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Shorts and Knights tracks, Ruahine Forest Park

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These two tracks combine to lead trampers on a beautiful full-day hike up and along the Ngamoko Range. It’s a challenging walk offering some of the best views of the Ruahine Range.

The track begins over farmland before heading under the tree cover on the Deerford Loop Track. After about 10 minutes, the unbridged Makiekie Creek is crossed. Care should be taken here after rain as the creek can flow swiftly. This section can get boggy in winter, but it’s a well-marked and fairly well-maintained track.

Shortly after the creek, a fork is reached. Turn south (right) to take the Deerford Loop to Shorts Track or continue straight ahead following the creek to the Knights Track. 

Taking the right-branching fork to complete the loop in an anti-clockwise direction, the track is easy going until it turns towards the east and begins the steep 300m climb to the junction with the Shorts Track. A clearing appears at about 850m altitude and is a nice spot for a break. 

There’s still around 130m of altitude to join Shorts Track over the steepest section. A sign at the start of Shorts Tracks suggests a 2-3hr journey to the Ngamoko Range tops, but in winter conditions, with snow on the ground, expect this to take up to 4hr. 

Shorts Track climbs a narrow spur for 2km out of the bush and into the tussock. It’s a steep climb gaining 500m but offers stunning views over the countryside.

At Pt1380 on the Ngamoko Range, take time to enjoy the fabulous views of Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu, the Central Plateau and Taranaki Mounga. It is serene and breathtakingly beautiful. From here, head north along the range to Toka (1519m). The peak can be seen for the duration of the journey, so there should be no navigational issues unless visibility is limited.   

From Toka, it’s all pretty much downhill on Knights Track, which loses 760m in a 2.8km dash back to Makiekie Creek. Hiking poles will come in handy on the slippery trail. 

Once Makiekie Creek is reached, the end is near. Rejoin the Deerford Loop track and follow this back to the car park. 

Although it is possible to walk this track in winter, the high altitude and open tops mean that snow is plentiful and trampers should take necessary equipment and ensure a fine all-day forecast. When the sun is shining, this loop boasts some of the best views in the Ruahine Range.


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