Arete Sidle track

  • 3 hr – 5 hr return by the same track
  • Medium/hard

Track between Cow Creek Hut and Arete Forks hut in the Upper Waingawa valley in Tararua Forest Park.

Arete Sidle track GPS Profile • By TararuaHunter. Licence: C.
Arete Sidle track: Key information
Walking time
3 hr – 5 hr
Return by the same track
Return by the same track
Route sidles above Waingawa river gorge, from Arete Forks to Cow Creek Hut. Makes, steep short climbs in some places Grades explained
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Arete Sidle track: Find it
At Cow creek hut
Arete Forks hut
490m – 811m
Altitude change 321m

This track has a reputation for being difficult to follow and taking longer than expected. This is mainly due to the frequent climbs and descents the route follows, sidling above the steep Waingawa river gorge. There are 4 major side streams to traverse.

Frequent windfalls also make navigation difficult, at times.

The track is maintained by DOC, although it has been several years since the last effort. It is due for cutting in 2015. Re-growth of vegetation is generally ok, and is medium in some sections

Fit parties walking constantly should take between 3 to 4 hours. Allow for more if windfalls are present. The track is about 30 minutes quicker, traveling down from Arete Forks to Cow creek, versus to opposite direction from Cow Creek hut.

Many of the existing windfalls are marked with tape at present.(2014)

The actual track route climbs to 800 metres ASL (at the Cow Creek end), higher than indicated on the NZMS Topos


Alternate routes exist between Cow Creek and Arete Forks. The route up the Waingawa river bed from Cow Creek follows a steep gorge that entails usually 2 or 3 pools that must be swum/pack floated. The river bed has sections of large boulders and can be slow going. Since massive floods filled the gorge with gravel, making travel relatively easy, This debris has been washed away and the deep pools have returned. Allow 3 to 4 hours for this trip, and only in very low river conditions.

Another route traverses table ridge. A newly remarked track leads to the bushline above Cow Creek hut, leaving the Arete Sidle track after a 250 metre climb from Cow Creek. At the bushline the route is unmarked to the top of Table Ridge where a main spur descends Northwards down to Arete Forks. A stone cairn and stone markers indicate the start of this route. At the bush edge,above Arete Forks  the route follows an old unmaintained track down to Arete Forks. White permolat track markers are still present and can be followed down to the hut. Care is needed in ensuring the correct spur is followed. The route connects with the Arete Sidle track a short distance above Arete Forks.This route (from Cow Creek to Arete Forks can take 4 to 6 hours depending on fitness.

Overall, the quickest route between Cow creek and Arete Forks is probably by following the existing Arete Sidle track, except in perhaps extremely low river levels when the gorge route may be a bit easier.

ID 10377

About this track

Added 9 August 2014 by TararuaHunterTararuaHunter. 6 revisions, most recently 29 September 2014 by TararuaHunterTararuaHunter.
53 views in the past year (4 per month).