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An easy gateway to the Ruahine tops

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October 2020 Issue

Rangiwahia Hut, Ruahine Forest Park

Since the 1930s, there have been several different versions of Rangiwahia Hut along the tops of the Whanahuia Range, which underscores just what a superb and accessible location it is. The Whanahuia is an outlier of the main Ruahine Range, rising steeply above the broken hills and farmland of the Rangitikei River.

Access to the hut starts from the pleasingly lofty altitude of 820m, leaving a 500m climb to the bush edge. That, combined with a pleasingly benched track, makes it one of the easiest access routes to the tops of Ruahine Forest Park.

From the car park, the track climbs gently through forest, attractively flanked with mountain cabbage trees in places, and up a series of steps built to avoid an old slip. After more sidling, a most impressive view over a narrow, precipitous gorge is reached. The gorge is spanned by an arch bridge, dwarfed by its surroundings. Once over the footbridge, there’s more climbing through stands of mountain cedar, to the nicely appointed 12-bunk hut.

Rangiwahia boasts a verandah, with old skis affixed to the cladding – a nod to the days when the Rangiwahia Ski Club used to ski the slopes above the hut during the Great Depression. More modern features include the delightful artwork of local artist Julie Oliver, which adorns the woodshed and toilets.

Those wanting a longer trip back to the car park can enjoy a full day of tops travel to Mangahuia (1583m), and then down to Deadmans Track.

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Distance
3.68km
Total Ascent
636m
Grade
Easy / Moderate
Time
To Rangiwahia Hut 2.5-3hr; To Renfrew car park via Mangahuia and Deadmans Track, 6-7hr
Accom.
Rangiwahia Hut ($5,12 bunks)
Access
Renfrew Road car park
Map
BL36

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