Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Karapoti Challenge

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Grunt Factor: 28

Gnarl Factor: 13





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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote


Undulating, some big hills

Dog Friendly

Native bush

Plantation/exotic forest


Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +8.9%

Average Downhill Gradient: -9.0%


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Estimated Times to Run







The route follows the historic Karapoti 20K Challenge course (less the start/finish road section).

Note that Airstrip Road and Woolshed Road are closed except to authorised vehicles between 4am and 5pm Monday to Friday, so this is a weekend option only.

Starting at the car park, follow the trail along Karapoti Gorge, crossing the river near the start to keep you on the main wider track (rather than the smaller track that heads up to the right). After around 4.3k, you'll reach McGhies bridge. Cross the bridge and the locked gate and start heading uphill.

At around 6.2k, you'll reach a signed T-junction. Turn left onto Valley View Road and continue uphill.

Keep right at the 8k mark where there is a junction with Lindsays Road.

At 9.4k, keep right again on Airstrip Road, then turn right onto Woolshed Road (at around 10k). This will take you back to the first T-junction where you head back downhill to McGhies bridge and the way you came.

Plenty of parking available but as it's a remote and quiet trailhead, don't leave valuables in plain sight

16 km

20 minutes




Make sure you know which turn to take at each junction on the loop section (Airstrip, then Woolshed). A wrong turn can take you miles off course.


Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Map.

The river and tributaries are the only water sources. Best to take your own but these sources could be used if you really needed.

The Akatarawas get a lot of rainfall. Slips are common. Expect to get wet feet. The highest points on this run are quite exposed to the wind too.

Trail Legend

Richele McKenzie

Richele McKenzie

has completed Karapoti Challenge once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

I went after a lot of rain- some fun puddle running down the bottom part of the track beside the river and some little waterfalls. Track was still really good under foot, despite the volume of water. No spectacular view from the top due to the tall pine trees, but overall I really enjoyed it.

Aimee Francois

July 18, 2021

This trail gets you up into the Akatarawa Forest on well marked trails, mainly logging tracks. The river hurtles along beside you at the start/end and then have a steady climb up to the ridge. Very doable. Watch out for motorbikes (you hear them before you see them!).

Karen Spencer

November 22, 2020

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