An overnight visit to Blyth Hut ticks all the family tramping boxes – forest, birds, waterfalls, mountain views – all in a concise weekend package suitable for a range of leg sizes. By Tui Hambrook
Leaving from the Waitonga Falls car park on Ohakune Mountain Road, the track climbs gently through beech forest to the junction with the Old Blyth Track.
Here, the trail continues east, opening out at the top of the first climb into tussock grass and Rotokawa. In mid-winter, this small tarn could be frozen solid.
The track then descends back into the trees to curve around the hillside towards Waitonga Falls, which can be viewed from the track.
The trail crosses Mangateitei Stream to junction with the Round the Mountain Track. Take the left-branching Blyth Hut Track on a steady climb along a spur for one-kilometre to Lupton Hut, a basic eight-bunker. There’s a stream crossing just before the hut and a couple afterwards, but they’re not problematic.
Lupton is just around the corner from Blyth Hut, which is tucked amongst the trees and in winter will be frosted with snow.
Joe Blyth, appointed Headmaster of Ohakune School in 1909, was a keen tramper who created the Old Blyth Track which commences further down Ohakune Mountain Road and joins with the Waitonga Falls Track. The Old Blyth Track would be the best option for visiting Blyth Hut with historical integrity, however, it takes longer and involves more uphill walking than does the Waitonga Falls Track. According to a Ruapehu Ski Club bulletin, Blyth climbed Mt Ruapehu 147 times.
The area around Blyth Hut in mid-winter is like a Disneyland of the outdoors. Frozen puddles, icicles and snow lodged in trees, that can dislodged on unsuspecting heads, provide multiple opportunities for exploration.
- Total Ascent
- Blyth Hut ($15, 20 bunks), Lupton Hut (free, eight bunks)
- 11km up the Ohakune Mountain Road