Last Updated: 29th Mar 2024


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Challenge / Ernies Loop

Hunua, Auckland

Submitted by Andrew Scottt

Last Updated: 29th Mar 2024


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Grunt Factor: 31 ?

Gnarl Factor: 35 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Plantation/exotic forest

Run Makeup


Gravel Road

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +10.6%

Average Downhill Gradient: -10.8%


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Estimated Times to Run







Start at the Repeater Rd junction, head up gravel rd for 0.8 km, take the track on the right, continue up past Reapter Camp site.
Muddy sections through overgrown track take you along and down an undulating ridgeline for another 4km with some views of the Upper Mangatawhiri Res.
The track meets the Gravel Road at the 4km mark and follow this to the north for 1.7 kms. Turn right down the hill at the junction. then take the track on the left (Ernies) at the 7km mark. Follow single track for 6km over a big climb always trending right in a loop to the end of Lilburne Rd and follow back past the dam face and up Moumoukai Rd to the starting point. Whoa!

0 km

0 minutes




Very patchy.

Windproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map

Service building with water tank at start (end) of Lilburne Rd.

Muddy / Wading along low sections

Trail Legend


Shane Holmes

has completed Challenge / Ernies Loop twice in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

I’ve done Ernie’s Loop previously so this was stepping it up adding in Challenge track. Over 1000m of very and my legs feel like it. The trails are fantastic lots of technical stuff with loads of roots trying to trip u up. Bumped into a pig hunter tracking his son and dog who were off into the bush after a pig. A very hard workout but so worth it. Definitely grippy trail shoes as the climbs and descents are gnarly in the wet.

Jon Culley

May 22, 2022

Holy Smokes!!

After a night of rain the clay slopes were like trying to run (walk mostly) on ice. Low cloud meant not a lot of views but the forest sections made up for it.

Would love to add Rata Ridge in next time.

Amazing run all around although next time will be in the summer!!

Jeremy Stronach

May 16, 2022

Really enjoyed this trail!
Ran this solo and started early at 6.30am.
Decided to park at Upper Mangatawhiri campground so I would finish after a downhill section and wouldn’t then still need to do the climb up to Repeater Rd and carpark.
Highly recommend starting and parking at the campground!! The toilet facilities are great (flushing toilets 👍) and the climb on the open gravel road in the early morning was okay (before sun came out)
It’s about 2.5k to junction with Repeater Rd- don’t get fooled by sign for challenge Track half way up… this won’t take you there…
From junction it’s another 800 m to campground on farm/ forest road and then the single track starts… it’s pretty overgrown and mostly up or down so not really runnable- but stunning!
At the end of challenger Track there is a nice section of farm/ forest road - good to get the km in…
Everything is so well sign posted- you won’t get lost!
Ernie’s Track is a beautiful Single Track with lots of roots and fallen trees, overgrown at parts and a few river crossings. You will get wet feet at one crossing… and I got chased by some wild geese too 🤣
Soon it starts to climb and it’s never ending… wow!
I decided to add on the Rata Ridge Track too and highly recommend this! Probably added an hour… It’s beautiful flat running terrain for first 2 km followed by a tough climb for another 2km and then about 1km of average Track with lots of roots until you hit the gravel road.
Overall this came to 28 Km and just under 1300 elevation, my moving time was 3hrs 45min - however elapsed time 5 hrs 15min… I took lots of photos and stopped for morning tea…
Adding Rata Ridge track (I did clockwise) makes this stunning loop even more spectacular!

I enjoyed this clockwise- if you go anti clockwise you have a long drag up the gravel road and get straight into some big climbs including lots of stairs…
Not sure if I would want to do it anticlockwise…

Not many people out there either, but came across a few runners.

Lara Brooker

January 8, 2022

An honest run with a great mix of stunning views, hill climbs, a little bit of technical trail through Ernie's and gravel road. Nice distance for another solo run

Murray Taylor

April 3, 2021

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Overlapping Trails

These overlap with this trail to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate activity for each.

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