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The Wilderness 100: The 6 best trips in the Wellington region

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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 Wellington region.

1. Maungahuka Hut and Tararua Peaks, Tararua Forest Park

Maungahuka is arguably the best-positioned hut in the Tararuas, set near the largest tarn in the park and with views as far as Taranaki. Reaching the hut involves traversing the rugged Tararua Peaks and descending the infamous ladder. Continue the 3-4 day trip past Anderson Memorial and Waitewaewae huts to complete a classic circuit. DOWNLOAD

2. Mitre, Tararua Forest Park

Any dedicated tramper needs to reach the summit of the Tararua Range’s highest point. Tramp up the Waingawa River on the Barra Track, stay at Mitre Flats Hut, then climb to the 1570m summit. During summer, the Waingawa River offers an exhilarating exit route, with deep pools. 

3. Pinnacles Track, Pūtangirua Scenic Reserve

The Pūtangirua Pinnacles are a fascinating spectacle of geography, so beloved by Peter Jackson, he used them in both Braindead and The Return of the King. A 3-4hr loop is the best way to channel your inner Tolkien and explore the eroded hoodoos. DOWNLOAD

4. Tararua Southern Crossing, Tararua Forest Park

This historic and classic 2-3 day crossing of the southern Tararua Range is almost a rite of passage for Kiwi trampers. Ascend through forest to the historic Field Hut (built in 1924) then climb to the tops to reach Kime Hut. Traverse Mt Hector, The Beehives and the Dress Circle to reach Alpha Hut, then exit via the Marchant Ridge or to Walls Whare. DOWNLOAD

5. Tarn Ridge Hut, Tararua Forest Park

Situated at a lofty 1350m, Tarn Ridge occupies a magnificent perch with views over the northern Tararua Range and the Waingawa Valley. The 16-bunk hut provides important shelter for trampers completing a 3-4 day Northern Crossing.

6. Castlepoint, Wairarapa

The Wairarapa is not short of impressive coastal scenery, but there’s nowhere else as singular as Castlepoint. A limestone reef rings the aptly named Deliverance Cove, with the tall Castlepoint lighthouse positioned near the reef’s apex. An easy 30-minute walk leads across the edge of the cove to the lighthouse, with a loop walk and viewpoint beyond. DOWNLOAD

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