New Zealand Hikes

Here we have listed hiking trips we have done around the Hawke’s Bay area in New Zealand. Each hike is graded between 1 and 10, with 1 being a stroll, and 10 being a good, solid workout.

Swamp Track loop walk

Ruahine Conservation Park (grade 2)

hiking-swamp-trackThis is a nice, easy walk along mostly level tracks, through beautiful native bush, and should take 1 to 1.5 hours to complete, stops excluded. This is the walk for you if your fitness is less than average, or if you’re limited for time. It includes a stop at a bush hut (with an interesting story behind the name) for lunch, or morning or afternoon tea. The whole experience, travel included, should take no more than 4 hours.

Awatere Hut

Ruahine Conservation Park (grade 4)

awatere-hut-nzThis is a gem – maximum ’bang’ for your hiking buck. A superb combination of open tops with great views, genuine unspoilt native bush, a river, as well as an original deer cullers hut with great character and atmosphere. All within 1 hour’s walk from the carpark! Total walking time about 2.5 hours – average fitness required, as a total climb/descent of 250m is involved. The whole experience, including travel, should take approximately 5 hours.

Waipawa Forks Hut

Ruahine Conservation Park (grade 5)

hiking-waipawa-forksThis walk incorporates two huts, a 50 minute gradual climb up an excellent track through beautiful mountain forest and bush, morning tea or lunch at Waipawa Forks hut, and an adventurous hour’s walk down the untracked Waipawa River back to the car park. This is a great starter hike for the moderately fit, and an excellent combination of good quality track and roughing it! Note that wet feet are unavoidable on this one, but it’s great fun nevertheless. Total walking time about 4 hours, and the whole experience, including travel, should take approximately 6 hours.

This is also a great overnight destination for those who are maybe not that fit, wanting to get back into it, or wanting a relatively short overnight hiking trip. It follows the same route as for the half day walk, but at a more leisurely pace, allowing plenty of time to explore, look around, getting to know your hiking companions, or just relax and de-stress. Whilst it is a short hiking trip, it still gives you a true back country experience with an element of challenge, as the walk from the hut back to the car is down the untracked Waipawa river. Wet feet guaranteed (just making sure you know)! Day one takes in half of the Swamp Track as well as a brief stop at Triplex hut en route, followed by a 50 minute climb to the track junction. From there it’s another 30 minute, mostly downhill, walk to the hut, which has two bunkrooms with sleeping platforms and foam mattresses. Snorers can go in one, and the rest in the other! Day two is approximately an adventurous hour’s ramble downstream back to the car. Total walking time is about 4 hours.

An additional option after this hiking trip is a stop at the historic Onga Onga general store for a coffee/tea and cake – yum!

Stanfield Hut

Ruahine Conservation Park (grade 4)

hiking-stansfield-hutThis hiking trip combines a delightful walk up the West Branch Tamaki River (wet feet unavoidable!) to Stanfield hut, with the return along Holmes Ridge – just a great combination of river, bush and open tops, with marvellous views. Similar in some ways to the Awatere Hut hike, but just more of it! Even though this walk is a grade 4, good fitness is required, as total walking time is about 4 hours, and a 200m climb is involved. This walk is more of a full day hike, but it does depend on where your accommodation is located as to the total time required, which could be between 6 and 7 hours, travel included.

The hike to Stanfield hut is a leisurely 2 hour hike up the untracked West Branch Tamaki River, so although it is not a difficult one, it still gives you the feeling of being out of civilisation and in the remote back country. It also combines all the best features of hiking in this part of the Hawke’s Bay – rivers, bush, mountains and awesome views. The hut is situated in a small clearing, near a small lake, has plenty of character, but is still comfortable with sleeping platforms complete with foam mattresses. Plenty of time to explore, socialise or just relax. The 2 hour walk back includes the 200m climb up a bush track to Holmes Ridge, where great views and vistas open up before you, both to the east, down to the river, and to the mountains to the west. Back near the car park is a shaded picnic spot, with shelters, grass and barbecues, where you can relax a while, and maybe take a dip in the river before heading back.

An additional option with this hike one could do is a stop in the historic village of Norsewood, for a coffee/tea and cake! There is also a great little shop selling locally produced, high quality, pure wool knitwear and socks – worth a visit.

Barlow Hut

Ruahine Forest Park (grade 5)

hiking-barlow-hutThis hike is for those who hate uphills but love water and getting wet! It is a delightful tramp up the Makaroro River, all the way to Barlow hut, which is a cosy affair situated on the true right bank. A great variety of scenery, views, bush and landforms, not to mention some good swimming holes for the water babies brave enough to try them! Day one – to Barlow Hut, only about 3 hours hiking from the car, but totally removed from civilisation – a true back country/wilderness experience if you want to get away from it all. Moderate to good fitness is required, as this walk does entail numerous river crossings and some care and concentration when walking. Day two – a leisurely breakfast, and then retrace one’s steps back to the car, perhaps with a swim or two included on the way.

Sunrise Hut

Ruahine Forest Park (grade 5)

hiking-sunrise-hut_0Sunrise Hut is the most popular destination in the Ruahine Conservation Park, for good reason. The track is wide, easy and well maintained, and winds through beautiful native forest until it emerges on top of a ridge near the hut, where marvellous views await you on both sides (if the weather plays along!). It is not difficult, but does require good fitness, as it is a relentless 700m climb. Well worth the effort, though. In winter the views are just awesome in scope and beauty, as the tops are usually covered in snow – be prepared for walking through the fluffy stuff, as on occasion the snow level is right down to the car park. A short stop at Triplex hut is also included in this walk. Walking time on day 1 is about 2.5 hours to the hut, which is a comfortable 24 bunk affair with gas heating and cooking facilities.

The hut is further equipped with both sleeping platforms and bunks, with foam mattresses. There is plenty of time to explore the surroundings, and even take a stroll to the saddle if desired. Day two is a relaxing 2 hour return stroll downhill back to the car. For a bit of added adventure, it is possible to divert at the junction, returning via Waipawa Forks hut, and the Waipawa river. This hike can also be a 3 day/2 night one, staying over at either Waipawa Forks hut or Triplex hut.

An additional option after this hiking trip is a stop at the historic Onga Onga general store for a coffee/tea and cake.

Longview Hut

Ruahine Forest Park (grade 5)

hiking-longview-hut2This is the hike for those who prefer open country, with the wind in their hair. Also a very popular hike because of the interesting landforms, slips and expansive views. The hut can be seen from State Highway 2 on occasion, and as the saying goes, on a clear day, you can see forever – hence the name, Longview. From the car park the track almost immediately climbs 500m to the ridge, so good fitness is required. The reward is an ever expanding view as you toil upwards –well worth the effort! Surprisingly it takes only about 2 hours to get to the hut. This location is, however, often buffeted by strong to very strong winds, so be prepared. Plenty of time to explore the area around the hut, take photographs, or just relax. Day 2 takes in an early rise to watch the sunrise (if you want!), followed by leisurely breakfast and a relaxed trip back to the car, taking approx. 1.5 hours. Includes travel, snacks, lunch, dinner, breakfast and tea/coffee.

With this hike there is the option of extending the hiking time, distance and route by going up to the ridge via the Daphne track, and then trekking south over the tussock- covered tops to the hut, thus creating a varied loop walk. It will add approx. 2 hours to the total walking time. Needless to say, one’s fitness needs to match the extra effort required. The views, scenery and surroundings makes this option into an outstanding and very rewarding hike.

Daphne Hut

Ruahine Forest Park (grade 5)

hiking-daphne-hutThe hike to Daphne Hut takes in a good, solid 500m climb to the ridge, taking in great views along the way. The track turns north at the top, and soon descends down a spur into the headwaters of the Tukituki river. A relatively short walk upstream (wet feet unavoidable!) brings one to Daphne Hut, situated on the true left bank. This is the hike for those who want a real sense of isolation and remoteness from civilisation, and yet within 4 hours hiking from the car park. The hut is a cosy, comfortable A–frame structure, with sleeping platforms, foam mattresses and heating. Views, open tops, bush, and a river that runs past the hut – just a great destination to get away from it all. Day two brings a 500m climb back up the spur, followed by a descent with awesome views back to the car park – about 4 hours hiking in total. This is the hike for those wanting a bit more of a workout, so good to above average fitness is required.

Te Puia Lodge

Kaweka Forest Park (grade 5)

hiking-te-puia-lodgeThis is one of my favourite walks – I never grow tired of the awesome views, landforms, bush and scenery –something different around every corner! The track follows the true right bank of the Mohaka river all the way to the hut, taking about 3 hours. A superb combination of ups and downs, short detours into lush valleys, grassy flats, plus the opportunity to see New Zealand’s unique rare and threatened Blue Duck. You may see a deer as well! The Mohaka is further renowned for its trout fishing, so if this rings your bell, bring your fishing gear (remember to buy a permit beforehand). One can often spot trout from the track or the bank.

The hut is a comfortable 26-bunk structure with sleeping platforms and foam mattresses, as well as gas heating and cooking facilities. A bonus with this hike is that the Mangatainoka hot springs and campsite are only a 45 minute walk past the hut, taking in a crossing of the Makino river via a swing bridge, and further great fishing spots. Some good swimming holes as well, for those brave enough! Day two, and you head back to the car park, taking wistful glimpses at the views left behind. For those with aching muscles at the end, another hot spring awaits a short drive and walk from the car park. Good fitness required.

Ellis Hut Circuit

Ruahine Conservation Park (grade 3)

hiking-ellis-hutEllis hut is the oldest in the Ruahine Conservation Park, built in 1884. It reeks of history and adventures past, not to mention a tale of dark deeds, and running from the law. Enough said! Come along, and find out the grubby details for yourself. The walk is an easy, if longish, one, requiring average fitness. It includes a river crossing, a wide, easy forest track through beautiful regenerating native bush, and an easy walk on gravel forestry roads back to the car park. A delightful scenic surprise near the end for those who don’t mind wet feet! Total walking time of about 5 hours, and the total experience should take about 7 hours.