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The golden Waikakaho trail, Marlborough

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The golden Waikakaho trailBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Jennifer Rankin

Info Info
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Trail Information







Back country - remote

Out and Back

Very hilly

Native bush

Beginner - Intermediate

2:05 (Slow)
1:50 (Moderate)
1:15 (Fast)



This run is part of the DOC Waikakaho/Cullen Creek Walkway. As of 9 November 2021: Waikakaho/Cullen Creek Walkway is closed on the Cullen Creek/Linkwater side due to multiple slips and washouts. There is no timeframe for reopening the track at this stage. Hence this run is on the Waikakaho side only! DOC have confirmed this route is still available and accessible on the Waikakaho side and this route was inspected in January 2022 to ensure suitability.

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After leaving your car, proceed across the bridge and pass through the clearly marked first gate. Proceed through a second gate approximately 500m later and then follow the unsealed road for a further 2km.

You will come to two stream crossings. These are low flow in summer and easily crossable without getting your feet wet. Follow the marked trail up to a pedestrian gate. This is where the grunt begins.

The path is clear and easy to follow. Starting off the gradient is quite demanding (hence the recommended run-in) but the condition underfoot is smooth and wide and shaded by manuka trees. After a kilometer or so the track becomes rockier and moves further into tree ferns and native beech forests.

The track begins to have some more easily runnable switchbacks. The rocky outcrops, old mining scars, and native bush make this a truly magical run. All the way up you are rewarded with vistas out towards the Wairau Plains, Wither Hills, and Kaikoura ranges.

About a third of the way up you pass a sign indicating 'Tower site remains' towards the left, continuing on up the hill. After another kilometre or so you reach a sign indicating Loading Site and Village Clearing, take the right turn towards the Village Clearing.

At the Village Clearing proceed on to the track off to the left and continue up the hill, past the mine turn off, for just under a kilometre to the Cullensville/Waikakaho Sign.

Now turn right and continue up through the bush to the Lookout (basically a rocky outcrop).

Now go back the way you came and enjoy the fun of a marvelous, runnable, technical but reasonably easy descent. The top half of the descent is reasonably rocky and some care needs to be taken on the looser stones.

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Features of interest

This is an old gold miners trail and there are some old mining areas and features of interest on the route. There are some wonderful rock outcrops, small streams and bountiful birdlife.

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 75%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 25%

Route Data


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  • Access

    From SH1 take the turn off at Tuamarina onto the Kaituna-Tuamarina Road. Proceed along this road for just over 5km and then turn right into Waikakaho Road, follow this road for approximately 11km. The start can be done in two ways, for the benefit of most runners and ensuring the route is accessible to all , this course starts at the first DOC sign (describing ownership of the legal road through private farm land).
    Park your vehicle on the road side adjacent the DOC sign and proceed on foot across the bridge. The start of the route follows a unsealed road approximately 2.5km, there are two gates on the well sign posted route that you need to ensure you leave as you found them. This first 2.5km is relatively flat and makes for a good warm up and warm down.
    (N.B. if you own a 4x4 you are able to continue further down the road to the signed parking area approximately 2km in).

    This route starts prior to the bridge where the gated road begins. Parking can be done on the road verge, further parking (if driving a 4x4) is available by driving 2km further along the 4x4 track (Please respect gates!)

    26 km

    32 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    When you reach a sign that indicates Loading Site or Village Clearing turn right and follow the path uphill to the village, the path continues to the left of the village clearing.

    Very patchy.

    Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.

    There are a number of small streams and there is a river crossing at the start but the quality of the water cannot be verified. Would recommend carrying a minimum of 2l on a hot day.

    This route has a couple of stream crossings, in summer these do not have any impact. During winter things will be a lot slipperier and some extra care may be required.

    There is one large rock between the Village and the saddle which is slippery with moss and only has a couple of good footholds. It is located next to a steep dropoff. Extra care should be taken here.

  • Post run indulgence

    Great selection of food and a good outdoor dining area overlooking the river.

  • Sponsor this trail

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