Totara Flats Hut, Tararua Forest Park In late summer, the grassy expanses of Totara Flats become a sun-baked golden brown, with the small totara copses offering shady lunch spots or sheltered camping.
Several huts have graced these pleasant river terraces beside the mighty Waiohine River. The present hut, a large and comfortable one built by DOC in 2003, occupies a terrace just downstream of the Waiohine’s confluence with Totara Stream. A veranda on the northern side gets plenty of sun and offers views upstream to where the Waiohine emerges from the confines of its upper gorges and arcs to the south in a great sweeping bend. On a hot summer’s day, the Waiohine offers many decent swimming holes, although the temperature rarely gets warmer than refreshing.
The best routes to Totara Flats Hut can be combined to make a satisfying through trip. Beginning at Holdsworth Road, the track follows the main route to Powell Hut until Pig Flat, where the trail to Totara Flats branches off. This wends its way through forest above Totara Stream to finally reach the swingbridge over the Waiohine. The hut lies just 10 minutes further. Beyond, the Lower Waiohine Track crosses the flats, which stretch for some two kilometres in one of the river’s few gentle sections. The track sidles through bush for the last section to the spectacular footbridge near Waiohine Gorge Road.