Northern Tararua Tracks

Tararua Forest Park

  • 30 min – 8 hr loop track
  • Medium

A number of little known tracks and routes in the northern Tararuas in the area between North Mangahao Biv - Punga Hut and the South Range Road.

Northern Tararua Tracks: Key information
Walking time
1 day
30 min – 8 hr
Loop track
Loop track
A range of grades from walking tracks (Sledge Track) to bush-bashing marked routes. Grades explained
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Northern Tararua Tracks: Find it
Kahuterawa Roadend or Scotts Roadend
Northern Tararua Tracks: More information

I've been nosing around this areas in an attempt to join the dots between Punga Hut and South Range Road on my 'Total Tararua Traverse' (phrase stolen from Manawatu Tramping Club).  I've yet to find a viable (viable with a full tramping pack and skin on legs intact) route right through, but have found a good network of shorter tracks which can be combined into interesting day loops.

Most of this area is owned by Palmerston North City Council, all of who's land is open to the public except the water catchment area north-west of South Range Rd.

The area is covered by mostly regenerating bush, with leatherwood on the tops over 700m.  As such, access onto the high summits is only possible were cut tracks exist: Platinum Mine Loop Track, Arawaru Track and Punga Hut Track  Elsewhere, below the bushline, the bush is generally navigable and opportunities exist for other routes off the tracks listed here. Additionally, various bait-station lines exist in the catchment - and other tracks connecting them wait to be discovered and documented.


There is officially no camping permitted in the PNCC-owned area - though the presence of unofficial huts and permanent tent camps on the land shows how well observed / enforced this rule is.  Camping is, of course, permitted on the DOC side of the boundary - where Punga Hut and North Mangahao Biv also provide more formal accommodation.


Loop trips

Loop trips are possible:

Platinum Mine Loop Track (easy tramp)

Back Road - Zigzag track (bike / easy walk)

Arawaru Summit - Main Ridge - pt 600 - Back Road (rough tramp).


Sledge Track

An easy riverside walk for all the family and all abilities, taking in a number of swimming holes and picnic sites.  

The track is platformed and graveled.  It starts off from the bridge at the end of the Kahuterawa Road and follows the true right (north) side of the river, passing a number of swimming holes and picnic tables.  The track starts of level and flat, before getting progressively harder from the 1km point onward - but never featuring anything more difficult than stairways to climb /descend.  

The track ends at Ross Creek, about 2km from the roadend. From here the Platinum Mine Loop Track or Quartz Creek track provide onward options.

Details are given on:


Platinum Mine Loop Track

A well maintained, cut/marked tramping track forming a loop on the tops of the range, taking in a number of historic sites

This track is marked by PNCC as 'for experienced trampers only' - but is in reality a well marked, well maintained loop track with a few moderately steep sections: well within the grasp of any tramper.  The track climbs from the end of the Sledge track to the tops to the north. where it performs a loop in the scrub / leatherleaf tops past a number of historic sites.  At its northenmost point It comes within 300m of, but doesn't quite reach, South Range Road.

Nosing 50-100m NNE from the northern tip of the Platinum Mine Loop puts you on a broad cut bait-station track marked with blue triangles which leads to South Range Rd at about the 14.5km mark from the Pahiatua Track.  The track is signposted 'Platinum Mines' at the Sth Range Rd end, and may join up subtly somewhere to the loop track.

Details are given on:


Loop track

This loop track heads off the Platinum mines track and forms a loop round the west branch of Otangane Stream. A partially-complete side-track links it to Arawaru.

To be documented


Platinum Mine Track to South Range Road

Since writing this route guide, I have received maps showing 3 routes from the Platinum Mine Track to South Range Road:

1) One route heads due north from pt 556 (the northernmost point on the track) to the road.

2) A second route drops east from pt550 to the forks, which it crosses and climbs the ridge to the south for 1km. From here 1 route loops round over pt573 to meet the road at pt622.

3) A third route branches off the 2nd 1km east of the forks, crosses the river to the north and climbs directly to pt622.

I have not yet waked any of these routes, so cannot comment on their condition.


Quartz Creek Track

A short, riverside, bush tramping track connecting Ross Crk and Quartz Creek:

An old signpost points right to 'Quartz Creek Track', leading upriver from the point where the Platinum Mine track ascends from the Kahuterawa to the tops above.  Following this track for 10 minutes leads to Quartz Creek where the track appears to end.

Onward options from here include the Arawaru Summit Track or riverbed travel further upriver


Arawaru Summit Track

A well maintained tramping track to pt624, and a well-traveled route beyond - cut through the leatherloaf to reach the summit of Arawaru for views over the region.

From the confluence of Quartz Creek and Kahuterawa Stream, head 10 to 15 meters up Quartz Creek to where a rope is stretched over the riverbed.  On the far (eastern) side of this, just upstream from a small bluff, a rough track can be identified climbing the valleyside. This soon becomes a well-maintained bait station line, cut through the bush and marked with orange triangles.  The cut track climbs steadily to pt624 where the track maintenance ends at the last baitstation.

Beyond here, flagging tape marks a well-travelled route south along the ridgeline towards Arawaru.  A track junction is marked by an excess of flagging tape at the unnamed / unnumbered peak 500m south of pt624: this is the junction with the Main Ridge Track which heads east towards pt600.  From the junction the Arawaru track continues to climb south, becoming vague in places, until it reach the bushedge 100m north of the summit.  There is a good cut track through the leatherleaf to to trig point at Arawaru - but it can be hard to locate the start of it where you exit the bush - nose around until you find it.

The Arawaru Summit features a trig station and views over Palmerston North to the west and the Tararua District to the east.

From Arawaru Summit heading north to Loop Track

A track has been partially cut running east then north to join the loop track.  This will be documented when I have details ...


Ridgeline Track

A rough tramping track / route connecting the Arawaru Summit track to pt604 - becoming less well defined & scrubbier to the south. A compass is advised.

From the unnamed peak between pt624 and Arawaru Summit, a tape-marked, roughly cut track heads east along the Main Range of the Tararuas.  After about 200m a branch drops south the the unnamed stream, where the remains of an old tent camp are present - and water is available.

Staying on the ridge the track continues cut and marked (though vague in places) swinging slowly south as it nears pt600.  Two tracks head north off this section of the ridge track: Middle Hill Track, halfway between the Arawru Track junction and pt600, and  Point 600 Track (at the pt600 summit)

Beyond pt600 the route is no longer cut, but initially still marked and reasonable to follow as far as pt604.  Beyond here it becomes scrubby and the various incarnations of track markers drop off until only a few orange / blue spots of dazzle give you only clue a route exists. The last of  these that I located was a blue one at the saddle between pt604 and pt782.  

The vegetation at the saddle is very scrubby and appears to get only worse beyond, becoming solid leatherleaf by the time the summit of pt782 is reached.  I have not been any further than the saddle and cannot comment: but going looks hard. You are only 2km from the Punga Hut track at this point - but it would be a very hard, very painful, very slow 2km if no cut route exists over the top.

I have since received maps showing that, from the saddle,  one branch of this track/route continues SSW towards pt782 as far as the 600m contour before petering out. A second another drops ESE to the forks of the Patupaiarehe.  A third track heads west from the saddle, crossing 1 stream and then turning NNW and following the ridge to the forestry   where it joins a logging track.  I have not walked or found any of these tracks/routes.


Middle Hill Track

A roughly cut, marked track drops from halfway between pt600 and pt604. I'm told this joins 4wd tracks lower down which later cross private land - but cannot confirm this. 

Please update this article with details if you check this route out.


Point 600 Track

An unmarked but roughly cut tramping route from the Ridgeline Track to the Scotts roadend. 

A broad, cut, but unmarked track heads due east from pt600 before swinging north to pt510. One spot of windfall made this hard to follow, but it was an otherwise easy track to head down.  It eventually enters PNCC-owned forestry a few hundred meters short of pt510, and becomes a grassy 4wd track. At pt510 you can head SSW to reach the start of the Punga Hut track via forest tracks, or continue straight on to hit the main forest access road over a ford just inside the main gate at the end of Scotts Road.

Walking in reverse it would be hard to pick out the start of the walking track where it leaves the forest track south of pt510.


Punga Hut Track

Detailed here:


Back Road

Easy walk / bikeride on old roadway

An old roadway connects the ends of Scotts Road and Kahuterawa Road.  Thisi has been closed to vehicles and now provides an easy but pleasant walking / cycling track.


Zigzag Track

Easy walk / bikeride on forestry tracks

A forestry / farm track - open to the public, and connecting Scotts Rd to Kahuterawa Road. Combined with Back Road.this allows a loop trip.


(GPS logs coming as work allows ...)


This track needs a photograph.
ID 8401

About this track

Added 25 February 2013 by madpommadpom. 20 revisions, most recently 10 June 2014 by madpommadpom.
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