Saturday 8th January - Sunday 9th January 2022
Location: Turn off State Highway 2 onto Norfolk Road, 2 km south of Masterton. This is signposted and there is a timber processing plant on the corner. Follow Norfolk Road 15 km to Holdsworth road end.
This is possibly the best first overnight tramp for little people in the Tararua Ranges. While we did the walk in/out and had a good scope out of the Hut we tagged this onto our Jumbo tramp (check out our other blog on this). We'll definitely come back to Atiwhakatu Hut with some of our friends who are new to tramping.
So... back to the the Atiwhakatu Track. The track starts at the Mt Holdsworth car park. Before you reach the first swing bridge make sure you sign the intentions book at the Mt Holdsworth Lodge. While this is a really easy tramp, there is no cellphone reception so you need to let people know where you are. If you're tramping with little feet we'd suggest you get a few tramps under your belt first or go with others who have experience. The Tararua's are unpredictable at the best of times.
The first part of the track takes you through Donnelly's Flats which soon joins the Atiwhakatu Track. The signage from Holdsworth is really good so you shouldn't get lost.
Once you're on the main track you'll enjoy an easy meander up alongside the Atiwhakatu river. While there are a few stairs the climbs are all short and broken up by 24+ boardwalks (counted by Miss 7) and approximately 8x bridges (although it's good to note that Miss 7 is not going to bet her pocket money on her accuracy).
There is one small slip which needs a little scrambling over (we'd suggest keeping the kids close) but other than that the track is wide with majestic trees for shade.
This track is a huge contrast to some of the other tramps we've been on where we're navigating roots, steep drop offs and the constant need to locate orange triangles or risk getting lost.
We found that with all the boardwalks and bridges there's lots to keep the little ones engaged and the tramp is short enough to be achievable by most active children.
We took around 2.5 hours in and just over 2 hours out (including stops). In saying that we motored along, novice trampers might be closer to 3 hours and with little kids maybe 4-5hrs.
Atiwhakatu is one of the few huts which you can book in the Tararua's; this is particularly great if you're tramping with a group of families and are worried about not getting a bed (or having to carry all the extra just incase sleep mats.)
The Hut has 3 bedrooms (26 beds) which are separate from the dining area, brilliant if you have a bunch of kids. Most of the huts are open plan so you have to master the art of convincing little ones it's bed time while the adults sit around and chat. There are water tanks, two long drops, picnic tables a fire pit and a river.
Age of Kids: Miss 7 and Master 9.
Walking Time: 2.5 hours each way
Length: 7km (each way)
Difficulty: Moderate (but easy for an overnight tramp)
Buggy Friendly: No
Amenities: There are toilets and water in the Mt Holdsworth carpark and running water/toilets (2x long drops) and a fireplace at Atiwhakatu hut.
Dogs: Generally no, there is often poison drops in the Tararua's so check out the DOC website
Be Aware: We haven't stayed the night at Atiwhakatu Hut but can imagine if it was a cold night it could be chilly due to the bedrooms being separate from the dining area where the fire is situated.
Kids Rating (0-10)
Overall Fun Factor: 8
Legendary Factor: 3
Would we do it again?: 8
Exhaustion Factor: 3
Getting There: Holdsworth Carpark