Kahurangi National Park,
Wangapeka is one of the rivers located in Kahurangi National Park. The Wangapeka Track is generally walked from its eastern end at Rolling Junction Shelter, which is on the Wangapeka River Road. Starting from the eastern side makes the tramp a bit more gradual in terms of climbing, but some people walk the Heaphy Track and then turn around and walk the Wangapeka back towards Nelson.
Distance: 53 km
Approximate Time: 4 to 6 days
Along the Wangapeka Track there are 6 huts run by the DOC along with 2 shelters. In addition, Cecil King's Hut is a historically significant private abode once occupied by a gold-miner. None of the huts on the Wangapeka have gas, so be prepared with your own cooker.
Transport Nelson to Rolling River Junction
Approximate time: 1 hr 40 min with Trek Express
Rolling Junction Shelter to Kings Creek Hut
Approximate time: 3.5 hours
This first section is a fairly easy tramp through rolling terrain with a well-defined track which is benched and boardwalked through many of the soggier parts. Fishing is best in the early section of the track (Try a size 14 Dad's favourite dry fly or a small pheasant tail nymph!)
Kings Creek Hut has heating facilities as well as 20 bunk spaces. About half a kilometre further along you can find the historic
Cecil King's Hut, with only four bunks it is far more intimate than the relatively massive Kings Creek Hut. It is also equipped with a fireplace for heating and lots of mice to keep you company. Charming place to stay the night!
Kings Creek Hut to Stone Hut
Approximate time: 2.5 hours
The track climbs gently in this section, making for moderately easy going. The track is benched and meanders through native bush.
Stone Hut is a newer hut and is located on a nice flat nest to the junction of Stone Creek and the Wangapeka River. Its smaller, with 10 bunks, and serviced with heating facilities. Camping space is abundant in the flat around the hut.
Stone Hut to Helicopter Flat Hut
Approximate time: 4 hours
The climb up to the Wangapeka Saddle will lead you through a slip from the 1929 Murchison earthquake, where you can see the remnants of trees that died surrounded by scree. The sign marking the high point of the Saddle is the only indication you will have of being at the top, as the view is obscured by bush.
The descent is gradual, excepting a small, scrambling detour around a rather large slip. The track becomes more of a challeange as it follows close to the river. Exercise caution in heavy rain conditions. The Karamea River, which (along with several other smaller streams) must be forded, gets up to knee-depth in normal conditions, so prepare to get wet feet before reaching your destination!
Helicopter Flat Hut has 10 bunk spaces and heating.
Helicopter Flat Hut to Taipo Hut
Approximate time: 3.5 hours
The track on this stretch can get messy in the best of times, but in very wet conditions one literally must scramble over several small slips, hanging onto roots and provided wires for support. The track then meets up with the Taipo River, which will lead you to Taipo Hut.
Taipo Hut is set away from the river and has ample room for campers around it. Inside you will find heating and 16 bunk spaces.
Taipo Hut to Bell Town Hut
Approximate time: 5 to 6 hours
The journey up to Little Wanganui Saddle is steep, but interesting. After crossing the saddle you will probably notice the difference in how the track is maintained, pole-marked and not well-defined. It is rougher going from here on out. The descent to Bell Town Hut is not an easy one, but the wild scenery is beautiful.
Bell Town Hut provides trampers with 10 bunk spaces and heating facilities.
Bell Town Hut to Wangapeka Road
Approximate time: 3.5 hours/5 hours wet weather track
The track leading out to Little Wanganui Road is relatively easy in good conditions, aside from two relatively deep fordings of the Little Wanganui River. In wet weather, the high water track is a bit more difficult and could add two hours to your journey time. Following the old road makes walking this part of the track quite leisurely. If you want to avoid fording the river, take the high water route.
Wangapeka Road Shelter to Nelson
Approximate time: 4.75 hours
Important! Please note below crossing the Dart River Ford.
The Dart river ford (east side) is notorious for flooding during heavy rain. A swing bridge across the river eight kilometers (roughly two hours or less) from the track has been washed away and has not been replaced. When ending the track and there is no sign of a vehicle waiting, you have to make a judgement call as to whether to walk to the Dart Ford. The indicators to look for are water lying on the ground and not draining away and continued heavy rain after a steady overnight rainfall, then you can assume that access by vehicle or by foot it is probably not possible. There is a phone at the shelter a half kilometer from Rolling River Junction hut/shelter. You can access me on the freephone number (0800 128 735, or 5402042) that may be directed to my mobile whilst driving or the office, but bear in mind that cell phone coverage is minimal. If I think the ford is flooded I will wait for instructions from the waiting trampers.
Weather Update Weather forecast for Nelson next 10 days.
What to take Ideas on what to pack for the tramp (My packing list!)
Track update by DOC.
Existing & Budget trips If you want to combine on an existing trip (for singles and couples).
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