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Revitalised hut remembers hunter’s tragedy

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August 2023 Issue

Kapakapanui Hut, Tararua Forest Park

Kapakapanui is the significant, flat-topped maunga that rises above the Ngatiawa River, behind Waikanae.

At just 1102m, it’s not particularly high and it would have no views at all had not some fires in 1903 burned the bush on top. The fire, and later storms, left clearings with views of the Tararua Range in a  broad panorama, which is rare on the main range itself.

From the Ngatiawa Road end, a track leads upriver over four to five fords before a signposted fork in the track is reached. Here begins an 11km circuit over the top of the maunga, a grunty yet accessible tramp only 20 minutes drive from Waikanae.

I’d always considered Kapakapanui as a day-trip circuit. However, after the Backcountry Trust funded the Kapiti Branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association to give their hut a major renovation, I planned an overnight trip. The hut was built during 1967 and, today, is in excellent condition. It was built in memory of Bill Sinclair. Sinclair was club president, but he drowned with his brothers in a boating accident. It’s set in a clearing among the typically moss-laden beech forest that dominates the upper part of the mountain.

Although the track to the hut is steep, it only takes 2.5-3hr, leaving plenty of time for a leisurely evening before completing the circuit over the top and enjoying those sweeping views of the Tararua Range and Kapiti Coast.

11km full loop
Total Ascent
7hr full loop
Kapakapanui Hut (standard, six bunks)
Ngatiawa Road
BP32, BP33

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Kapakapanui Circuit (gpx, 9 KB)

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