Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Rata Ridge - Hunua

Hunua, Auckland

Submitted by Luke Gillies

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 21 ?

Gnarl Factor: 34 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Native bush

Run Makeup


Farm Road / 4WD Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +12.4%

Average Downhill Gradient: -12.1%


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Estimated Times to Run







Start this run from the Upper Mangatawhiri Campground carpark on Waterline Rd heading further away from the direction you came down Waterline Rd to the car park. Continue through the gates to the base of the dam face and soon you will approach a fork in the road, take the left option here heading up hill to the top of the dam face.

Once at the top of the dam face take a right onto Lilburne Rd running across the dam itself crossing the spillway weir at the end of the dam. Continue climbing up Lilburne run until you are about 5 km's into your run and you reach Piggotts Hut. From Piggotts Hut the gravel road narrows down into single track. Only just beyond the trailhead you will see the Earnies Track/Rata Ridge Track Junction - Take Rata on your right.

You have now entered trail heaven!! Rata Ridge is a loop track so ignore any track options to your left and always continue right. From the start of the Rata track you will descend through lush mature native forest towards the Konini Stream above the head of the Mangatangi Dam (Hunuas largest dam). This first section of Rata is fast, soft and very runnable but it pays to not get too excited here as the ridge drop off is very steep and this is a quite an unmaintained tramping track. You'll also thank me for this advice once you hit the uphill section of a bush bashing 300 vertical metre climb over 1.5kms. Once you've looped back onto Lilburne Rd take a left back down the hill to the start.

You will run alongside the Upper Mangatawhiri Dam for the majority of this run - a rolled earth Dam completed in 1965. It is one of four dams in the Hunua Ranges and the second largest. The four Hunua dams supply 60% of Auckland water supply.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

No Public Transport. Plenty of parking in the campground carpark, usually a few campers and MTBers around so relatively safe but always be vigilant and don't leave valuables in your vehicle. Cars have been known to be broken into here.

13 km

18 minutes




There may still be a bit of warning tape around from when the tracks were destroyed by the March 2017 storms but as at March 2018 the track is open. Check the Hunua Ranges website prior to starting to check current track status.
At the start of the climb on the Rata track the orange makers go missing for a hundred metres or so. This is not much but the bush is very, very dense here. At this point a huge god-like Kauri is a good landmark to keep you oriented. Follow what is the only obvious path here until the makers are visible again, if you have traveled more than 100m go back to the Kauri and start over.


Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map

Ironically very little - It is not permitted to drink from the dam and it is usually quite silty anyway

After heavy rain there are a couple of creek crossings along the Rata track that can become quite deep so don't attempt if you are alone, Track conditions are well advertised on the council Hunua web pages

Take extra care on the descent down Rata Ridge, The dense bush I find gives the illusion of safety but the ridge drop off is very steep and in the places the track unstable so if you are a little inexperienced don't be put off just take it easy and you will be fine.

Calum's Bakery Papakura
3 Robb Street, Papakura
Best pies going - Regularly voted best bakery in Auckland

Trail Legend


Sandeep Nannepaga

has completed Rata Ridge - Hunua once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

This is great little run, yes there is a big climb, track is reasonably easy to follow and some great views as well.

Paul Matthews

September 4, 2022

The gravel road up to Piggotts campsite is wide and affords great views of the reservoir. We were mushroom and toadstool spotting. When we reached the Rata Ridge track it was amazing fun in the first section with really thin single track, roots and drop offs to contend with. Then you hit the climb and you have to look twice as the sign points up a near vertical track. Then it’s a hard climb up through beautiful bush with lots of roots and a fair few fallen trees to keep you on your toes. Just as it gets runnable again and you’ve got your speed up you’re back at the gravel trail. Then it’s pumping those legs back to the car park. Pity there wasn’t more trail running but a great place to spend the morning.

Jon Culley

May 1, 2022

Lots of vert in a short run which makes it quite challenging. Around 5.5km on Lilburne Rd mostly uphill, quiet and gorgeous views back to the dam. The actual Rata Ridge track is beautiful single track and fast for the first 2km or so, then it heads up and up and up! Definitely takes a lot of grunt, you’re scrambling up some very steep sections and lots of tree roots fo approx 1.5 km. Pop back out onto Lilburne then a fast mostly downhill 5km back to car park. I did a “Double Rata” all the way back to the parking area, rinse and repeat, this made it a really tough run, the pounding on the downhills definitely gets to you but was (hopefully) great prep for Xterra Waihi, 28 kms and 1266m elevation. I would give it more stars but the trail portion is so short that it hardly feels like a trail run.

Haydon Mace

November 1, 2020

Had a beautiful run on this trail today. Looks like theres been some clearing work done on the Rata Ridge Track. No bush bashing required, easy trail to follow, just lots of tree roots to be mindful of...and a big climb!

Matt Rowbotham

July 28, 2019

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