Last Updated: 26th Dec 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

Mt Matthews

Last Updated: 26th Dec 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 49 ?

Gnarl Factor: 63 ?








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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

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +13.2%

Average Downhill Gradient: -13.2%


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Estimated Times to Run







(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.

This trail includes the peak Mount Matthews.

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 (

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.

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

23 km

30 minutes




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.

Very patchy.

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.

Trail Legend


Richard Tumaliuan

has completed Mt Matthews once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Epic day out - perfect weather for it and got out early so we were almost at the top before the heat really started to build. Epic views for sure

Bradley Houghton

January 2, 2022

I really enjoyed this run. Some easy, undulating trails through the bush to start with, river crossings aplenty, and then a gnarly climb through some epic bush to arrive at ....... almost no views. Well to be fair, I did get one view of Wellington harbour and another of the south coast but nothing at the summit itself. Didn't matter though, the bush was spectacular, and I just loved the few hours spent in the solitude and surroundings. Food for the soul.

Joe Benbow

March 10, 2021

Was a cold, wet day with zero visibilty when I did it but lots of fun regardless. The climb up Mt Matthews is STEEP but takes in some beautiful forest. If confident with river crossings I recommend running the riverbed section, but only if the river isn't running high. A special place, enjoy!

Malcolm Law

September 16, 2019

Mt Mathews summit itself is not spectacular, but the short side trip to South Saddle is. The first part of the main climb is steep. The varied terrain means there is never a boring moment.

J Justin Bangma

April 1, 2018

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