Where: Atiwhakatu Hut, Tararua Forest Park, Wellington
Distance & Time: Two hours, 7.5km
Take: Food, stuff for an overnighter, water, sunscreen
Amenities on route: Bathroom at the start of the walk and 30 minutes in. Hut has mattresses and water
Cost of the walk: $5 per person for a bunk in the hut
If you like dogs you will ADORE this walk. It’s one of the few walks on DOC land I’ve come across where dogs are allowed and because of that there were so many cute puppies around every corner (disclaimer: every dog to me is a puppy whether they are a couple of months old or not!)
This walk is really popular with families and it’s easy to see why – it’s easy to get to, a relatively easy gradient to follow, a big hut at the end to have lunch in or to stay the night, a river to cool off in, and as mentioned before, PUPPIES! On the flipside, if you are looking for a quiet hut to get away from people for a night, this may not be the hut for you.It was really neat to see so many families out enjoying nature, and kudos to the parents of the wee three year old who hiked in, 7km is an awesome effort for a three year old (or anyone, for that matter!)
There are a heap of walks and huts in this area, which justifies the large campground and car park at the start of the walk. Next time I want to come back and do the whole Holdsworth Circuit but will need to wait for that perfect weather window to do so, as I know the weather can change super quickly in the Tararuas.
The walk starts off gently, just following the river through beautiful bush. The other cool thing about this walk apart from all the puppies? How many swing bridges there are!
The walk is really easy going, there’s no grueling uphill slog, or wading through rivers, or navigating super technical paths or wondering when in the world you’re finally going to arrive at the hut. It’s a really pleasant, easy walk through some beautiful New Zealand bush.
Oh, the swingbridges. Proper swingbridges that sway and bounce as soon as you walk onto them. Such fun! (I’ve talked before of my adoration of swingbridges, it doesn’t look like it is going away anytime soon).
There’s a little bit of the track where there is a detour in place and this is the only place where the track isn’t the same standard as the rest of it, but that’s to be expected with a detour!
Amy’s Advice – take your time walking to the Hut. Because you have to book a bunk in advance you don’t have to rush to secure your bunk so enjoy the walk!
There isn’t really any lead in to the hut, I just remember walking along the track thinking we still had half an hour or so to go until we got to the hut and then suddenly there it was! The timings on this walk were way off, we easily shaved 45-60 minutes off the recommended time that was on all the boards and signs and that wasn’t walking particularly fast.
The hut is right on the river so there were a few of us soaking our hot feet and enjoying the sunshine – the only downside is the lack of shade over the river and stones don’t make hugely comfortable seating but we managed! A couple of the hikers a campfire going that night and a family had bought a tent – there was enough tent space outside for at least 3-4 tents plus the 20 or so bunks in the hut. The great thing about this hut is that you have to book and pay for your spot before you arrive, so you know you’re guaranteed a bunk no matter what time you arrive. Saves having to rush there to make sure you’re not stuck sleeping on the floor in the kitchen!
The photos of me were taken by Paul, and I took the others!
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