- Aorangi Forest Park
- 2.5-3hr to hut
- Tauanui Hut (six bunks)
- From Whakatomotomo Road, off Lake Ferry Road. Trampers are best to avoid the valley during the roar (March and April), as this is the favourite time for hunters to use the area.
Tauanui Valley, Aorangi Forest Park
The Wairarapa’s Aorangi Forest Park often gets overlooked by trampers, who naturally are drawn to the much larger Tararua Forest Park. However, the Aorangi Range boasts some fine tramping, and often – especially when one of the notorious nor-westers is blowing – experiences better weather. Lying in the rain-shadow of the Aorangi and Rimutaka Range, the vegetation is notably different too.
One autumn I headed into the Tauanui Valley, on the park’s western fringes, headed for the six-bunk Tauanui Hut set in a clearing about halfway up. As I’d set off just after dawn, the slanting light of the early morning sun lit the forest, illuminating the various shades of green and I paused to take this photograph. Such places may lack the scale and grandeur of the Southern Alps, or indeed the Tararua tops, but they have their own, subtle beauty.