IntroductionWalk deep into the wilderness of the Whanganui National Park on old Maori trail and settlers’ dray road. Shorter day and overnight opportunities are also available.
The track traverses an expanse of thick bush-clad hill country between Taranaki and the Whanganui River.
Kohi Saddle to Omaru Hut
Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 5.6 km
The track begins at Kohi Saddle in regenerating bush but reaches thick bush as the track ascends a spur to the crest of the Matemateāonga Range.
Omaru Hut to Pouri Hut
Time: 5 hr
Distance: 13.3 km
The track continues along the top of the Matemateāonga Range, initially through dense bush on the south western side of the range and then crossing to the northern flank. On a clear day there are occasional glimpses of the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park.
About 3 hours 30 minutes from Omaru Hut, a signposted track branches off the main track to the summit of Mt Humphries (732 m). It is known by Māori as Whakaihuwaka – “made like the prow of a canoe”. The name refers to the skyline shape of Mt Humphries and the Matemateāonga Range. This side trip of 1 hours 30 minutes return offers a sweeping view of three national parks – Whanganui, Egmont and Tongariro.
Back on the main track, Humphries’ Clearing is a further 30 minute walk. Pouri Hut is one hour further along the track.
Pouri Hut to Ngapurua Hut
Time: 3 hr 15 min
Distance: 10.4 km
The track continues to be an easy walk. It stays on the gentle crest of the range.
Ngapurua Hut to Puketotara Hut
Time: 3 hr 30 min
Distance: 11.7 km
The track continues on a gentle gradient with intermittent views to the north.
Puketotara Hut to Whanganui River
Time: 1 hr
Distance: 1.7 km
From the hut, follow the track as it drops abruptly off the Matemateāonga Range and steeply winds down through bush to the banks of the Whanganui River. This section of track is under maintenance and care should be taken. Just beyond the hut there is a sweeping view over the Whanganui River with the Tongariro peaks lying on the eastern horizon. A large sign marks the rendezvous point with the jet boat and the beginning of the river journey to Pipiriki.
An emergency phone is available at the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge.
Kohi Saddle – Mt Humphries – Omaru Hut – Kohi Saddle
It is a relatively easy 5 hour walk from Kohi Saddle road end to the top of Mt Humphries (732 m). Although not very tall, this peak rises well above the surrounding hill country. Spectacular views of Mt Taranaki/Egmont in the west, the Central Plateau volcanoes in the east and the flat topped Mt Hikurangi to the north make this walk worthwhile for all members of the family. On your return, stay overnight at Omaru Hut before a leisurely walk back to the road the next day. This walk is an excellent opportunity to introduce the younger members of your family to tramping.
Pipiriki – Bridge to Nowhere – Puketotara Hut – Pipiriki
Take a jet boat trip from Pipiriki up the Whanganui River to Mangapurua Landing and walk into the historic Bridge to Nowhere. Afterwards jet boat down river to the end of the Matemateāonga Track, walk up the ridge 1 hour 30 minutes to Puketotara Hut, to spend the night in podocarp splendor, with expansive views of the Whanganui River, the bush clad hills of Whanganui National Park and the volcanoes of the Central Plateau. The following day return to the river before jet boating back to Pipiriki.
Day walk opportunities
Kohi Saddle – Omaru Hut
Time: 3 hr return
An easy walk on a benched track close to Stratford but with a backcountry feel. This pleasant walk through podocarp forest includes spectacular tree ferns and provides an excellent opportunity for botanising. The native clematis starts to flower from October onwards, followed closely by the rata and the rewarewa (New Zealand honeysuckle). The track gently sidles across the hillside with astounding views of surrounding forest even in wet weather. Omaru Hut provides a pleasant lunch stop before returning to the road end.
Puniwhakau Road – 'The Letter Boxes' – Puniwhakau Link Track – Kohi Saddle
Time: 8 hr
This is a full day’s walk for the more experienced tramper through podocarp forest and regenerating manuka. This tramp provides views over the Mt Taranaki/Egmont ring plain. A topographical map is required for this route which is lightly marked with standard orange triangles.
The track is reached from SH 43 at Strathmore, east of Stratford, where the signpost indicates the road to Upper Mangaehu Road. The track entrance at Kohi Saddle is 20 minutes away. There are kilometre posts along the track from Kohi Saddle to Puketotara Hut. They do not continue down to the Whanganui River.
Transport by jet boat must be arranged with a transport operator, to either pick up or drop off your party at the river end of the track.
What to expect
Following an old road line, the track has a relatively even gradient, no river crossings and passes through native forest for most of its length, providing shelter from the worst of the weather. This is a lightly maintained track and may have windfalls, slips or be overgrown at various times of the year. It is therefore suitable for more experienced trampers.
The section from Kohi Road to Omaru Hut is usually in good condition and is often used by school and family groups as a day trip.
The connecting routes are for experienced trampers only. They are only lightly marked and the path may be obscured by vegetation.
- Fires – fires are not permitted in Whanganui National Park.
- Weather conditions – track users are urged to observe the weather conditions and seek advice as wet, slippery conditions may be experienced at times, particularly during winter and early spring.
- Communications – this area is remote with no cell phone coverage. It is recommended that you carry an emergency alert device (e.g. PLB/Spot tracker).
- Dropoffs – there are multiple dropoffs on this track. Care should be taken while passing these.
- Windfalls – there may be windfalls on the track after weather events. Care should be taken while going around the fallen trees.
- Water – during dry periods, extra water should be carried as the hut water may be dry or stagnant. Treat or boil all water before drinking.
- Wasps – wasps are a known hazard and are particularly common from January until May. Carry antihistamine if you are allergic to their stings.