Herepai, Dundas, Cattle Ridge LoopExperienced
Submitted by Tim Carpenter
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Back country - remote
Native bushOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
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Run starts out easily along the river, with 2 swing bridges, before heading up the ridge. Top of the ridge, turn R) at the sign post toward Herepai Hut. From Herepai, head up the ridge line. The track from here is NOT MARKED and is a route only, so you need access to map, compass and a good sense of direction. It is slow going through the tussock but navigation is ok in clear weather. First main peak is East peak, before dropping down and up to West peak, and continuing onto Mt Dundas.
Before reaching Mt Dundas, you will hit the sign to turn L) and drop to Dundas Hut. There is a drop of a few hundred metres to get to the hut. There is no heating here, but a good place for a break.
Return to the trail and continue down the ridge (steep, mud and tussock) to the valley below and the first river crossing CAREFUL AFTER RAIN.
Continue up the ridge on the other side (there are now triangles to follow), to traverse the slope. This area is poorly marked but if you don't see a marker, return to where you lost it, and you will find the trail again. It is not used much, is rugged and often debris over the path.
This will then drop you out at Ruamahanga River Crossing CAREFUL AFTER RAIN.
The trail continues straight up the next ridge and just continues up for 600metre gain at a gradient between 30 and 50% on average.
The trail will open up onto the Cattle Ridge Top. You can see the hut - careful finding your way there, the tussock and alpine plants are thick on the ground and the track is poorly marked.
Cattle Ridge Hut is recently renovated and very nice. It is then a straight drop down the ridge to Roaring Stag Hut (you can see this from Cattle Ridge) with a Swing Bridge at the bottom. From Roaring Stag it is all runnable terrain back up to the turn off to Herepai, where you will hang a right to dash down the tree roots of the ridge, and follow the river back out to the start, Job done.
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Features of interest
Great access onto the rugged Northern Tararua Tops with access down to the Valleys
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 30%
Technical Single Track: 60%
Moderate Single Track: 10%
Head to Eketahuna, and then head out of town to the Putara Road End. The last few km is on gravel road.
There is a parking area at the end of the road, it is a remote location so take normal safety precautions
ALong the Northern Tops there are numerous places where you can take a wrong turn - if in doubt, use map, compass, or follow the gpx route on your device.
Navigation along the valley is also tricky, make sure of your path and back track if needed.
Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Gaiters.
Herepai Hut, Dundas hut, 2 x rivers, Cattle Ridge Hut and Roaring Stag Hut all have water
Winter guaranteed to be cold, can be snowy, wet and windy any time of year, very exposed on the tops, watch for ice in winter.
Navigation and the weather are the main hazards.
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