Ōrongorongo Track to Raukawa Hut (Overnight Tramp) - Remutaka Forest Park
Updated: May 10
Location: 1039 Coast Road, Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt. Follow the Coast Road for 10km until you reach Remutaka Forest Park (there is a big sign on your left), continue down the Catchpool Valley Road until you reach the car park and information area at the end. You will lose cellphone reception before you reach Catchpool valley.
We’d been itching to get back into some overnight tramping but it’s always a coin toss as to how our little guy (Marlow, 17 months) will sleep at night so we had some trepidation. A few months ago I saw some availability at Raukawa Hut in the Ōrongorongos – a sole occupancy hut – and thought what’s the worst that can happen? He doesn’t sleep? We would be no worse off than at home and we wouldn’t have the stress of worrying that we were disturbing other trampers.
We set off on a glorious morning at around 10am leaving Catchpool Valley in the Remutaka Forest Park. The track is well formed with a gentle gradient. I found it relatively easy to keep a good pace, even with a 10kg wriggly worm on my back! There are some quite sharp drop offs at points so I wouldn’t recommend a toddler walk this unless you were confident that they could stay away from the edge.
The aptly titled ‘midway bridge’ is where we stopped for a morning tea snack. There is some bench seating and several people crossed providing lots of opportunities for our toddler to wave and soak up praise from passers-by.
The 5.2km track took us about 2.5 hours until we reached the bridge with the picnic/swimming area where we would make a slight detour to our hut. We were a little bit caught out by the ‘true left’ instructions (unbeknownst to us at the time, ‘true right' or 'true left' refers to the side of the river when you are facing downstream). In tired mum terms – turn right when you get to the end of the bridge! There is one small river crossing where our feet got a little wet, the water only comes up to an adult’s ankles though.
The hut was the star of this wee adventure –it is fully set up with gas cookers and all the cutlery, crockery, pots and pans you could imagine. It even had a plunger! It has an indoor flushing toilet and a shower (we braved cold ones, though there is a fire with a wetback). It sleeps 14 so is ideal for a couple of families – there is a separate sleeping room from the main kitchen/eating area.
The deck had a lovely view of trees and the river. The river is about two minutes walk from the hut. Sadly the algae is pretty bad in the river at the moment (January) so we were not able to swim. There is a rope swing, lots of tree stumps that can be used for all sorts of play and we even were able to spot some kereru having their dinner. There is a nice big deck where we had dinner, one person needed to always have a sharp eye on the little guy as he kept trying to fly off the edge! It didn’t get dark until around 9.30pm but once it did there was an amazing star display you just don’t see in the suburbs and we were lulled to sleep by the song of the ruru.
We woke bright and early the next morning (the little man had a great sleep!) to make the return journey back and were home in time for a lunchtime nap.
I highly recommend this walk and hut for anyone who is wanting to test the tramping waters with their family.
Age of our Kids: 17 months
Buggy Friendly: No
Walking Time: Around 2.5 hours to the river (one way)
Length: 5.2 km to the Orongorongo River, the hut we stayed at was across the river.
Difficulty: Moderate (but easy for an overnight tramp)
Amenities: There is a toilet in the Catchpool Valley carpark and one at the Turere Bridge Picnic area (once you get to the river). There are also a few seats along the walk.
Dogs: Yes, but on a lead only. There is a large kiwi sanctuary so definitely no off lead dogs. Things to be aware of: If you book a hut for the night be aware that most are on the other side of the river. The river can swell quickly after rain, but even when its low it still can move fast - so watch the kids.