Up and Over the Hill We Go!

Last weekend, me and some mates went for a walk over the Kaimai Ranges. These mountain ranges are significant as they separate the Bay of Plenty region, which was where I grew up, and the Waikato region, which is where I live now.

Our plan was to hike up the Kaimais and stay the night at this hut, the Motutapere Hut. The next morning we would then walk back.

Part One: Tuahu Walkway.

We parked at the end of Hot Springs road, and made our way into the forest, with our oversized backpacks on (that had more than enough food, but hey we could eat like kings still). Upon entering the forest, we saw a sign that said the hut was four hours away. We were expecting more along the lines of six to seven hours, so that was a bit of a relief I guess. This first part of the walk took around two hours, and is on a wide path which gradually ascends and winds. There was a stream crossing and some waterfalls, but they weren’t much of a problem since it hadn’t rained in over a month. Occasionally there were breaks in the trees, with a good look of the hills beyond.

Forest in the Tuahu Walkway.

After two hours, we reached a junction. This junction is on the ridge-line of the Kaimais, which joins up with the North-South track. This track can be walked in its entirety along much of the Kaimai ranges, but that would take up to a week to do. We had lunch at the junction, a mix of muesli and chocolate. At this junction, we saw a sign telling us to go left to our hut, but my friend noticed that in the other direction, there was a different hut (Te Rereatukahia) that was allegedly the same distance away. He insisted that we travel to that hut instead. I don’t know why he was so keen, but we eventually obliged. Was this going to be a good idea?

Part Two: North-South track to Te Rereatukahia Hut

Our second part of the walk followed the Kaimai ridge-line, in the northern direction. This part gets somewhat more difficult. The path is much more narrow, quite steep in places, and filled with tree roots and rocks. Much of the time you are covered in forest, but from time to time you can either see the waters of the Bay of Plenty, or good views of the Waikato plains. In this part of the track, you go over a series of peaks, but with much more uphill than downhill motion. After another two hours, we found the hut, what a relief!

The track is getting steeper, but shade is nice.


Waikato plains as viewed from the Kaimai Ranges.
Bay of Plenty side of the Kaimai Ranges.

Te Rereatukahia Hut

It ended up being a good idea that we chose this hut instead. Both huts are on a ‘first come first served’ basis. The first hut had only three beds, so if anyone else was there already, we would be camping outside. This alternative hut had room for twelve, and no one else turned up, so we had it for ourselves. Good choice my friend. These huts aren’t exactly luxurious, but they’re cheap to stay in, and the wilderness scenery is beautiful. Think of it as camping but with a roof on your head. They do have supplies like water and mattresses, and maybe gas for cooking or utensils, but for the most part you take what you need. My two friends both had gas cookers, so we went crazy with the cooking, eating pasta, curries, bread and some lollies for afterward. It was a cold nights sleep though, being over 500 metres above sea level. I’ll need to bring a more suitable sleeping bag next time.

Outside view.
The beds inside the hut (mattresses provided, you bring everything else).
View from the hut in the morning.


The next morning, we got up, and I could see the top of the volcanoes Ngaruhoe and Ruapehu from our hut, and they were over 200 kilometres away! It was such a clear day. Unfortunately, my phone camera and GoPro couldn’t capture them very well, but my eyes were pleased!

Anyways, we walked back to the car in the same direction we came. On this road, there were some hot pools, so of course we went there to relax, and after we had some Turkish food. All in all, I enjoyed this hike, but it was the people I walked with, who made it fun.

Check out some of the other hikes I’ve done:

Mount Te Aroha

Kaimai kauri tree hike

Hiking on Great Barrier Island

The Pinnacles

Mount Tongariro (Tongariro Alpine Crossing)

Canoeing down the Whanganui River (I know this isn’t a hike, but still…)

2 thoughts on “Up and Over the Hill We Go!

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