An appealing circuit
Unlike the neighbouring Kaweka Ranges, which have more than 30 huts and bivouacs, Kaimanawa Forest Park has less than a handful. Of the four public huts, Waipakihi is perhaps the most appealing, situated as it is in the head of the delightful Waipakihi River.
The 12-bunk Lockwood-style hut has two bunkrooms, and a central living area, connected by a veranda. It occupies a terrace with views downstream.
An appealing three-day round trip involves tramping to the hut via the rolling, barren tops of the Umukarikari Range (marked by poles), which offers fine views of the Tongariro volcanoes when the visibility is good. After a night at Waipakihi, a pleasant day’s tramping downriver leads to a good place to camp at the base of the Urchin Track. Then it’s a simple matter of climbing over Urchin (1392m) – a rounded knoll with good views – then down to the road end where a 2km road walk leads back to the start.