|The slopes, lush forests and clear mountain streams of Pirongia Forest Park are ideal for a wide range of recreational activities and pastimes.
Note: The walks and tracks described below may also be located using our map page.
Walk: Easy well formed tracks suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Clearly marked.
Track: Marked tramping tracks; require skill, experience and average fitness.
Things to Remember
- Take water with you, few of the tracks have streams nearby.
- Always travel in a group and leave trip details with someone reliable. Let them know when you return.
- Pets are not allowed in the park. Hunting dogs are only allowed with a permit.
- Always carry a change of clothes, waterproofs and extra food in case of an emergency.
- Take all rubbish home with you.
Mangakarä Nature Walk
1 hour return. Off Grey Road, Te Pahu. An enjoyable circuit through some of the least modified forest in the park. It is easy, but there are some short steep sections as you drop down to the stream.
3 hours return. Starting from the Kaniwhaniwha Reserve on Limeworks Loop Road, Te Pahu. A flat, easy track that follows the Kaniwhaniwha Stream then loops around a lovely area of forest.
Kaniwhaniwha Caves Walk
3 hours return. Also starting from the Kaniwhaniwha Reserve on Limeworks Loop Road Te Pahu.Ten minutes from the Nikau Walk loop, along the Bell Track, you can visit two small caves. It's a 20 metre walk through the main cave with one short "crawl" section. Torches are required. (See Bell Track on the map)
From the Corcoran Road, Te Pahu, carpark is an easy 5 minute walk to a good vantage point and picnic area on the northeastern slopes of Pirongia.
Ruapane Lookout (Pirongia)
Drive to the carpark at the end of Corcoran Road, Te Pahu. 1 - 1½ hours walk from the carpark to the lookout. It is a steady climb up the Tirohanga Track to the Ruapane Lookout, but the track is well formed for most of the way and is suitable for family groups with moderate fitness. In fine weather the view is superb.
Wharauroa Lookout (Pirongia)
Drive to the carpark at the end of Grey Road Te Pahu. 2-3 hours walk from the carpark to the lookout. The Mahaukura Track starts off at a fairly easy grade but it does get steeper. The last 30 metres involves scrambling over a rocky outcrop, but the reward is an excellent view across the Waikato.
Karioi Lookout / Te Toto Track
Follow Whaanga Road south along the coast from Raglan to the Te Toto carpark. It is a 2½ -3 hour walk from the Te Toto carpark to the lookout. This is a fairly strenuous climb but the views along the coast are wonderful. After crossing an open grassy area the track follows a rocky ridge covered in windshorn trees. At a rocky bluff the track veers around to the left then climbs steeply to a prominent ridge. Look for the signposted sidetrack down to the lookout about 10 minutes walk along this ridge. The summit is another 40 minutes on along the main track.
Several tracks lead to the summits of Pirongia and Karioi - the ones listed are the most popular. For information on the options pick up the Department of Conservation's Pirongia brochure and the appropriate topographical maps (NZMS 260 S15, R14 or R15).
Tirohanga Track (Pirongia)
Drive to the carpark at the end of Corcoran Road, Te Pahu. Walk 3-5 hours to the summit. Climb up to Ruapane Lookout then continue along the track past Tirohanga and on up to the summit. This upper section of track is steep and not so well formed until you get to the easy boardwalk just before the summit. Great views from the lookout tower on the summit.
Tahuanui Track (Pirongia)
3-5 hours to the summit, starting from the Kaniwhaniwha Stream Reserve on the Limeworks Loop Road, Te Pahu. This track branches off the Nikau Walk (see above) and climbs steadily up a tawa clothed ridge to intersect with the Tirohanga Track 5 minutes from the summit. It is the easiest climb of the summit tracks but is longer than Tirohanga.
Te Toto Track (Karioi)
Follow Whaanga Road south along the coast from Raglan to the Te Toto carpark. It is 3-4 hours walk to the summit. From the lookout turnoff it takes 40 minutes to reach the summit. This part of the track is not as strenuous as the initial climb but still has its ups and downs, with ladders on some of the rocky sections. Go to the helipad 100 metres past the radio tower for the best view.
A good way to make the most of a Pirongia summit trip is to return by a different route. While some circuits can be done in a day others require an overnight stay at the hut. Use the Department of Conservation's Pirongia brochure and the appropriate topographical maps (NZMS 260 S15, R14 or R15). Depending on your time frame, experience and level of fitness, there are several options.
Tirohanga - Mahaukura Circuit (8-11 hours total)
From Grey Road, Te Pahu, take RuapaneTrack which links the Nature Walk to Waites Road and Ruapane. Then follow Tirohanga Track past the trig to the summit. The hut is another 30 minutes past the summit. To return to Grey Road via the Mahaukura Track, take the signposted turnoff from the Tirohanga Track 5 minutes east of the summit. Note: the first part of the descent to Mahaukura (899 m) is a bit muddy and can be difficult.
Tirohanga - Tahuanui Crossing (8-10 hours total)
This crossing is the easiest of the three options but does involve organising shuttle transport between the starting and finishing points.
Tahuanui - Bell Track Circuit
This requires an overnight stay at the hut. The trip up the Tahuanui Track (see above) takes 3-4 hours but the descent along Bell Track takes 8-10 hours. The Bell Track can be muddy and difficult in places. From the hut, walk along the ridge, over the Cone (Pirongia's second highest peak) then drop down a long spur past the central campsite, through open clearings to Kaniwhaniwha Stream where there is a short side track up to the tall kahikatea. From here it is about a 1½ - 2 hour walk to the carpark.
Pahautea Hut is located about 30 minutes walk from the summit. It sleeps 6-8 and there are also formed camping sites around the hut. You need to be self sufficient with your own food and cooking equipment but the hut does have mattresses and a water supply.
Tickets are required for overnight stays at the hut. They cost $5.00 for adults; purchase them from any Department of Conservation office before your trip.
Hunting and Fishing
Recreational hunting is another popular activity in the Park. Hunting is encouraged as it helps control wild animal populations, allowing the regeneration of native plants and the reduction of competition and predation pressures on native animals. All hunting in the park is by permit only.
Fly fishing only for the brown trout in Kaniwhaniwha Stream. A fishing licence is required.
Picnicking Swimming and Camping
The Kaniwhaniwha Stream is a great place for swimming and has good picnic sites at the carpark and along the track. There is a campsite and toilet about 45 minutes walk up the Kaniwhaniwha Stream. Other picnic areas with good views are located at the end of Grey and Corcoran Roads (Pirongia) and at Te Toto Gorge (Karioi). Look for the interesting information kiosk and viewing tower at the Grey Road carpark.