Last Updated: 31st Oct 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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Waiotahi Karaka Trail

Hamilton, Waikato

Submitted by John White

Last Updated: 31st Oct 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done

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Grunt Factor: 21 ?

Gnarl Factor: 44 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Dog Friendly

Native bush


Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +9.1%

Average Downhill Gradient: -9.4%


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Estimated Times to Run







Starting at the Waiotahi gate, the trail works its way up past an old quarry, before the climb really starts to kick in! Winding its way up the hill, you'll find the trail crossing the Waiotahi stream multiple times. If there's been a bit of rain, just be aware the track can get quite muddy in places, however, the stream crossings are very small, so it shouldn't be a problem.

As you climb higher, keep an eye out for some gorgeous views out over the firth, and down into the valleys on either side. The trail is mostly covered in native bush, so it isn't too exposed. After climbing up and over the highest point, you'll start heading slightly downhill, until about roughly 6.3km in, where you'll come to your first track junction. This DOC signpost shows that heading north would take you towards the Kauaeranga and Crosbies Hut, however, you'll be heading south, which is signposted for the Karaka.

The next 1.6km of the trail is quite technical and slow going, as you wind your way along the side of the hill, before eventually emerging at the Red Cliffs. This is a great spot for a snack break where you can admire the views out into the Kauaeranga Valley, all the way down the Kaimai Ranges, and out over the Hauraki Plains. After this, you're onto the downhill segment. Recent trailworks have seen this section of trail widened and regraded, so it makes for a good opportunity to open the legs up, and enjoy all your hard work!

After crossing the Karaka Stream, the trail follows the stream down past some great little swimming holes. You'll cross over a few bridges, before finally emerging at the Karaka Car Park. If you're unable to get a pickup, you can loop back to the start of the Waiotahi via the monument.

The Waiotahi side of the trail follows an old mining access road. If you keep your eye out you'll notice lots of old mines, workings, and old settlements on the climb. Through the middle section of the trail you'll come to the 'Red Cliffs'. Here the track is benched into the side of the rocks, which due to mineral deposits are a striking red colour. On the way down the trail meets up with and follows the Karaka stream, so keep an eye out for some of the local swimming holes on your way down.

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 a small gravel parking bay just off the side of the road by the gate.

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The only navigation point is the track juntction to Crosbies Hut, about 6.3km into the track. The DOC signpost shows that heading north would take you towards the Kauaeranga and Crosbies Hut, however you'll be heading south, which is signposted for the Karaka.


Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map

It's best to take your own water for the length of the trip. If the weather has been calm, the water in the creeks should be drinkable, but it would be best not to rely on that.

The trail gets quite muddy after a bit of rain. Keep in mind there are several small creek crossings which aren't bridged, so the water may come up after long periods of rain.

Trail Legend


Amy White

has completed Waiotahi Karaka Trail 5 times in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

There are many slips present, most especially on the Waiotahi trail - please take care until these slips have been repaired.

Emma McEwen

October 30, 2023

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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.

Thames Over The Top

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Length: 25.0km

Level: Beginner - Intermediate

Crosbies Settlement

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Length: 27.9km

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Crosbies Hut via Karaka Track

Crosbies Hut via Karaka Track

Length: 26.0km

Level: Intermediate - Experienced

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