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Waipakihi Hut via Waipakihi River, Kaimanawa Forest Park

View into the Waipakihi Valley from Mt Urchin. Photo: Neil Silverwood
Kaimanawa Forest Park
2-3 days
Waipakihi Hut, 12 bunks
From the Kaimanawa Road south of Turangi
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It’s worth taking three days to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Waipakihi. If you’re looking for an alternative to the busy Tongariro National Park and want to get away from it all, it’s highly recommended.

The trip between the road end and Waipakihi Hut can be completed in a long day.

Set out with a 600m climb up Mt Urchin – a good honest grind on a well graded track. With the clear weather, the view of the Tongariro National Park mountains from the summit are spectacular. Beyond Urchin, begin the knee-quivering descent into the Waipakihi and camp beside the river. Trudge up-valley, where the banks of the upper Waipakihi River are surrounded by beech forest broken up by tussock-filled clearings, until you reach the hut. With 12 bunks, Waipakihi is not your usual Forest Service design. It has a large middle section and two separate bunk rooms on either side, likely added some time after the completion of the original. It’s cosy enough with an enclosed fire. There’s even running water.

Join the Umukarikari Track, following red marker poles for 13km to the road end. This can be gruelling in winter.