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Whakapapa/Wairere off the beaten track, Manawatu - Wanganui

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Whakapapa/Wairere off the beaten trackIntermediate

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Trail Information





Manawatu - Wanganui

Palmerston North

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, some big hills

Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops


2 (Slow)
1.30 (Moderate)
1 (Fast)



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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.

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Features of interest

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.

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 10%

Moderate Single Track: 50%

Easy Single Track: 40%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

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

Taranaki Falls & Tama Lakes

Taranaki Falls & Tama Lakes

Length: 18.50km

Tongariro Switcheroo

Tongariro Switcheroo

Length: 32.00km

The Great Pinnacle

The Great Pinnacle

Length: 15.00km


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Park anywhere in Whakapapa Village, be mindful of car park times.

    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



  • Staying Safe


    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.

  • Post run indulgence

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

  • Sponsor this trail

    If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch below:


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