Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done

Tawarau River

Hamilton, Waikato

Submitted by Jonathan Drake

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done

Grunt Factor: 55 ?

Gnarl Factor: 38 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, some big hills

Native bush

Plantation/exotic forest


Open farmlands

Open tussock/grasslands

Run Makeup


Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +9.1%

Average Downhill Gradient: -8.4%


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Estimated Times to Run

Not suitable






From the farm gate you follow a farm vehicle track along and then up into the hills.

Cresting the first hill, this track gradually turns from a wide dirt track to a two-wheel then grassed track before gradually narrowing to a single track as you wind your way along the hillside. The formed track drops down to a hut in the gully below you but resist the temptation to follow it, keeping a close eye on your markers you will see the trail step off onto a grassed step towards a bushed gully area.

Following from here through more farmland you will eventually come to a farm gate on the edge of native bush and enter a wide track of gradual downhill on leaves and litter, a good opportunity to open up for a while although there are the odd hollows and bogs in the path along the way.

From here the trail starts to get a little more technical in places. You will come to an open glade (Blackberry Flat) that you go through the middle of before picking up the bush trail again. After that, a short section of technical downhill will see you come to a suspension bridge.

There is a fork near here where track continues along the gorge towards Were Road, however, you will be crossing the suspension bridge. Another short technical section uphill and some moderate uphill running will bring you through to open grass track and then forestry road.

A first intersection has a left for Te Anga Road – stay right for Appletree Road and Double Falls. Another intersection follows shortly with signs for both Appletree Road to the left and Double Falls to the right – follow Double Falls in the first instance, this spur track will take you through basic vehicle track before a climb down to the falls.

Returning as you came, you then continue on the new trail towards Appletree Road. A good couple of kilometres of moderate bush running will then bring you to the highest point of the route and a fork, and onto a loop. Keeping to the left will eventually bring you along to more vehicle track and a nice downhill run before you are back into the bush.

From here you are on trails alongside and crossing the river, both by bridge and ford. A spur track to Tawarau Falls comes up and you descend the hill for a view of these beautiful falls, and then a long climb up again hanging to the chain anchored to the rock.

Continuing from the spur along the track you will eventually close the loop returning to the highpoint fork, and from here retrace your steps back to the start.

This route follows in large part the Tawarau River gorge and then tracks alongside the upper Tawarau River, and noticeable features relate to the river. There is a basic suspension bridge across the river gorge a few kilometres in, alongside visits to Double Falls and Tawarau Falls, and a long section of trail alongside and crossing the river. River crossings both by bridge and wading!

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.

There is an aging DOC sign "Tawarau Access Parking" on the left hand side a little over 2.5km along Speedies Road. Park here in available space on the grass alongside the road.

102 km

101 minutes




The route is generally very well marked with orange triangles, with orange triangles throughout and with orange triangles on large white-painted posts in the farmland.

Take care on the farmland not to drop down the 4WD track towards the hut you will see - here the track goes along a small shelf overgrown with thistle. Note that the track the goes towards a bush-covered gully - the track is not specifically marked at this point but you can safely enter the small amount of bush and while it is difficult to see where you are placing your feet in the undergrowth, the creek through the gully is a shallow trickle and it is easy to walk through here.

After crossing the suspension bridge you will get to an open area known as Blackberry Flat, the marker at the other end of the glade is not immediately obvious but continue through the middle of the flat and you will soon see it.

At the far end of the trail alongside the river there are a number of river crossings, be very conscious of your markers and where you see any oversized ones look for the markers across the other side of the river indicating your crossing point.


Waterproof leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Map, Gaiters

You will be traversing alongside or over a lot of water, although a lot of it is not accessible and on a warm dry day it's recommended to carry plenty with you. However around the back loop of the course there are a number of river crossings where it would be easy to replenish flasks if you're comfortable standing midstream. There's also a waterfall flowing down rocks adjacent to the path which you could fill from.

There are sections of the trail that would be extremely boggy in winter.

River crossings included knee-high wading in normal conditions and caution would be required following heavy rains.

Te Toi Coffee
Te Anga
Very close to Speedies Road, although at time of writing is temporarily closed (probably due to COVID tourism downturn)

Huhu Cafe
Your first major stopping point on the return to civilisation, and you will finally be back in mobile phone coverage.

Michael's Milk Bar
A great place to stop on the return for a classic Kiwi thickshake or any other dairy essentials required

You and Tawarau River

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Trail Reviews

Pretty mean, even the road there is mean.
The start through the farm is in a valley with good views rather than a wall of grass up the side of mountain.
Trail is smooth as, except the occasional tree fall (could do with a haircut)
With plenty to check out on the way. Double falls was unusual. And heaps of dead lambs. Probably got chased away by all the idiots who shouldn't be there during lambing season (aug/sept). Sorry bout that, I didn't know.

jace jones

September 5, 2022

I haven't in the past reviewed trails that I have authored but I have to recommend this one to the community - it is an outstanding run with such a variety of trail and scenery. There's long very runnable sections, slow technical climbs and descents, and all sorts in between. All in the great scenery and a location that's accessible but on the trails you are miles from anyone - I spent the whole day out without seeing another person. Loved it.

Jonathan Drake

January 11, 2022

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