Holdsworth to KaitokeIntermediate - Experienced
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Back country - remote
Point to Point (one way)
Undulating, some big hills
Intermediate - Experienced
This is a popular 2-3 day tramping trip.
Follow the Gentle Annie Track as it climbs towards Mt Holdsworth before steeply dropping down the Totara Creek Track to Totara Flats Hut (NB: some Topo maps still have the Totara Creek Track dropping into Totara Creek about 1.5km from the turn off. Track now runs over point 575 and down the ridge with point 496).
From Totara Flats Hut pick up the trail behind the hut and follow the track down the Waiohine River. It occasionally heads uphill away from the river to rejoin later. The Cone Saddle Track is signposted but can be overgrown. Take caution at the saddle to take the right track down to Cone Hut. From Cone Hut the track is wide and easy to follow all the way to the Kaitoke road end. There are a few track deviations due to storm damage, but these are well marked.
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Features of interest
The track covers mostly typical Tararua beech and broadleaf forest the whole way. If you know your plants, look out for mistletoe around the Holdsworth track section. You dip into two major river valleys - the Waihohine and the Tauherenikau. Bird life can be abundant depending on the time of day and weather with whitehead, rifleman, bellbird, tui, woodpidgeon, shining and long tailed cuckoo relatively common. Kaka may also be seen (or heard).
There are several swing bridges along the route, and three huts (Totara Flats Hut, Cone Hut, and Tutuwai Hut). Cone Hut is the second oldest hut in the Tararuas (built in the 1940's) and one of the best surviving examples of a 'slab hut' in New Zealand.
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 40%
Moderate Single Track: 50%
Easy Single Track: 10%
Run can be done either direction. The GPS file here is starting at the end of Mount Holdsworth Road at the DOC Holdsworth Camping Area out of Masterton. Take Norfolk Rd off State Highway 2 just south of Masterton (there's a big timber mill on the corner). Alternatively you can start at the Kaitoke end (Upper Hutt). There is secure parking at Kiwi Ranch off Marchant Rd. Marchant Rd has a big Kiwi Ranch sign post from the Wellington side of the Rimutaka Hill Road (SH2). Follow the signs.
The Holdsworth Road end car park is reasonably safe and is a popular and busy spot. The Kaitoke end is less safe and for a small fee you can overnight park your car at Kiwi Ranch where a trail take you up to the main track.
Most of the track is a straight forward DOC track which is popular with trampers and therefore is well trodden, has plenty of orange triangles and sign posts. Just pay attention when heading over Cone Saddle in the Holdsworth-Kaitoke direction that the Cone Saddle Track can sometimes be slightly overgrown and easy to miss when crossing streams. Also at Cone Saddle the signage can be a bit ambiguous... make sure you're heading on the right track.
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.
Water is drinkable from all of the streams although it is recommended by DOC to treat the water (I would happily drink the water from any fast moving side stream I came across, of which there are plenty). The huts all have water tanks.
Parts of the track are always muddy no matter what time of the year. Plenty of water available and it is under tree cover most of the way.
This track is in the Tararuas which is notorious for foul weather. Be prepared for anything as even in the bush things can turn nasty even in the middle of summer. Check the weather for any significant rain (prior and expected) as this can cause any stream crossing to become impassable (of which there are many).
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