Upgrade makes Rangiwahia Hut track family friendly once again

Nina Mercer —  26/06/2014

Tramping with kids can be an incredibly rewarding experience, as long as there is plenty of patience, empathy and chocolate!

I recently took my eight year old son, Fenn, on a tramp to the Rangiwahia Hut in the Ruahine Forest Park.

Nina and her son, Fenn, in tramping gear sitting by the track in the bush.

Nina and eight-year-old Fenn

Rangiwahia Hut has long been a popular tramp for families, however, in 2005 a slip made Rangiwahia Hut track too dangerous to cross and a detour was put in place.

The detour was a steep scramble up and over the slip area, making the tramp to the hut much more challenging.

The Department of Conservation has now completed an extensive upgrade of the track and it is once again a very family friendly tramp.

Eight-year-old Fenn walking the Rangiwahia Hut Track.

The Rangiwahia Hut Track is family friendly once again

In just over an hour’s drive from Palmerston North we reached the track roadend.

At first the track meanders through large beech trees before reaching the start of the new section. From here it climbs gradually, via long zigzags and many steps.

Soon we were walking above the slip, and then starting to drop down beyond it.

The track then links up with its original path and a curved bridge crosses a deep gorge, fascinating for Fenn to gaze down, not so much for me!

From here on the track is easy enough, but it is still ascending and that involved a bit of sweat and effort.

The vegetation becomes more stunted alpine scrub and we stopped to enjoy a pretty waterfall with a lovely swimming hole beneath, not brave enough to go for a swim though!

From the falls it was a short climb up into the tussock before reaching Rangiwahia Hut, in just under two and a half hours from leaving the carpark.

The hut has 13 bunks, it is $15 per night for adults and $7.50 for youth (5-17 years), hut tickets can be purchased at DOC or i-sites. It is not possible to reserve a bed, first in, first served.

Fenn at Rangiwahia Hut.

Fenn at Rangiwahia Hut

We enjoyed the company of a pair of Wellington trampers and played a few hands of last card before turning in for the night.

The following day we considered our options; recommended for families is heading back the same way. Fenn and I chose to walk along the tops and down Deadman’s Track to make the loop, which made for a very long day… but that’s another story.

Nina Mercer


Nina is a Partnerships Ranger based in Palmerston North who has worked in conservation for more than twenty years. She has a passion for our natural environment and loves exploring the outdoors, especially with her family.

3 responses to Upgrade makes Rangiwahia Hut track family friendly once again


    Emma and I did the Rangi Walk a few months after the slip, at Christmas time. It was very memorable, as it rained the whole way and visibility was so low, that if I’d seen the landscape and the slip on the way up, I might have turned around and walked home again! At night we had a great fry up and told ghost stories in the hut. On Boxing Day, the sun came out and the view took our breath away. the best way to spend a christmas.