Last Updated: 22nd Apr 2024


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Pirongia Loop of Awesomeness

Te Awamutu, Waikato

Submitted by Vicki Woolley

Last Updated: 22nd Apr 2024


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Grunt Factor: 41 ?

Gnarl Factor: 80 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Native bush

Open ridges/tops


Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +16.5%

Average Downhill Gradient: -16.1%


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Estimated Times to Run







From Grey Road carpark, head north along the Mangakara Nature Walk. Don't be in any great rush - take time to look at the information posts along this self-guided trail - your legs will appreciate a slow warmup. At the junction, stay left and follow the signs directing you to Ruapane Link Track. Follow Ruapane Track until it joins Tirohanga Track: stay left at the fork and continue heading up the ridge. The track begins to climb steeply and as the terrain changes from soft soil to broken rock, look for large limestone 'bombs' partly covered in moss and lichen as you climb. A rocky slab leads you up to Ruapane Trig where there are great views to be had although it is often too windy to loiter long. Continue on Tirohanga Track past the trig: the footing becomes increasingly technical, alternating between rooty muddy sections and rocky exposed ridge sections. Dropping down the side of Tirohanga Bluff, a sheer rock wall adorned with rata vines provides some welcome respite from the wind. Continue climbing to the lookout at Pirongia summit - shortly before the lookout note Mahaukura Track heading off to your left: this is your way down.

Make sure you are rested, refuelled and clear-headed before heading back the way you came on Tirohanga then quickly branching right onto Mahaukura Track. This track is a beast: heavily technical (slippery rocks, roots, mud) and with a series of seemingly endless ascents and descents as you undulate down the ridgeline with far less grace and ease than the wild goats who mock you from the sheer-sided peaks. Nearing the carpark the gradient becomes more gradual; the trail softens into bush again and a screamingly good descent should make you completely forget the swearwords you have may have uttered during the previous hour.

This trail includes the peaks Pirongia, Mahaukura and Ruapane.

Pirongia is an ancient volcano and has wonderfully interesting exposed lava outcrops such as Tirohanga Bluff. Good weather days deliver fabulous views over the Waikato Basin to Central North Island volcanic plateau and along the West Coast. Some of the best examples of NZ native bush: look for the 700-year-old pahautea trees near the hut, and rare Dactylanthus taylorii - NZ's only completely parasitic flowering plant.

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 plenty of parking at the Grey Road carpark (road end), toilets and a sheltered information block.

21 km

18 minutes




Navigation is easy but BEWARE: Pirongia has notoriously localised (and frequently hostile) weather that can impair visibility. Be prepared with good quality wet-weather gear; hat, gloves beanie and extra thermal layers in a waterproof bag.


Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map

Carry own water

Notoriously muddy and slippery (rocks, roots) in the wet: exposed ridge sections with steep drop-offs where visibility can be impaired in wet weather and wind-affected.

Steep drop-offs.

Wild Thyme Cafe
21 Thompson Road, Te Awamutu
Fast service and good, hot coffee.

Iguana Street Bar

Trail Legend

Angela Hewlett

Angela Hewlett

has completed Pirongia Loop of Awesomeness twice in the last year.

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Fastest Known Times (FKTs)

Make sure to bag Pirongia summit for a valid FKT time!

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Trail Reviews

The daily training ground comes every two weeks on average from November to May. The best months are February and March, when the mud is nearly dry and your feet won’t be covered in wet mud. Other seasons are really bad. But my completion time was locked at about 4 hours. Maybe my ability is too poor

Changhai Zhou

February 14

A pretty hard out track! Usually when I’m told something is technical it often isn’t. But this definitely is! I underestimated it from the description, there’s lots of roots and mud and climbing and lowering yourself precariously down into the abyss! But it’s bloody awesome! Just don’t expect to do too much running and be aware it’ll probably be the longest it ever takes you to do 15km 😂 but totally worth it. Some incredible views and a good hard workout. And you’re treated in the last few kms with some pretty runnable track to finish off a gnarly day out!

Lauren Mai Anderson

September 12, 2021

Great track but for beginners (3 months trail running) took 7 1/2 hours. I'm in awe of those who have done this faster. Views are amazing.

Karen Koch

March 9, 2021

Definitely a loop of Awesomeness, this was my second time on this track which I found easy to navigate. Love the climbing and technical aspects of it, I will definitely be doing it again as it 20 minutes from home. Highly Recommended.

Mark Runciman

January 10, 2021

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