- Te Rereatukahia Hut ($5, 12 bunks), Waitawheta Hut ($15, 26 bunks), Dalys Clearing Hut ($5, 16 bunks)
- From Hot Springs Road, Katikati
- BC35, BC36, BD35, BD36
The tramp can be started on Tuahu Track, which has a long history, being used by Maori, missionaries and miners and was converted to a bridle track in the 1890s. The area was heavily logged from the late 1800s until about 1970, and the often rugged terrain meant a combination of extraction methods including tramways. These historic access ways are now being used as tramping tracks.
Tuahu Track has been formed to almost wheelchair standard up to a couple of large kauri that escaped the logger’s axe. It soon climbs to the North South Track, which generally follows the crest of the Kaimai Ranges.
Heading north, there are views east to the Bay of Plenty and west over the Waikato to Mt Pirongia and beyond.
Te Rereatukahia Hut is reached after about 90-minutes of ups and downs along the track. This hut has been recently refurbished by DOC and the Kaimai Ridgeway Charitable Trust and now has a woodburner and extended covered veranda.
Leaving Te Rereatukahia means leaving the North South Track and descending about 500m to the Wharawhara River, before reclaiming most of the altitude near Cashmores Clearing.
The tramp to Waitawheta Hut, 7.5hr away, is the longest day of the trip. There are half a dozen or so river crossings in the Wharawhara and several windfalls to negotiate on the zigzag out of the valley, but these don’t detract from a pleasant day’s walk that meanders along a tramway towards the hut, built on the site of an old saw mill.
The next day is an easy 3hr walk to Daly’s Clearing Hut. That allows time to wander around Bluff Stream kauri loop to view some stands of kauri and have a cooling soak in the Waitawheta River beneath the gaze of Maungawhio Tapu, the magnificent knoll at the entrance to Bluff Stream.
From Daly’s Clearing, it is possible to reach the Franklin Road end in a relatively short time but it is worth doing the 5hr walk to Karangahake car park. This is a stroll for most of the way, with a highlight being a stand of pole kauri and tanekaha on a small spur halfway out. The one river crossing should be treated with caution especially after rain.
Prior to emerging at the car park there are a couple of old tunnels to negotiate, including the amazing Windows Walk. Have a torch handy.