Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Waiorongomai Valley Adventures

Te Aroha, Waikato

Submitted by Anna O'Brien

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 25 ?

Gnarl Factor: 38 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Undulating, some big hills

Native bush

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +20.3%

Average Downhill Gradient: -18.5%


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Estimated Times to Run







From the carpark head up the Low Level Pack track until you reach a sign pointing to Butler's Incline track on your left. Butler's Incline is a fabulous steep climb (34.6% gradient according to Strava) of approximately 300m up an old section of railway, guaranteed to warm your legs.

Catch your breath at the top, then continue up the mountain on the Te Aroha link track until you reach the junction (all well marked with wooden green signs/yellow writing) with the Waipapa track. This is where you can make the choice to head left and up to the summit of Te Aroha, or save that for another day, and return to your car at the Waiorongomai carpark.

Back down the Te Aroha link track you go, this time taking the High Level Pack track towards home. At the top of Butler's Incline, take the Cadman's track to your right and continue downhill. Watch carefully to your right about 1km along Cadman track for a sign for Buck Rock route. This is rugged and to be climbed rather than run, but has the most uplifting views over the Waikato and is well worth the detour. Come back from Buck Rock the way you came, and continue downhill along Cadman track. Keep taking the route to your right and you'll come right back to the carpark.

Waiorongomai is the site of NZ's oldest known railway, and includes sections of track, information signs and historical relics.

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Plenty of parking.

5 km

6 minutes




The wooden signs make navigation easy, but also remember that if you keep heading downhill all tracks will lead back to the carpark sooner or later. If you plan to head over to Te Aroha, it would be sensible to consult and take a map with you.


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

Take own drinking water

Good to run in all seasons. Take care on some sections of narrow track/stream crossings to avoid slipping.

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Trail Reviews

Nice run and pretty steep with great hill training on Butlers incline. Lots of runnable sections but I missed the Bucks Rock turn off because I was day dreaming and it's not that obvious.

Kelly Davenport

January 16, 2023

Great run and definitely tough going up Butlers incline. Highlight for me was Buck Rock and the accompanying views. Without the GPX not sure I would've found it as I knew straight away I'd run past it and had to double back and really look hard for the scramble "track" up to the top (albeit there was an orange ribbon which gave up the tracks location). Thanks for sharing Anna.

Anthony Sowerby

May 7, 2022

Absolutely loved this run! Thanks so much for posting Anna! Took us about 3.5 hours. Some of the signs are a little bit elusive as none of them say 'te aroha link track' like on the topo maps. ... At the top of Butlers Incline go straight ahead and follow the rail tracks towards the Queen May incline. Once you past through the tunnel it gets steeper and more technical and then you hit the Queen May incline (which in my opinion seems steeper than Butlers!). At the top of the Queen May go RIGHT and around the corner and you'll see the sign for the Waipapa track so keep climbing up towards the summit. You'll find an unmarked intersection and here you go LEFT and then it's easy to get to the summit. On the way down the High Level Pack track is to the right just after the tunnel. You pop out at Butlers incline and again take the track to the right which is Cadmans track all the way back down. We went to the summit and our total was 18kms.

Jayne Tankersley

January 26, 2020

Decided to tack this loop on in reverse with the Mt Te Aroha Tui Domain track loop from the Domain side. First time on these trails. Awesome! Interesting trails of historical sites with the old railway, tunnels and swing bridges. Lots of great climbing and very runnable sections. I did get a bit confused at a few junctions working out which track to take do this exact loop being my first time there and going in reverse.

Stephanie White

April 7, 2019

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