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The Wilderness 100: The 6 best trips in the Manawatu

Image of the May 2020 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
May 2020 Issue

Looking for a new challenge this year (or for the remainder of your life)? How about ticking off the Wilderness 100?


Welcome to the inaugural Wilderness 100 – an annual list of the best trips in the country. For the website version of this feature story, we’ve broken the trips down into regions and linked to those trips we’ve got route notes and maps for. 

So, without further ado, here are the best trips in the Manawatu.

1. Waipakihi Hut, Kaimanawa Forest Park

The large, open Waipakihi Valley could fool you into thinking you were tramping in the South Island. Traverse over the high, barren tops of the Umukarikari Range to the comfortable Waipakihi Hut, then spend a day ambling downriver, before exiting over Urchin (1392m). DOWNLOAD

2. Makahu Saddle circuit, Kaweka Forest Park

Take a tramp over Hawke’s Bay’s highest summit: Kaweka J. Visit the large memorial cairn and spend a night at the secluded haven of Back Ridge Hut before completing the circuit to Middle Hill Hut and Kaweka Flats, topped off with a visit to the region’s oldest backcountry hut – the Iron Whare (built in 1870).

View from Te Mata Peak. Photo: itravelNZ/Flickr

3. Te Mata Peak Giant Circuit, Hawke’s Bay

Though it’s possible to drive up Te Mata Peak, its pull as a walking destination is hard to ignore. The Giant Circuit takes walkers on a 5.4km loop track around the iconic maunga, including sections through The Big Redwoods and the saddle.

4. Sunrise Hut, Ruahine Forest Park

Just three hours from the road end, Sunrise Hut is an easy way to experience the Ruahine tops, and a perfect weekend trip for families and new trampers. The journey can be extended with exploration of Armstrong Saddle, or a return trip via Waipawa Forks Hut. DOWNLOAD

5. Te Ara ki Hikurangi/Mt Hikurangi, Raukumara Conservation Park

At 1752m, Mt Hikurangi is the highest non-volcanic summit in the North Island. The track to the summit takes around eight hours, but trampers can stay the night at Hikurangi Hut, around five hours from the car park. DOWNLOAD

6. Te Puia Lodge, Kaweka Forest Park
With hot springs at the beginning and end of this track, trampers may not want to spend any time actually walking it – but those that don their boots will be enriched by an easy 3hr stroll alongside the Mohaka River, with plenty of swimming spots along the way. DOWNLOAD