Eastern Main RangeExperienced
Submitted by Seanoa Isaac
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A massive back country run over what would be a 2-3 day tramp. Covering approx. 8km of the Main Range & bags 3 huts (Neill Forks, Maungahuka & Kime) this route offers outstanding views of the South Island, Mt. Taranaki & Ruapehu and everything in between on a clear day.
Route direction given anti clockwise with average splits and approx. distances:
Start Waiohine road end, head over swing bridge, turn left, head 100m, the track veers right sharply and steeply, follow for 3.7km to 1st sign, stay right towards Cone Saddle turn off 900m.
This part can be tricky especially if dark.
Go directly past the Cone Saddle sign (points right) for 30m and there will be another sign putting left to Cone Hut. Just before you reach this sign stop and look up, almost directly ahead you will see a trail blazer taking you up towards Cone Ridge.
Head up 2.5km to next sign at Cone
Stay right run down Cone Ridge 3km through mossy forest, pay attention as the sign to Neill Forks Hut is in need of repair and may have fallen over and blazers can be hard to spot with morning light behind them.
Head left and steeply down 2 km to hut.
Over bridge and straight up past Concertina Knob to next sign 4km (1050m vert), turn right to Maungahuka Hut 300m for water.
Back track to sign and continue past towards Kime Hut 8km (1km to the Steel Ladder).
Head to Mt. Hector 2km, identify Neill Ridge (runs roughly East to West) you are going to follow the ridge (very faint trail generally to South side and almost entirely unmarked until bush line) 3km to bush line. Do not recommend attempting in average to poor weather, take great care. There are some scrambles over and around tricky little knobs.
From the last small table top look for a big blazer into bush line if clear weather otherwise you may have to walk along bush edge to acquire.
Bush bash & scale a few short sharp vertical knobs and duck under mossy goblin first for 3km to Neill Saddle
Stay sharp looking for sporadic blazers and trail for 2.2km to Cone junction.
Head right to Waiohine road end (via Cone Saddle junctions) for glory.
This is a huge 1 dayer do not under estimate it or the Tararua's. Good luck
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Features of interest
Mt. Hector & the Tararua Peaks with the Steel Ladder
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 30%
Technical Single Track: 35%
Moderate Single Track: 25%
Easy Single Track: 10%
The swing bridge at Waiohine campsite/ road end approx. 20 min drive from Greytown or Carterton, 1hr north of Wellington.
Free parking at the campsite. The site is well frequented during Spring to Autumn. There are no public transport options.
Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, 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 bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Gaiters.
Water usually available at the huts-can be affected by very cold weather (pipes freezing) or long dry spells. There are a few tarns along the tops treat and/ or filter the water. Almost no streams to be had as you are predominantly on ridges
Be prepared for four seasons in one day, this is a mountain range.
Extreme weather changes quickly. No easy bail out options, be self fully self supported
Post run indulgence
The White Swan Hotel and Bar
Great food & bevvy selection
Jack and Jill's Cafe
Fantastic coffee. Also great food