Wangapeka via Biggs TopsExperienced
Submitted by Mike McManaway
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Back country - remote
Point to Point (one way)
Native bushOpen ridges/tops
The west coast side of the track was in poor condition during recent years (slips) but hugely improved since 2020.
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Normally tramped East to West, however as a one day run its easier to get an early morning start from Karamea and finishing up on the eastern end means a progressively better maintained trail. Also more huts in case of any delay i.e. it goes without saying that you'll need gear to survive at least one night stranded out and of course take an EPB or satellite messenger.
From the Karamea side all the way to Stone Hut is classified as a DOC "route" i.e. suitable for people with high-level backcountry (remote area) skills and experience. Navigation and survival skills are required. Expect unbridged streams and river crossings. Whereas from Stone Hut to Rolling Junction the trail follows the Wangapeka River and is managed as a tramping track. This means the vegetation is regularly cut, and all major river and stream crossings are bridged.
If fast walking but little running takes say 14 hours then (very approximately) Western Car park to Belltown hut: 2 hrs, Belltown to Taipo hut: 3.5 hrs, Taipo to Trevor Hut: 2 hrs, Trevor to Wangapeka Saddle: 2.5 hrs, WPS to Kings Creek Hut: 2 hrs, Kings to Rolling Pin carpark 2 hrs. This GPX track log assumes you'll choose fine weather and want to take the "short cut" over Biggs Tops but of course in poor viz the low route from Trevor Carter hut to Wangapeka Saddle is the better option.
Features of interest
Gold was discovered in the Wangapeka valley in 1859 leading to the building of the route between 1862 and 1899 The Wangapeka traverses Kahurangi National Park, crosses two saddles, each of over 1,000 m, and travels through the beautiful beech-forested valleys of the Wangapeka, Karamea, Taipo and Little Wanganui rivers. Although the area attracted gold hunters for about 70 years, few fortunes were made. The first pastoral licence for sheep grazing in the Wangapeka valley was granted in 1851. By the late 1860s, sheep had reached the alpine grasslands of the Wangapeka tops. Grazing attempts were abandoned after 1940 because of fierce competition for feed from deer. The 1929 Murchison earthquake caused severe damage to sections of the Wangapeka Route. These sections were rebuilt during the 1930s depression including the Cecil Kings Hut.
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 30%
Moderate Single Track: 30%
Easy Single Track: 40%
From the West Coast road, turn off at Little Wanganui (80 km north of Westport, 18 km south of Karamea) and drive inland for 5 km on
Wangapeka Road to the car park, where the track begins.
Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece 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, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.
Pretty dry from Trevor Carter Hut up to Biggs Tops
Needs a long summer day and even then at least a 4am start.
Have a backup plan if Biggs Tops is clouded over.
Post run indulgence
Beforehand stay at the Last Resort in Karamea. Its a must do!
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