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Into the Manson Country

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November 2020 Issue

Manson Country, Kaweka Forest Park

It’s the back of beyond, the far-flung reaches of the Kaweka Range, a place known as the Manson Country. You won’t find that name on any topo map, but it’s long been the local term for this stretch of country lying west of the Ngaruroro River.

It’s high country with flat rolling tops, beech forest lapping the edges, and the occasional stump leftover from when the area was burnt. The highest peak is Manson (1448m).

As late as the 1960s, the area was grazed as part of the vast Ngamatea Station, when it was known as one of the remotest blocks, and the hardest to muster. One anonymous poet wrote of the area:

It nearly makes the squatters weep
It takes five acres to a sheep
And each year sees smaller flocks
For sheep don’t thrive
on snow and rocks.

These days, it’s part of Kaweka Forest Park and boasts no less than three shelters: Manson Hut (built in 1972 by the Forest Service and since spruced up by DOC), Manson Biv, and the Old Manson Hut – a slab hut with a dirt floor and open fire built in 1958 and a piece of high country history.

Getting to the Manson Country requires a bit of time. You can walk up the Ngaruroro River, passing Cameron Hut, then climb up the Manson Track to Manson Hut. Or you can climb over the ridges, past Kiwi Saddle Hut, and down Kiwi Creek to Kiwi Mouth Hut, near where the Manson Track starts from a swingbridge over the Ngaruroro. Either way will take at least two days.

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Distance
16.6km
Total Ascent
1731m
Grade
Moderate / Difficult
Time
Two days each way to Manson Hut
Accom.
Manson Hut ($5, six bunks), Kiwi Mouth Hut ($5, four bunks)
Access
From the Napier–Taihape Highway
Map
BJ37

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