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Broken Axe Pinnacles, Tararua Forest Park

Walking towards South King, the steep step on the Broken Axe Pinnacles visible. Photo: Lorraine Johns
Tararua Forest Park
Atiwhakatu Hut (standard, 12 bunks); Jumbo Hut (Serviced, 20 bunks)
From the end of Mt Holdsworth Rd, off SH2
BP33, BP34

A trip over the scenic stretch of Tararua ridgeline encompassing the Broken Axe Pinnacles is a delight.

The ridge weaves through rolling tussock hills, with darker and larger peaks framing the horizon, every section revealing more of this imposing mountain range. The short but precipitous scramble over the actual pinnacles has long posed a siren-like challenge to trampers. In 1933, a group of four known as the Sutch party went missing on a two-day trip, sparking a rescue operation involving 200 people. Seventeen days later they re-emerged telling a tale of hardship that began when they were stranded below the pinnacles in severe conditions.

There are numerous huts trampers can stay at, but one option to get the most of the trip is to start in the afternoon with a short walk (2.5hr) to Atiwhakatu Hut.

From the hut, the track continues up Atiwhakatu Stream to the turn-off to Baldy. It,s a steep climb to Baldy and then pure tussock tops travel to Broken Axe Pinnacles.

There is a sidle track that allows trampers to bypass the pinnacles if need be, though traversing them on the high route is an exhilarating experience with sheer drops on either side.

Once off the pinnacles, head south along the tops over McGregor, Angle Knob and Jumbo. Depending on how you are doing for time, you could stay at Jumbo Hut (20 bunks) or continue on to Atiwhaktu Hut (12 bunks) for the night.

The super fast might even be able to get out to the road end.