Mr and Mrs Walking with Kids
Tutuwai Hut from Waiohine Gorge - Tararua Ranges (Overnight Tramp)
Updated: Apr 16, 2022
Saturday 14th August - Sunday 15th August 2021
Location: Waiohine Gorge Road, Carterton 5791, Wairarapa
We had heard a lot about this walk prior to starting. Our kids both had bags for the first time which had a few of their own personal things and a drink bottle. Master 9 took to this easily, Miss 6, a little less so (we ended up attaching it to one of our packs, we gave up easily as desperately wanted to build awesome memories).
We went with three other families and in true Waiohine Gorge fashion - the first challenge was getting everyone over the scenic (and for some terrifying) don't look down Waiohine Gorge swing bridge.
We knew this would be a long one and that it was technical getting up and over the saddle, it did not disappoint. Because it was winter the track was a bog most of the way, making proper tramping boots a must. The kids loved the challenge of the climb….up until about halfway. It was then we used our secret weapon, one of the dads is a master story teller. Weaving everyone personally into the fantastical story, what we were seeing and where we were going - incredibly he managed to get everyone up the hill, along the ridge and then down to Cone Hut without a single complaint (a solid 2 hours!). What a legend!
The top of the ridge was cold wet and windy and the valley below about the same. It was important to stop in good, sheltered places along the way to make sure everyone didn't get cold, there were a few decent places for this. Every time we stopped we all put our jackets and hats back on because we cooled down so fast - always good to have them handy at the top of the pack!
While at the historical Cone Hut we double checked with the kids if they wanted to bunk down there or continue on to Tutuwai. They had a look around and turned their noses up, they all decided they wanted more luxury so we continued on to Tutuwai. Ahh children these days :P
Along the Tauherenikau River there were several creek crossings but only one required feet to get wet and that was close to Tutuwai Hut. We all got soaked in the last hour as the rain pelted down, the kids mastered Mud, Mud Glorious Mud - which helped lift their spirits (still practicing the next day in the video below)
Tutuwai Hut is up to your left (away from the river). The track up to the hut has a drop-off on one side - we had one little incident of a child coming off so keep an eye on that.
The hut itself is older but tidy. Our group almost filled it (and then some more unfortunate people arrived).
We woke to a beautiful chilly morning with a heavy frost. Hot porridge for breakfast and then everyone put their cold wet boots back on and we headed home.
Walking back is a little easier as the track up from Cone Hut isn't as steep as the Waiohine side. Walking down from Cone Ridge to Waiohine Gorge was a breeze for the kids but definitely got a few of the adults knees.
Fantastic tramp! Stunning goblin forests, beautiful river! We'll be back soon Tararua's :)
Age of Kids: Miss 6 and Master 9
Walking Time: 5.5 hours each day (with a few stops in there)
Difficulty: Moderate - it's a proper tramp with a stiff climb up and down. The tracks are well marked.
Buggy Friendly: No
Amenities: A long drop toilet is available at the start of the track & Tutuwai Hut is serviced so had long drops and running water.
Dogs: Yes, it's a great walk for the dogs! (but remember to check the DOC website re 1080 drops)
Be Aware: The top of the saddle is exposed so keep your jackets handy. Everyone needs proper boots for this.
Kids Rating (0-10)
Overall Fun Factor: 9
Legendary Factor: 9
Would we do it again?: 6
Exhaustion Factor: 8
"There were lots of streams to skip across. You felt very deep in the bush. I like it because when we got there there was nothing to do. The hut was very cosy. We cut wood, made a fire, roasted marshmallows and played cards."