Last Updated: 1st Jan 2024


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Hihi Grunter

Tairua, Waikato

Submitted by Simon

Last Updated: 1st Jan 2024


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 33 ?

Gnarl Factor: 58 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Very hilly

Native bush

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +17%

Average Downhill Gradient: -16.8%


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Estimated Times to Run







This is a hill and back run (not hilly just 1 long hill). Start at the carpark and head along the track a few hundred metres till you cross a small bridge. Immediately after this turn right on the Main Ridge Track (also one end of the water race track). From here every right hand option is your friend (avoid the left options today, they are undulating nice easy tracks for your recovery tomorrow).

Keep on the main ridge track up to a small lookout diversion you'll see on your left near the top of the first climb (its worth the look). After this small diversion back on the track you will be lulled into a false sense of security on a fun downhill that is short lived and meets the junction to Collins Drive West (ignore this for the moment) and keep on the Main Ridge Track to Hihi and Paton Stream Dam, which is of course up, up and up. If in doubt head up.

After the next climb you'll see the Paton Stream Dam track junction on your right (again that's for later) right now you're focussed on burning the quads so keep going up. You'll find this section gets into super pretty bush (moss, small streams unless its the peak of summer) and nice cover overhead. Follow this all the way to Hihi which has a short antenna station on it - admire the views, take a selfie of your bright red sweaty face and if you've been puffing like a steam train reflect on the fact you just climbed from 30m above sea level to 730m. In about 5km.
Head on down back where you came from - now the fun begins. On your way down take the Paton Stream Dam turn off and you'll find the remnants of an old Kauri slip dam (see pics). This is a cool spot where you feel like the only person on earth among big old kauri square cut beams strewn across the stream valley (see pic). Follow your steps back to the main track turn left and head on down to the junction you passed earlier today with the track to the Collins Drive West entrance. Flick your headtorch on and check out this 600m tunnel shaft that was blasted and pick axed in vain in the hope of a quartz reef full of gold. Nice work fellas, you made a cool diversion for this run, bummer about the lack of gold though.

Head through the tunnel and at the other end take the track down to water race track and turn left to head back towards the carpark. Form here any of the tracks will eventually take you near the river which you can follow back to the carpark. If you turn right it just adds a km or two (the Battery Hills recreational area map is a handy way to explore round here - there's a few more shafts and tunnels about and some great swimming holes on the Puketui river to soak those legs in)

This trail includes the peak Hihi.

Paton Stream Dam is an old trip dam and quite a spectacular spot worth the short 1.5km return diversion. Large old pieces of the original dam are strewn across the valley
Collins Drive is a 600m long mine shaft right through the hillside, a few glowworms and cave wetas if you look closely - head torch is a must here as it is as black as the inside of a cow in the middle of this tunnel and strategically placed outcrops of sharp rock exist in just the right spot to split your head on if you forget your torch (from personal experience)
This track is the early part of the Surf2Firth Marathon that runs from Hikuai School to Thames every year - its a grueling beauty of an event

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.

No public transport. Parking for 6-7 cars at the trail head or if full in the campground or back on the road by the bridge you crossed to get here. Never had any safety issues here.

19 km

21 minutes




A few hundred metres from the start you cross a small bridge. The track is immediately right after the bridge (Main Ridge Track to Hihi and also one end of Water Race Track). Don't miss this turn off and then stay on every right hand option for the next 1km or so. There are a couple of left hand options that are way too flat for what you signed on for.

Very patchy.

Thermal leggings, Short-sleeved thermal top, 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, Cellphone, Map

Some at a tap in the campground - otherwise a few small streams near the tops but these may dry up in summer so bring what you need. You can rely on Paton Stream Dam stream usually if you need to.

Slippery bits on the Coromandel clay that sticks through here and there but generally fine after the first part of the climb where the track is a little more worn

I have recommended a EPIRB and extra gear as very few people walk this track above the first lookout and Collins Drive - so don't rely on someone else coming across you - if you do get in trouble you'll need to sort your own rescue.


Trail Legend


Cam Watson

has completed Hihi Grunter once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

I was scared senseless by the reviews and course description. Just about took a flare with me. Also a bit terrified by a sign that said, 'experienced trampers only'. I had a lovely run in the last 500m. It's a wonderful adventure. Scrambles and slides. Magnificent bush and views. The tunnel is just spooky enough to be exciting. Even saw some glow worms. Felt a bit bad telling my watch it was a trail run. It was a great tramp and I know I'm going to be sore tomorrow. What a blast.

Karen Koch

November 24, 2022

Very tough going and a real slog for much of the way.

Anthony Sowerby

October 19, 2020

Definately a good workout with a big climb. Some parts of the climb are pretty steep. I agree with the previous review that much of the track is technical running, and for most of us mere mortals mainly walking. Nice views from the ridge in the few clearings. The glow worms in Collins drive were neat.

Kirstine Collins

September 15, 2020

Great run, but more of a walk as it's so technical. going up to Hihi Trig Very rooty and gnarly! Great view from the top though, and always good to go through the tunnel back at Broken Hills!

Lisl Wollheim Jones

August 15, 2020

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