Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


Save Trail Save

I've done it Done

Whakapapa/Wairere off the beaten track

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


Save Trail Save

I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 15 ?

Gnarl Factor: 39 ?








Login as a VIP to see driving directions, distance and time.

Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, some big hills

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops


Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +9.6%

Average Downhill Gradient: -9.8%


Login as a VIP to see the trailhead information.

Estimated Times to Run







Start in Whakapapa Village and make your way up the ridge track, found a few 100m up behind the visitors center on the left. It's a well formed track and then at the top of the hill a picnic bench.

From the picnic bench, there's some scrubby single track that meanders its way up the hill. Keep following until you are on the ridge crest and then continue up the ridge till you meet the big ring contour/spot height.

When you reach the high point weave your way and try to find a nice running line down to your left (east) some faint tracks exist through here. You'll reach a steep slope down to the Wairere river. It is steep and can be loose in places, but there are a good few weaknesses in the steep ground to scramble down, you may have you use your hands a few times.

Once at the river enjoy the beautiful formations of the gorge walls and beautiful clear water of the Wairere. From here there's a dry foot crossing most of the year round just below the pools and then you'll gain a single track path on the right (east or river right) side of the river. Follow this flowing track with small ups and downs to the Taranaki falls track.

You'll pop out right by the footbridge, a big step up for the small, and then hang a left and follow the track back to the village. Alternatively, you could take the lower track and see the stunning Taranaki falls. The lower track is a similar distance and has more shelter from the bush.

A neat loop to get you off the beaten track in the Tongariro national park. The Wairere stream has a great swimming hole and the valley is generally worth an explore further up if you have time. Beautiful mini gorges all the way out to the Taranaki falls loop track. Taranaki falls is worth a look too if you've not been to the area before.

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.

Parking available roadside and in the many car parks in the village. Also limited but no time restricted parking on the Tama lake taranaki falls carpark.

208 km

154 minutes




Route finding might be tricky to get down to the Wairere river. Head downhill till you reach the steep drop. If in doubt, walk upstream, hand railing the drop above the river. Weaknesses do exist so if it feels steep and sketchy, you're not in the right spot! Following the ridge if the cloud is low and the weather is poor may also present a challenge, recommend in good weather.

Generally good.

Thermal leggings, Short-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map

Crosses Wairere river, or water from Whakapapa Village.

Snow and ice in the winter months, and if it's rained heavily the Wairere river may be more of a wet feet crossing than a simple rock hop. The single track following the river can be muddy but still enjoyable after a prolonged wet spell.

Take care on the descent to the river.

TnT Pataka Coffee-Food Truck
Whakapapa Village
Great food and hot drinks, friendly chats and welcoming

Trail Legend


DJ Gillming

has completed Whakapapa/Wairere off the beaten track once in the last year.

Learn about Trail Legends.

You and Whakapapa/Wairere off the beaten track

As a VIP member you can record private notes for this trail, see all of your times and more.

Register Now

Already have an account? Login now

Trail Reviews

Wow, just this 1 trail made it worth renewing my VIP subscription! I have been coming to Whakapapa for over a quarter century, but never ventured past the picnic bench until discovering this WT route. Today was the first time I've ever loaded & tried following a route on my watch. It worked great, telling me if I started too far from the route ... We loved this route but think we would actually enjoy it even more in the reverse direction.
Pretty sure we achieved Slowest Know Time ☺️🤪 , 1 because old & unfit, and 2 because we kept stopping to take in the gorgeous scenery; also because I had to strip & go for a quick dip in that gorgeous pool!!!!

DJ Gillming

August 29, 2023

Wow, what an awesome trail. The section from the Wairere pools down to the Taranaki Falls toilets is amazing with multiple mini waterfalls and gorges. Definitely put this one on your to-do list!!

Richie Hudson

June 12, 2023

Login to submit a review

Trail Running Community

Find people who are interested in or have completed this trail run.

You must register or login to view this feature.

Register Now

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.

Taranaki Falls & Tama Lakes

Taranaki Falls & Tama Lakes

Length: 18.5km

Level: Beginner

Tongariro Switcheroo

Tongariro Switcheroo

Length: 32.0km

Level: Very Experienced

The Great Pinnacle

The Great Pinnacle

Length: 15.0km

Level: Experienced

Other trails nearby
Tupapakurua Falls

Tupapakurua Falls

Length: 7.5km

Level: Intermediate

Whakapapanui Pure Trail

Whakapapanui Pure Trail

Length: 6.6km

Level: Beginner

Silica Rapids trail

Silica Rapids trail

Length: 7.8km

Level: Beginner

Dome If You Want To

Dome If You Want To

Length: 13.6km

Level: Intermediate

Find more trails and peaks nearby