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Lower Matakuhia Hut via Upper Matakuhia Hut, Waipunga Forest

Ron the hunter at Upper Matakuhia Hut. Photo: Hazel Phillips
Area
Waipunga Forest
Distance
13.7km
Total Ascent
644m
Time
10-11hr
Grade
Moderate
Access
Pine Milling Road from the Napier-Taupo Highway or from Minginui via South and Boundary roads
Map
BH38
GPX File
Lower Matakuhia Hut.via Upper (gpx, yo 46 KB)
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According to DOC, the track from Upper Matakuhia Hut to Lower Matakuhia Hut isn't worth attempting. Wilderness begs to differ. You can begin the track on Pine Milling Road, off the Napier-Taupo Highway, which is quicker and more efficient, or do as this trips suggests and come from Minginui via South and Boundary roads.The track starts at the site of the defunct (and now non-existent) Matakuhia Saddle Hut, and wiggles its way easily down a hill and along the Matakuhia Stream. Cross a large log bridge, weave through loads of toi toi and womble along for 2.5hr to Upper Matakuhia Hut. A hunter named Ron is often in residence having been coming into Upper Matakuhia since his childhood. He does loads of maintenance on it and the track, as well as progressively cleaning up the track to Lower Matakuhia Hut. Ron makes the trip in every two weeks to check on the place, have some quiet time and service the pest traps. Time your trip right and you might get to say hello. For the first 45 minutes from Upper Matakuhia Hut, the going is easy. Cross the stream with a waterfall on your left and it then becomes more rugged for an hour or so as it sidles the valley. Eventually, you may lose the track markers, in which case just stick to the riverbed. At the junction with Opureke Track, head in an easterly direction towards Lower Matakuhia Hut. When Wilderness was there, there was windfall and debris to negotiate. Two small gorges could be problematic if it rained, but there is a bush route around one of them. There are plenty of blue ducks to be seen in the stream. After eight hours, Lower Matakuhia Hut should be in sight. Storms have caused flooding here in the past and it shows, both in the mess around the hut and the state of the hut,s floor. The hut book shows most visitors come via the Opureke Track and have strong words about it. After a night at the hut, retrace your steps to the road end.