Access: End of Hot Springs Road & Wharawhara Road on Bay of Plenty side or along Wairakau Road on the Waikato side.
DOC Duration: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Forest Family: 3 hours and 40 minutes (I’d predict an extra 30-60 with kids – mine have yet to venture up here with me). I met one family (Dad + two boys – 4 and 6) who did it in 3.5 hours 👍 so definitely doable. 2 Hours to the North/South track along the Tuahu Track and ~1.5 hours Northwards along the North/South track to the hut.
Track Grade: DOC states Advanced – this will be due to a stream crossing along the Tuahu track (on the eastern side) and there is a substantial stream crossing at the beginning of the track beginning at Wharawhara Road end – so be wary after rain.
Highlights/Features: Nice gentle incline from Hot Springs road end to the north/south track, and there is a short detour to a couple of magnificent big old kauri trees along the way. Stunning views over the Bay of Plenty and Waikato along the North South track or a magic mystical journey when clouded over. From Wharawhara road end there is a decent stream crossing to begin with and then it’s straight up the ranges to the hut (steep in places).
Notes: There is a fireplace in the hut, a couple of camping spots for tents, a long-drop toilet and a water tank (boiling advisable and could be low during summer months). There are no toilets at the carparks. 12 bunk hut is not bookable so be prepaid to squeeze in if necessary, take roll mats and leave early to try get a spot. There are at times steep drop offs into valleys on the sides of the track so keep children informed and insight.