Forks Hut, Diggers Hut and Te Ekaou Hut access

Ruahine Forest Park

  • 1 – 2 days one way
  • Medium

Several public and private access routes into these huts in the southern Ruahines and suggested round and though trips.

River travel above Forks Hut • By madpom. Licence: C.
Forks Hut, Diggers Hut and Te Ekaou Hut access: Key information
Walking time
1 – 2 days
6 hr – 12 hr
One way
One way
Riverbed travel, tracks and ridgeline routes Grades explained
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Forks Hut, Diggers Hut and Te Ekaou Hut access: Find it
Pohongina Vally East Road - Te Ekaou or Makawakawa Bridges
Takaparui Roadend
180m – 1,060m
Altitude change 880m

Routes into Forks Hut and Te Ekaou Hut


Several routes, both public and private, exist into these hut in the southern Ruahines:

  • Pohongina Valley road to Te Ekaou Hut via Te Ekaou Stream  - river and ridgeline route
  • Pohongina Valley road to Forks Hut via Te Ekaou Stream  - river and ridgeline route
  • Pohongina Valley road to Forks Hut via Makawakawa Stream  - river route
  • Pohongina Valley road to DiggersHut via Makawakawa Stream  - river route
  • Takapari Roadend to Forks Hut via rough ridgeline track
  • Takapari Road to Diggers Hut via DOC cut track

Additionally private (permission required) routes exist across farmland:

  • Pohongina Valley road to Te Ekaou Hut via farm track
  • Pohongina Valley Road to Diggers Hut via farm and tramping track 

Te EkaouBridge (Pohongina Valley East Road) to Te Ekaou Hut

6km, 2-4 hrs, river / ridgeline route

A 10m wide marginal strip runs up either side of the Te Ekaou Stream, providing good access as far as the Ruahine Park boundary. Grassed riverflats lie on either side of the Te Ekaou Stream as it passes under the Pohongina Road: going upriver is easy. Soon you enter a V shaped valley, but going remains good on grassy river banks.  Occasional strips of scrub or slips force crossings of the stream, but at only a couple of meters wide crossing is not an issue.  Going remains much the same for 1.5km until a 10m waterfall is reached - easily passable on the true right.  Remaining on the true right, grassy banks continue until the forks 500m before the park boundary.  A farm track climbs the true right face, but soon leaves the marginal strip and the only legal access without landowner permission is to drop to the creek as it enters a gorge.  Grassy farmland retreats to the plateau above and the sides of the gorge become forested with dense scrub forcing travel on the riverbed and often in the water. The creek is small and should pose no problems in all but peak flows.  After about 500m of river travel, a small sidecreek enters from the true right out of a narrow slot gorge.  This marks the park boundary.  

Te Ekaou Stream • By madpom. Licence: C.

As shown on the map, a farm track follows the west bank of this sidecreek to the hut, but this runs over farmland and as such permission is required.  Instead, climb the ridge to the east of the sidecreek - the first ridge within the park boundary, to reach a stand of pines above.  It's a steep tough scramble out of the creek, a slip 50m upriver provides access. Once on the ridge, things improve considerably: a roughly cut track follows the ridge first E then NE running parallel to the park boundary about 300m from the bushedge.  At first this runs through scrub 2-3m high, but later enters remnants of mature bush. After about 1.5km a junction of ridgelines is reached marked by a patch of windfall: a ridge runs NNW 800m to Te Ekaou Hut, and the main ridge swings east to intersect the Forks Hut track shortly before it descends to Forks Hut.

Ferns • By madpom. Licence: C.

For those heading to Forks Hut, continue east along the main ridge until the Te Ekaou Hut to Forks Hut track is intersected after about 500m.  It's a broad, marked, cut DOC track and you can't miss it.

Heading to Te Ekaou Hut, the shortest route is NNW along the ridgeline directly to the hut.  An old cut track runs along this ridge, hitting the 4wd track 100m SW of the hut. However, this ridgeline track has been all-but obliterated by windfall and it is very hard going.  Heading west to the cut track and doubling back is probably faster,

Te Ekaou Hut • By madpom. Licence: C.


Pohongina Valley Road to Te Ekaou Hut via farm track

3km, private 4WD track

Over half of the visitors to Te Ekaou obtain permission from the farmer to walk / drive up the farm track to the DOC boundary at Te Ekaou Hut..  This is 3km along a  4WD track and permission is essential. Contact DOC for landholder details.


Te Ekaou Hut 

Te Ekaou is a tidy, spacious 6-bunk hut just inside the bushedge. There's a wood burner and tank water.


Te Ekaou Hut to Forks Hut

Cut marked track, 2km, 45 mins - 1.5 hrs

Heading east from Te Ekaou, a well maintained, broad cut and marked track descends to the creek and climbs steadily to the ridge beyond.  The area is regenerating bush, with occasional mature trees standing tall above the low canopy - left as seed trees, or unsuitable for logging - I'm not sure. Reaching the lip of the Makawakawa valley the track drops precipitously to the creek. Forks Hut lies on the far bank, upriver of the forks.


Forks Hut

Forks hut is another 6-bunk ex-forestry hut.  Again featuring a pioneer stove, and with water from the creek 10m away  From behind the long-drop a rough track climbs to the ridge south of the hut, between the two forks.  Opposite the hut to the NW, a DOC 'animal control' track marked with pink triangles climbs to the ridgeline. I do not know if this connects with the other pink-triangled 'animal control' track descending the same ridgeline from Takapari Rd, but it seems likely.

Forks Hut (Ruahine Ranges) • By madpom. Licence: C.


Makawakawa Stream bridge (Ponongina Rd East) to Forks Hut.

Riverbed route, 6km, pools and waterfalls to navigate

I've only walked the lower section of this route, but hut book entries confirm that it is possible to travel up the river from the Pogongina Rd to the Hut.  The Makawakawa is broader and deeper than the Te Ekaou but flows through broader river flats offering gravel and river-rock travel rather than in-the-water options. The valley floor is mainly flat to the park boundary with no falls or pools to negotiate. However, about 5 river crossings are required to reach the forks (where two tributaries leading to Diggers and Forks huts) knee to waist deep in normal flows.

Above the forks, the southern tributary leading to Forks Hut is small, but narrow and gorged.  Hut book entries mention that several waterfalls and pools have to be negotiated and the route is not recommended after rain. 


Forks Hut to Takapari Rd

1. River route, 6km, 2.5-5 hrs

The northern branch of the creek, starting at Forks Hut, provides mostly good going until 500m from its head. Initially river banks are covered in thick scrub and regenerating bush, and travel in on river gravel and rocks.  A waterfall is reached after 1km which requires a brief but steep scramble - the true left worked for me.  Above the falls, the valley opens a little, and scrub is replaced by grassy banks and open valleysides, with clearings on the valley floor providing good camping spots.  Bush is replaced by 2-3m high scrub and slopes are dotted with fern  trees - though occasional standing totora remain here too.  About 500m before the next forks, a DOC animal control track marked with pink triangles climbs to the ridgeline to the north.  It is a fair assumption that this joins that dropping from Takapari Rd, and possibly also joins that climbing from Forks Hut, but this has not been confirmed.  Feel free to try them out and update this article one way or the other.

I ignored the track and headed on up the river which continued to provide good travel. Another waterfall just beyond the track required another scramble - true left again did it for me. Taking the northern branch at the next forks, climbing more steeply I entered thatcopper-coloured scrub that warns that leatherleaf is not far above. Going remains good until a tall 20m waterfall is encountered about 500m from the head of the creek. Take any good-looking route up to the ridgeline to the north - there are several grassy slips below the falls, and gentler wooded creeks just above.  All provide reasonable access to the ridgeline.  On reaching the ridge you'll pick up a cut, well-marked ridgeline route heading for the summit and Takapari Road.

The ridgeline route is marked with pink triangles and cut in places through scrub. On reaching the leatherleaf it becomes a 1.5m wide cut track, though as you climb higher the leatherleaf starts to encroach more and more.  The last 30m are uncut - presumably to hide the track for some reason.  The track reaches the Takapari Road 200m  beyond the end of the gravel. For those heading down to Forks Hut from the summit - head 200m past the end of the gravelled road and look for a small area of stumps where a pull-off has been cleared on the east of the now-boggy track.  The track west to Forks starts opposite this - a DOC 'this is an animal control track ...' sign after 30m lets you know you're in the right place.

Track from Takapari Rd to Forks Hut • By madpom. Licence: C.


Forks Hut to Takapari Rd

2. Ridgeline Route

I'd bet that the DOC pink triangle track climbing from 1.5km above Forks Hut and the DOC pink triangle track descending from Takapari Rd join up.

I reckon also that the DOC pink triangle track climbing opposite Forks Hut and the other two DOC pink triangle tracks probably also join up.

Someone can go and find out and report back.  If so - you'll knock at least half an hour off the above times.


Takapari Roadend to Travers Hut

4wd track, 5km, 1-1.5hrs

It's a 5km, 1hr stroll along the 4WD Takapari Road throgh an unending sea of leatherleaf to the Travers-A-Frme Hut.

Leatherleaf expanses of the Southern Ruahines • By madpom. Licence: C.

Travers sleeps about 4 on one platform but has no matresses and no woodburner.  There is, however, tank water.


Takapari Road to Diggers Hut

Cut track plus 1km of river travel: 6km, 1.5-3 hrs

The track from Takapari Road is by far the most popular way into Diggers Hut.

The broad cut and marked DOC track leaves Takapari Road 4km below Travers Hut.  It is well maintained – 1.5-2m wide through the leatherleaf.  However, the ground here is soft and wet, and the track is often very muddy.  The last 500m descent to the river forks is steep, but the track good.  At the river the track abandons you and you are forced to make your own way downstream on the riverbed.  The stream is wider than Te Ekaou – 5-10m wide, but of similar depth – generally knee deep in normal flows.  The riverbed is mainly gravel and stones and is reasonable going, but at least one crossing is required – several would be preferable for th easiest route.  Diggers Hut is 20m off the creek on the true left opposte a large grassy slip. The access point is marked by a large DOC triangle.

Track from Takapari Rd down to Diggers Hut • By madpom. Licence: cc by.


Diggers Hut

Diggers Hut is the same size as Te Ekaou and Forks – but has only 4 bunks.  There’s a pioneer stove and water from the river.  The toilet and meatsafe are some 20m away downstream.

Diggers Hut • By madpom. Licence: cc by.



Pohongna Valley East Road to Diggers Hut – riverbed route

Riverbed route – 6km, 2.5-5hrs

Makawakawa stream is much larger and wider than Te Ekaou, and the banks are forested throughout meaning travel is on the riverbed almost all the way.  However the bed is broad and for the most part travel is on gravel and stones.  Many crossings are necessary – mostly knee deep. In places however, the valley gorges out and crossings of deeper pools are required – waist deep when visited after intermittent overnight rain.  Below the forks leading to Forks Hut, the valley becomes shallower and travel easier.  Grassy flats are present in places making travel easier – but rampant budlia soon appears choking the banks and pushing you back into the riverbed.  It should be possible to cut onto the road running adjacent to the stream at its lower end – but by this point travel is so good that continuing to the Pohongina Road bridge is just as easy.

Makawakawa Stream below Diggers Hut • By madpom. Licence: cc by.


Pohongina Valley Road to Diggers Hut – private farm track

7km, farm track to bushedge, DOC track beyond

Head 100m downriver of the hut and look for the large DOC triangle on the opposite bank marking the start of the track.  The track climbs steeply up the valleyside and is overgrown (2011). It later crosses farmland to reach the roadend adjacent to Makawakawa Stream.  Landowner permission is essential – contact DOC for details.  About ¼ of visitors to the hut use this private track – so access clearly is granted on occasion.




ID 7529

About this track

Added 4 December 2011 by madpommadpom. 11 revisions, most recently 12 December 2011 by madpommadpom.
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