GTGO Te Araroa Stage Two | Mt Pirongia Traverse | Back Country Cuisine

GTGO Te Araroa Stage Two | Mt Pirongia Traverse

16 December 2022

Te Araroa




Robert Bruce - Got To Get Out


The purpose of this series is to encourage every day Kiwis to walk sections of Te Araroa, to improve their health and wellness and prove it’s not just for fit foreigners. The Pirongia Traverse section of Te Araroa is a 16km ‘up and over’ Mt Pirongia, a mighty ancient volcano in the Waikato region.

The traverse of Pirongia Mountain starts with the Department of Conservation’s Nikau Walk - an easy stroll south from the Kāniwhaniwha carpark, following the stream through a forest of plantings. Before long you are plunged into dense original native bush, including rimu, totara, nīkau and tawa. If you listen carefully, you can hear the song of native birds that are benefitting from intense trapping and predator control in the area.

The ascent to the summit (Tahuanui Track) is a pretty hard slog, especially if you are new to bush walking, as our group were. The novice hikers featured in this video found it challenging, though did very well to all make it to camp. The hardest part of the track (both up and down) is the thick mud and slippy roots that can cause some trouble, especially after rain. Check the weather forecast before starting this trek, as it can be quite challenging in high winds, and rain.

Day two of the traverse is a steep descent from campsite, to the Waitomo side of Pirongia via a well made boardwalk. For some, especially with bad knees, it can be as hard or harder getting down, as it was getting up the mountain the day prior.


  1. Mt Porongia Traverse
  • Original native bush, including Rimu, Totara, Nīkau and Tawa
  • Camping or staying at Pahautea Hut
  • The views over the Waikato and beyond to Ruapehu and Taranaki (on a good day)
  • The boardwalks
  • To introduce our rookies to Back Country Cuisine we used 24 Hour Ration Packs for this hike, which is a great way to ensure everyone had enough food and the right rations for this hike.
  • For more information on food for hiking check out our blog post: How to Make Tramping Food Simple
  • There is no water on the trail (up or down) so ensure you have enough for 5-7 hours in the bush each day. We took 3 litres each, then filled up at camp
  • The track is exposed in places and it rains a lot on the mountain. Pack a good coat, warm clothes, and waterproof gear, including pack cover
  • Some hikers prefer trail sneakers / runners to boots, but in this case the thick mud (often shin deep) and slippery roots, lend the track to boots in my opinion
  • Shin gaiters are another good idea, to keep mud out of your socks
  • Pack light as it is a hard slog uphill: source lightweight equipment, cooker, sleeping bag and backpack, and avoid carrying unnecessary kit
  • Make sure you have all the pegs for your tent. The wind can whip through the camp ground, as we found out the hard way
  • Trekking poles can be useful on long flat sections of Te Araroa, to take strain off your back and provide balance, but are less useful through dense steep bush such as Pirongia. Pack them anyway
  • The campsite has longdrop facility (bring own toilet paper just to be safe), running water (recommended to boil). Bring your own gas bottle


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