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Aorangi Crossing, Aorangi Forest Park

Admiring the view in Aorangi Forest Park. Photo: John Summers
Aorangi Forest Park
2-3 days
Washpool Hut, 6 bunks; Pararaki Hut, 6 bunks; Kawakawa Hut, 6 bunks
From Putangirua Pinnacles Campsite^ halfway between Lake Ferry and Cape Palliser. Exit at Mangatoetoe
BR33, BQ33
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Busy only in birdlife, with cosy huts and impressive views, Aorangi Forest Park offers Wellington trampers an isolated alternative to the more popular Rimutaka and Tararua ranges.

The trip begins down a dry river bed before entering the bush and climbing to a lookout over the Putangirua Pinnacles – a cluster of jagged gravel spires – the lair of a ghost army in the final of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

A road, cut through the forest, leads to a ridge and grassy track through windswept bush. At a clearing are views of the sea, the Rimutakas and Lake Ferry. It’s then downhill, steeply in places, to the six-bunk Washpool Hut, around 5hr30min from the start. Cross Washpool Creek and head up the spur to Pt765 and down another spur to Pararaki Hut. A few klicks on is Kawakawa Hut, another six-bunker.

The rest of the walk is down Mangatoetoe Stream, crisscrossing it every few metres. Continue past Mangatoetoe Hut (six bunks) onto terraces and farmland, past gorse and beehives among the manuka until reaching the sea. If you haven,t got a car waiting ehre you,ll need to walk or hitch back along the road to the start.