XTERRA Orongorongos Long CourseBeginner - Intermediate
Submitted by Conon Ford
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, some big hills
Native bushOpen ridges/tops
Beginner - Intermediate
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This is a great run to do if you have a reasonable level of fitness and are prepared for between 2 to 3 hours in the hills and bush of the Rimutaka Forest Park.
The route starts on the grass and heads south for about 100 metres, turning right into the lower carpark beside the toilets (make use of these before you go...) and along the sealed road through the upper carpark. From here, you enter the Orongorongo Track, heading north east for a nice, easy undulating 2 kilometres.
At the junction of this track and the 5 Mile Loop Track, turn left and follow the 5 Mile loop track south west for 3 kilometres back to the entrance road you would have driven along to get to the carpark. Once on the road, and being on the lookout for other vehicles, head towards the Main Entrance where you turned off from the Coast Road.
Once through the main entrance, turn left over the bridge and then left again on to the logging truck road. This is a 4WD track that is often in use by permitted vehicles, including 4WD Vehicles, Quad Bikes and logging trucks, so be aware. This is also the start of the 5 kilometre climb to the highest point of 448 metres. It's a Cat 2 climb with an average grade of 7.9%. But the views from the top make it all worth it.
From the top this heads downhill for a kilometre until you reach a turn off on your right that takes you up to a private property - enter a short bush track on the left just past the start of this private road. This track is quite narrow and can get slippery but it leads you to the downhill section of this course on a single track for the next kilometre, before another short uphill.
The next 2 kilometres are all downhill through a single bush track that can be quite steep and is full of tree fall and exposed roots. At the end of this, you meet up with the main Orongorongo track again and you turn left and head west for a further 2.5 kilometres along an undulating but fast formed walking track. This is a popular track for walkers, trampers and family groups so please be aware and respectful of their speed and space. When you arrive once again at the junction of the Orongorongo and 5 Mile loop tracks, keep left and follow the Orongorongo track for your final 2 kilometres back to your start point.
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Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 0%
Technical Single Track: 7.5%
Moderate Single Track: 30%
Easy Single Track: 35%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 20%
Gravel Road: 2.5%
Sealed Road: 5%
On the grassed area beside the main carpark for the Orongorongo and 5 Mile tracks.
Plenty of parking available. Public transport to this area is not available. Ensure your vehicle is securely locked and check you have your keys on you before closing doors and/or boot.
Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map.
Parts of this course do run beside the Catchpool Stream, but it is advisable to carry at least 1.5 litres of water per person.
During the summer months, this should be a great track to run. After a heavy rainfall of a day or two, the tracks can get quite slippery and some streams may need to be walked through up to knee height.
It is advisable to check all the conditions if undertaking this route during the winter months as snow can fall at this height along the ridge line. It would be best to avoid this route as a run during this time. Save it for a tramp when you would have more suitable equipment, clothing and footwear.
Make sure you are fully prepared for the elements as conditions on top of the ridge line can change quickly and get quite cold, depending on the season. I would certainly recommend doing this with at least one other runner for safety reasons. The downhills on the second half of this course are full of tree routes and short, steep turns and a rolled ankle (or worse) on your own would not be too comfortable. There is no cell phone coverage in this area. Take water. Pack out what you pack in. Enjoy.
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