hut Track.

Beware, this trip may not be possible during times of high river flow.

Due to travel on the open tops this hike should not be attempted in poor visibility or bad weather.

Getting there

Access through private land at Rangitane Road end is no longer available. Access to the McKinnon Hut Track is now available via the Kawhatau River, starting at the Rangitane Road bridge.

To get to the Rangitane Road bridge, head north from Mangaweka and turn right off SH1. Cross the Rangitikei River and follow Kawhatau Valley Road. This eventually leads to Upper Kawhatau Valley Road which becomes Rangitane Road. The bridge is just past the turn off to Smiths Road. There is no car park.

Know before you go

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.


Te Papaioea / Palmerston North Office
Phone:   +64 6 350 9700
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   28 North Street
Palmerston North 4410
Postal Address:   Private Bag 11010
Manawatu Mail Centre
Palmerston North 4442
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