Home / Articles / Waypoints

Into the Manson Country

Image of the November 2020 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
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.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Web exclusives. Each week we publish stories you won’t find in the magazine. View our latest web exclusives.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.

Total Ascent
Moderate / Difficult
Two days each way to Manson Hut
Manson Hut ($5, six bunks), Kiwi Mouth Hut ($5, four bunks)
From the Napier–Taihape Highway

GPX File

manson country (gpx, 11 KB)

GPX File

Your device does not support GPX files. Please try a different device.