Trampers do not have to venture far to experience stunning alpine scenery in Tongariro National Park. By Jesse Wiltshire
The spectacular Whakapapaiti Valley and its namesake hut is a fantastic destination for an easy day or overnight trip.
Typically accessed via the Whakapapaiti Valley Track (2.5hr from Whakapapa Village), there is also a shorter, easier route (90min from Bruce Road), well suited to family groups or those simply wanting quicker access to the valley.
This route is a good option for those seeking a low-risk overnight trip in full winter conditions as it allows plenty of time to enjoy the sights and snow underfoot.
Following a section of the multi-day Round the Mountain Track, begin at Scoria Flat car park, approximately 5km up Bruce Road.
The first kilometre is non-technical, crossing two small creeks and maintaining a fairly flat gradient over rocky terrain. Already sitting at about 1450m in elevation, the weather is the main consideration here as the track is completely exposed until near Whakapapaiti Hut.
In fair weather, the reward for such open terrain is 360-degree views of dramatic volcanic landscapes; the peaks, ridges and valleys of Mt Ruapehu extend far into the distance.
The track climbs slightly as a spur is approached, which is sidled for a couple of hundred metres before it's eventually crossed and the highest point on the route is reached at over 1500m. Clearing the spur, trampers are greeted with a full view of the Whakapapaiti Valley, emerging from a series of cliffs and waterfalls on Ruapehu’s slopes. From here, the track descends steeply into the head of the valley through a series of switchbacks to the junction with Whakapapaiti Valley Track.
Turn right (west), towards Whakapapaiti Hut, indicated as 30 minutes away. Still descending, the track runs alongside a tributary of the Whakapapaiti Stream and is claimed for a while by stunted mountain beech and mountain toatoa before opening up to a shrubby clearing upon which sits Whakapapaiti Hut.
With 18 bunks and a per-fectly-situated deck looking up the valley towards Mt Ruapehu, the serviced hut is a lovely overnight stay.
The Whakapapaiti Valley Track continues from the hut down the valley, reaching Whakapapa Village in approximately 2.5hr. Beech forest, board-walked alpine bogs and stunning views make this route highly recommended, although trampers must consider the unbridged crossing of the Whakapapaiti River about 1km from Whakapapaiti Hut, which poses a significant hazard after increased rainfall.
- Easy / Moderate
- 90 mins
- From Whakapapa, continue up Bruce Road towards Whakapapa Skifield for approx 5km to Scoria Flat car park on right. 4WD may be required by skifield staff in winter
- Whakapapaiti hut via brice road.route (gpx, 14 KB)
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