Submitted by Mal Law
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, small hills only
Native bushRiversideOpen tussock/grasslandsVolcanic
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From the trailhead follow the track over a wooden bridge and beyond through beech forest. Ignore the right turn for the Whakapapanui Track (within a km of the start) and continue on the undulating single track. A bit further on you'll come to a junction with the Silica Rapids Track - keep right on the Whakapapaiti Track.
After 5 kms you will cross another bridge and break out of the beech forest into more open tussock country. Follow boardwalk and trail up the Whakapapaiti Valley, enjoying the spectacular views of Mt. Ruapehu straight ahead.
After another 2.2 kms you will need to cross the unbridged Whakapapaiti River. It's full of big boulders and with a bit of rock hopping can be crossed with dry feet in normal flows. Head for a set of steps up a bank on the far side and pick up the marked trail that continues to head further up the valley. Just before reaching the beautifully located Whakapapaiti Hut you'll need to cross the river again another couple of times. The hut is just over 8kms into the run and has a big deck that offers great views of Ruapehu.
Follow the poled track uphill from the hut, keeping the river on your right. The trail gradually climbs away from the river, and then starts to steepen before reaching a junction at about the 9 km mark. Here you turn left, signosted 'Bruce Road 1 hr'. A fairly faint trail, marked with snow poles, now zig zags its way up a steep, scoria and boulder covered hillside that crests out on a spectacular ridge, giving you your first views of Ngauruhoe.
Follow the snow poled trail downhill and over Scoria Flat to reach the Bruce Road. Turn left and run down the main road for a little under 3 kms. The Silica Rapids Walk is a well-made gravel trail branching off to your left. Follow this uphill for a while before descending on trail and boardwalk to Silica Rapids. It's a worthwhile short detour to take a good look at these, otherwise take a right turn and head down the valley.
After a short while the trail heads back into stunted beech forest and offers a glorious couple of kms of single-track trail running, with the rush of mountain water just off to your right way the whole way down. The Silica Rapid Track emerges at the junction you ran through earlier in the day. Turn right and retrace your steps back to the start.
Features of interest
Stunning views of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and the surrounding area. Mt. Taranaki is visible on a clear day. Silica Rapids are worth stopping for a close look at too.
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 10%
Moderate Single Track: 15%
Easy Single Track: 60%
Sealed Road: 15%
The following trails overlap with this run 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 Strava activity for each
From SH47 (National Park - Turangi road) head up the Bruce Rd to The Chateau. A couple of hundred metres past the hotel, on the right hand side of the road is a car park for the Lower Silica Rapids/Whakapapiti Track. This is your start point.
Plenty of parking at the track start. Take the usual precautions regarding valuables.
So long as you keep an eye out for signposts and route poles there shouldn't be too much difficulty.
Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions).
Top up at Whakapapaiti Hut or the Whakapapaiti Stream is good for drinking from.
The higher parts of this route are exposed to whatever the weather is doing. Can be brutally cold and icy in winter and wind chill can make things unpleasant at any time of year. Be prepared.
Take care on the stream crossings and don't attempt after very heavy rain.
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See other runs nearby:
Round Ruapehu (RTM Track)
Taranaki Falls & Tama Lakes
Tongariro Northern Circuit
Ketetahi Carpark Time Trial
Taranaki Falls Beauty
Sash and Door Trail
Silica Rapids trail
Ruapehu Mile Higher Club
The Great Pinnacle