Location: Waitotara Conservation Area

Time: Overnight, 5 hours each way

Difficulty: Medium (easy to follow track, hiking boots)


The walk to Trains hut starts with an epic-ly long and windy drive up the Waitora River. While this is rather picturesque (and I enjoyed this walk) the car-sickness (which I have always suffered) endured means that, for me at least, this is one of those hikes that is ticked off the list, one-time only type trips.

You can find information about this walk on the DoC website here, and the Topo map to print out and take with you here. As always, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be home!


The hike itself begins not as it means to continue. You begin immediately feeling that you are in the middle of nowhere on a back-country escapade. This vibe is quickly replaced with farm-style walking as the track joins up to a 4WD drive farm road which you walk on, with little shade, for several hours. This, honestly, felt grueling. While it made for beautiful unobstructed views of the river and surrounding ridged and peaks, it was rather uneventful and you had that painful “i should be driving this” feeling. The road/track is for access to the many beehives you will see along the way, and it seems that Waitotara River is a sweet little (get it?) production hive for New Zealand honey (YUM!). In saying that, the bees are not a problem at all (even though I’m a little cautious of hives, we walked in amongst them without any trouble, and they are pretty easy to avoid all together)

You can get permission from the land owner to use his 4WD track. Luckily for us a fellow hut stayer had done just that, and offered us a ride out the following day (which saved us many an hour climbing uphill in the heat). He also handed us a can of Tui each, and told us tales of local history and pointed out interesting little things we wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. This kind stranger seemed to frequent the place regularly, and although we never learnt his name, enhanced our weekend get-away like only a tanned 60 year old kiwi bloke hiking in the backcountry solo could. When we arrived at the hut he had already downed a few Bourbons, and happily chatted to us about all things out-doors and shared local knowledge until dark. He even showed us a picture he had of him as a lad, with his dad, at the old Trains Hut which, to say the least, was amazing.

I think that’s the best thing about hiking in New Zealand; those characters you met when you least expect to, the friendliness of others out in the bush and the way that everyone has this mutual respect and admiration for the blessing it is to be able to hike and stay back-country with such ease (thank you Department of Conservation)

Anyway, after an hour of walking on the 4WD track you will reach a clearing, where a homestead once stood. I believe it was pulled down due to ongoing vandalism, but you can still see some remain of the home and farm amenities (like a sheep dip). There are also wild blackberry bushes growing all over the place. We were a bit early to be able to pick these, but perhaps if you were there in Feb-March you would get a delicious pick-me-up-hiking-trail-snack. I’m pretty tempted to head back and do the hour walk just to forage some berries late Feb next year! I’ll update this post to let ya’ll know how it goes.

oh, and along with the bees, you’ll also see a lot of wild beef cows, goats and the odd rabbit!

The track from this point is absolutely stunning, with 3 swing bridges (a must-have to be considered a good hike in my books) to cross over. The great thing about this hike is that there is a distinct lack of grueling climb, and you just follow the river up, up, up, until you reach the hut. There are some interesting spots on the way. Like a little man-made tunnel to divert a stream when its in flood (made last century when the whole place was used for farmland) which can be found just off the track when you head down in to an old stream bed before you climb up a short way again.









Shortly before you reach the hut you can hear the sound of rushing water, and then you come across an amazing waterfall. Roughly 150 meters down stream of this waterfall is a little track off to the right that takes you down to the waters edge. You have to be paying attention though, we walked straight past it the first time!

The waterfall is called Terereohaupa Falls and is only a few meters high, but beautiful. (If you’re a waterfall chaser there is also a waterfall right near Trains hut. Looking at the hut, walk to the left through the field to a nearby group of trees, then follow your ears. Mikey Moo and our hut-friend climbed down to the bottom of the falls which were maybe 10-15m high. I decided to admire the falls from afar, and so didn’t manage any snaps this time! sorry folks)

Shortly after the falls is a swing bridge across the river which takes you to a track that will meet up with the Matemateonga track, a 3 day classic New Zealand hike through the Whanganui National Park. I did this hike around 10 years ago now (when we only had film cameras to capture the trip) but am hoping to take Mikey on it someday (when we can align our days off work without going overseas).

Once you get to the hut, a humble little back country hut, make sure you scout out the longdrop before dark! Then enjoy the night and head back on the same track.

Outside the hut is a memorial bench for Alex McLaren which reads “fell while hunting… friend off the bush.” A lovely tribute and lovely place to sit and breath in the fresh back-country air while enjoying your morning brew.


Happy tramping


6 thoughts on “Trains Hut, WAITOTARA

  1. Thanks for the detailed report! Can you camp outside the hut? Your pics make it look like you can fit tents?

    1. I’m not sure about “officially” but there is definitely space to find somewhere to pitch a tent, yup 🙂 I haven’t been for a few years but assume it hasn’t changed much.

  2. Thank you for your Report, it looks a lovely Tramp. On the drive up the Waitotara Valley to the Car parking area, do you cross any Fords? Cheers Brendon

    1. Hi Brendon,
      It was some time ago we did this tramp, and it was in the middle of summer. However I’m about 90% sure that there aren’t any fords on the drive up. From memory there are a few on the walk itself though.

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