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Matemateaonga Track, Whanganui National Park

Views across the Matemateaonga Ranges. Photo: Ian Maxwell
Whanganui National Park
3-4 days
Puketotara Hut, 8 bunks; Pouri Hut, 12 bunks; Omaru Hut, 8 bunks
Jet boat from Pipiriki or from SH43 at Strathmore, east of Stratford, where the signpost indicates the road to Upper Mangaehu Road
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Matemateonga Track (gpx, yo 43 KB)
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Matemateaonga is a comfortable four-day walk. Most people walk the track from west to east, starting at Kohi Saddle. This approach is largely flat with a downhill to the Whanganui River.

Perversely, this trip heads the other way and the first job is to get to Puketotara Hut. Head up the Whanganui River the easy way with a 40-minute jet boat ride from Pipiriki, disembarking at the start of the Matemateaonga Track. This leads west at a disturbingly sharp upward angle. The most difficult section of the tramp is the 90-minute climb from the river which offers views of Mts Tongariro and Ruapehu.

The bush is thick and it isn’t until you’re 20m from the hut that you first see it. The track is well marked and easy to follow. At times it is as wide as a Great Walk while at others, sections are narrow, winding through fern and trees. You can measure your progress with reference to kilometre posts erected alongside the track. The forest is magnificent and the lush vegetation is the highlight of this tramp. The walk from Puketotara Hut to Pouri Hut takes 7hr. Much of the day is spent walking through a green tunnel with dappled sunlight highlighting the ferns. On the way to Omaru Hut, you can climb Mt Humphries along a steep track. It only takes 30-minutes and is well worth the effort.

Back on the track, clamber over and under fallen trees all the way to Omaru Hut, from where it’s a relatively easy 90-minute amble to the road at Kohi Saddle.