Last Updated: 22nd Apr 2024


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Whakapapaiti Loop

National Park, Manawatu - Wanganui

Submitted by Mal Law

Last Updated: 22nd Apr 2024


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Grunt Factor: 22 ?

Gnarl Factor: 26 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, small hills only

Native bush


Open tussock/grasslands


Run Makeup


Sealed Road

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +8.5%

Average Downhill Gradient: -7.5%


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Estimated Times to Run







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.

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.

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.

Plenty of parking at the track start. Take the usual precautions regarding valuables.

16 km

13 minutes




So long as you keep an eye out for signposts and route poles there shouldn't be too much difficulty.

Generally good.

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.

Trail Legend


Rich Purvis

has completed Whakapapaiti Loop twice in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Totally love this run in my back yard. The first 8ks arent too challenging. Do not attempt to cross the river 8ks in during poor weather as it is can get deep and fast flowing. After the hut its quite a hefty climb up to the top but boy, is it worth it on a fine day! You can see all the way to Mt Taranaki

Orla Drylie

January 26, 2020

Great views, varied terrain. We ran back down the road rather than coming back into Silica Rapids as we were going to head out and do Tama Lakes in the afternoon. Loved it.

Anne-Louise Robertson

January 16, 2020

Beautiful track. I did it in two different sections, the Silica Rapids loop and an Out and Back to Whakapapaiti Hut. Really varied views and track. The river flats up to Whakapapaiti are a bit boggy at this time of year (early spring) but may be better in summer. I didn't enjoy the run down Bruce Road at all. There is a bit of a road shoulder but the traffic is travelling pretty quickly and there is quite a few cars/buses etc when the skiifield is open. If you can avoid it I'd recommend it.

Nikki Newham

September 22, 2019

Amazing variety of terrain and scenery which keeps things interesting and makes forgood adventuring!

Bradley Houghton

April 19, 2019

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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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