Mt MatthewsIntermediate - Experienced
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Front country - easily accessible
Out and Back
Intermediate - Experienced
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This route is part of the Rab Skyline Mountain Collection
(Following mostly from the DOC website with some extra details)
NB: If it's been raining, the Orongorongo River can become quite high. It can also drop quickly after rain. If you don't have much experience crossing big rivers, keep this run for a sunny day (the views are better too). If the water is clear it's most likely safe to cross, but if it's murky, use a lot of caution.
Follow the gentle gradient of the Orongorongo Track for about 5 km before descending to an arched bridge over the Turere Stream to the Orongorongo River. Either run up the river bed or if running on river stones doesn't sound appealing, take the Big Bend Track for another 4 km. At the end of Big Bend Track you get spat out onto the river. Cross over and keep an eye out for the Matthews Stream about 100m further up on the true left of the river (on your right), marked with a large orange triangle. A poled route criss-crosses the stream for about 600 metres leading to the start of the Mt Matthews Track on the true left.
The track climbs steeply for 4km, passing the South Saddle/Mukamuka Track and emerging onto a grassy plateau with spectacular views of Wellington Harbour and the lower Wainuiomata Valley. Take note of this point as you emerge onto the grassy plateau for your return as it's poorly marked and you can easily miss it on the way back. The track becomes quite a bit rougher from here on until the summit which is marked with a sign to the North Saddle. The summit is clad with forest, but you can catch glimpses of Palliser Bay, and the Wairarapa Plains through gaps in the trees.
Features of interest
Mt Matthews is the tallest peak in the Rimutaka Ranges, the nearest to Wellington, and is pretty obvious for those that gaze across the harbour to the hills and mountains that dominate the eastern horizon.
The Forest Park is lush with conifer-broadleaf forest and beech forest higher up with active pest management from both government agencies and a strong volunteer network (you'll see plenty of traps of all descriptions along the route). Kiwi are in the area so there is a strict dogs on leashes ONLY policy in the park. Better to leave the dog at home. Large rimu, miro, etc are everywhere and depending on the weather you'll see and hear plenty of bird life.
The Orongorongo Valley has a huge number of huts, both private and public. The DOC huts can be fully booked out making them popular with families and groups. See the DOC Rimutaka Forest Park website for more details (http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/wellington-kapiti/places/rimutaka-forest-park/).
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 5%
Technical Single Track: 50%
Moderate Single Track: 20%
Easy Single Track: 25%
The following trails overlap with this run 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 Strava activity for each
The entrance to the Rimutaka Forest Park via the Catchpool Valley is on the Coast Road, 12 km south of Wainuiomata in the Hutt Valley.
Head to Wainuiomata and follow Wainuiomata Rd to the end. At the roundabout follow Main Rd which will eventually become Coast Rd. Large signs for the Rimutaka Forest Park are scattered along the route. Once you turn in to the Catchpool Valley, follow the road until the end for the main car park.
The entrance gate to Catchpool Valley is open summer 6 am-8 pm; winter 6 am-6 pm.
Plenty of parking at the end of the road where the track starts, and even camping. Toilets and safe drinking water available here
Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the Capra app on your phone. View on Capra .
Whilst most of the route is easy to navigate and you simply follow well marked tracks, the turn off up Matthews Stream can easily be missed if you're not paying attention. Heading up Matthews Stream is a route only and you need to follow the poles with the orange triangles. Keep looking out for the next one and you won't go wrong.
Waterproof leggings, 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 bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.
Clean water available in the main car park. As Giardia is most likely in the park, it's best to carry some purification tablets for any additional top up's along the way. Last point to fill up before the big climb up Mt Matthews is at the sign post of the start of the track up Mt Matthews up the Matthews Stream.
Fine all year around. Will be colder as you climb up Mt Matthews than in the valley no matter what the season so make sure to take warmer layers even if it's scorching in the valley. Will have brief patches of snow on top during winter.
Be aware of the Orongorongo River. If it's raining, probably best to stay at home or do another run in the park.
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See other runs nearby:
Eastbourne Ridge Loop
XTERRA Orongorongos Long Course
Belmont Regional Park - Oakleigh to Hill
Wainui Trail Park
Mt Matthews - Mukamuka Loop
Where in the Whakanui?
Te Whiti Firebreak Calf Burn
Puke Ariki Traverse
Cannon Point Trig via Zig Zag
Te Whiti Riser
Belmont Tadpole Loop
Lighthouses and Lakes
Pareraho to Cornish
Baring It All
Wainuiomata Recreation Area
Fairy House Loop
Dry Creek Loop
Riversdale Beach Southern Reserve
Waddington Loop of Wander
Mini Makara Mission
Sugarloaf and Waterfalls Loop
Loop the Hutt Valley