Last Updated: 20th May 2024


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Aro Valley - Red Rocks Thigh Buster

Wellington, Wellington

Submitted by Corin Haines

Last Updated: 20th May 2024


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 33 ?

Gnarl Factor: 28 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Urban fringe


Undulating, some big hills

Dog Friendly

Native bush

Plantation/exotic forest

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Gravel Road

Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +9.4%

Average Downhill Gradient: -8.6%


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Estimated Times to Run







Pretty easy clear track the whole way. Climb from Polhill following the signs to the Wind Turbine, then onto the Barking Emu track just below the Turbine. Follow barking Emu until it meets the top of the Tip Track and carry on along the ridge following the signs to above Red Rocks.

Continue on the track (do not take the descent to Red Rocks) and follow it down into a the valley before turning left and climbing up sharply to loop back towards the Hawkins Radar Dome on the Te Kopahou track. It gets very steep here and is a demanding climb. Once at the top of the climb, you have some nice easy gravel road to get you to the Dome before heading back down to join the top of the Tip Track again an retrace your steps along Barking Emu and back down.

This trail includes the peaks Hawkins Hill and Te Kopahou.

Hawkins Hill Radar Dome

Aro Park in Aro Street.

Easy street parking most of the time. Good street lighting.

2 km

8 minutes




Generally good.

Lightweight fleece top, Windproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map

Once on the track NIL.

The middle part of this trail is on the very exposed Southern coast. This means on a hot still day it is very hot with no shelter and on a day with strong weather from the South you are very exposed to the elements. Dress to the conditions and have a protective layer.

Aro Cafe
Aro Street
Great coffee and food.

Trail Legend

Tony Sharpe

Tony Sharpe

has completed Aro Valley - Red Rocks Thigh Buster once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Great run - definitely gnarly with steep ups and downs. Felt very remote at the 10 km mark with beautiful view over the Cook Strait over to the South Island. I spotted a wild deer on the climb up to Te Kopahou. Quickly made the side trip to the trig - built sturdy to withstand the wind. Didn't muck around from Te Kopahou to the top of the Tip Track as the wind was getting up and gusts were starting to push me around. Section from Aro Valley to Tip Track and vice versa are well sheltered but definitely check the weather before attempting this route and take a jacket/warm gear just in case.

David Hosking

June 5, 2023

Character building climb in the middle and amazing tracks either side. I ran from Aro Valley and up the Turbine track - and managed to find an extra 3km from somewhere! - but otherwise it’s an easy trail to follow. Feels a million miles away once you are on the South Coast.

Karen Spencer

May 29, 2021

Ran this on a nice clear evening. Lots of stars but so many possums. Tough run, especially the uphill to Hawkins Dome. A good testing run!

Jeremy Wheeler

October 9, 2020

Really loved this run today. Soaring to the highest peaks in Wellington with spectacular panoramic views, and hardly saw a soul, other than a cheeky kaka. I chose to head up to the turbine via Transient rather than the road, to avoid too much tarmac. Felt great to finally get this one bagged.

Joe Benbow

August 13, 2020

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Overlapping Trails

These overlap with this trail 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 activity for each.

Barking Mad on Barking Emu

Barking Mad on Barking Emu

Length: 8.2km

Level: Beginner

Polhill to Turbine loop

Polhill to Turbine loop

Length: 10.5km

Level: Beginner - Intermediate

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