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Akatawara Saddle to Otaki Forks , Wellington

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Akatawara Saddle to Otaki Forks Intermediate

Submitted by Emily Shrosbree

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Trail Information







Front country - easily accessible

Point to Point (one way)

Undulating, some big hills

Native bush


4:30 (Slow)
3:15 (Moderate)
2:00 (Fast)



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From the Akatawara Saddle, head up the Waiotauru Road (a steep 4WD track). This winds upwards for a while and can be very steep in places. As it flattens out you'll pass Point 764, 772 and 882 (Kakanui).

After about 10km you'll reach Maymorn Junction by which point you'll have already started descending. Take care to take identify the right path here. You want the 4WD track that heads roughly north, and downhill. At this junction there are two tramping tracks, one which goes to Kapakapanui Hut and one to Renata Hut. You don't want either of these.

For the next 8-9kms you'll be working your way gently down to Waiotauru Hut, which is 4WD track all the way, although in some sections it is very rough and steep. At one point there are a couple of abandoned vehicles which didn't make it. Waiotauru Hut isn't the nicest spot, so I wouldn't recommend planning to stop here. Just beyond the hut cross the Southern Waiotauru River at the obvious fording point and follow the 4WD track to the left.

Keep following the 4WD track roughly alongside the river. After a kilometre or so you'll need to drop down to the left to cross an incoming side stream (you'll know very soon if you've missed this point as the track comes to a river cliff that you will not want to try descending!). A few metres up the side stream you'll pick up some orange triangles which mark the track off to the left. Follow this up a short way, then continue along it as it sidles it's way towards the swing bridge at Waiotauru Forks.

Just before the bridge, there's some open grass, keep left to find the track that zig zags down to the bridge itself. Once over the bridge just follow the track, marked with orange triangles, all the way out to Otaki Forks. It's a good track although sometimes a little rough underfoot. There are a couple of slips to cross along the way, so take care to pick a path across these. Arrange for somebody to pick you up from the very end of the road at Otaki Forks (not the Warden's House carpark).

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Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 0%

Technical Single Track: 20%

Moderate Single Track: 20%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 60%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

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

Big Circuit Run

Big Circuit Run

Length: 51.60km

Goblins Gander

Goblins Gander

Length: 37.00km


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Akatarawa Road saddle

    There's a parking area at the saddle on the Akatawara Road. Not sure of the safety of leaving a car here, so would advise getting dropped off if you can.

    12 km

    19 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Take particular care at Maymorn Junction and after fording the river just after Waiotauru Hut.


    Thermal leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.

    Water can be sourced from the Waiotauru or Otaki rivers.

    Watch the weather as river crossings are involved.
    Also, slips may have changed after heavy rain.

    Given there are a couple of river crossings, this is not a run to do in heavy rain unless you want to climb back up to the Akatawara Saddle.
    There can be the odd vehicle on the 4WD sections of the route.
    There are a couple of slips on the last section alongside the Otaki River. Take care crossing these.

  • Post run indulgence

    The Perching Parrot

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