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Heartland views from the Tararua Tops

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September 2020 Issue

Tarn Ridge Hut, Tararua Forest Park

One of the greatest things about the Tararua Range is not only its accessibility but the fact that this rugged tract of mountains can provide the sense that you are deep in the hills after only a few hours of walking.

From the tussock-covered ridgeline just above Tarn Ridge Hut, the view west is over the layered bush-covered ridges of Carkeek, Main Range and Oriwa towards the Kapiti Coast and the Tasman Sea. Turn in the other direction and your view is hemmed in by the big Tararua peaks of Mitre, Girdlestone and Brockett. Below, leatherwood-covered spurs fall steeply into the headwaters of the Waingawa River. The ridge is a fantastic spot to stand at sunset on a clear day.

Tarn Ridge Hut is a well known overnight spot on the Northern Crossing of the range and provides essential shelter for the long exposed tops crossing from Arete to Mt Holdsworth.

It’s also achievable in a weekend from the east via Waingawa Valley (Barra Track) and Mitre Flat, with the bonus of bagging the Tararua’s highest mountain, Pukeamoamo/Mitre (1571m) en route – but you’ll want good legs and lungs for the steady 1200m ascent from the flats. For a slightly longer and more difficult trip, consider combining the informal route on Table Ridge and Cow Creek Hut to make a loop.

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Total Ascent
2-3 days return
Tarn Ridge Hut ($5,16 bunks)
Upper Waingawa Road end via the Barra Track and Mitre Peak Track