Whareorino Forest tramping tracks
Track numbers correspond to map below and Waitomo and King Country tracks brochure (PDF, 1,162K).
Leitch's Track (#16)
Time: 3 hr to Leitch's Hut
Access to Leitch's Track is off Leitch Road via Mangaotaki Road (turn westwards at Piopio). From the car park at the end of Leitch Road, the track enters Whareorino Forest. A former surveyed road, this popular and clearly marked track is well graded and the shortest route to Leitch's Hut.
Camping in Leitch's Clearing
Mahoenui Track (#17)
Time: 3 hr to Leitch's Hut
This pleasant track follows the Awakino River from Chris Barker's farm on Gribbon Road upstream to Leitch's Hut. (Please phone owners for access and parking permission first on +64 7 877 8746.)
Follow the river north to the junction with the Waikawau Track. Cross to the east bank of the Awakino and walk north for five minutes to the hut. In winter and periods of heavy rain the river may be too deep to cross. Check the weather forecast before walking this track.
Waikawau Track (#18)
Time: 7 hr to Leitch's Hut
Turn onto Crawford Road off Manganui Road. Park on the northern side of the Waikawau River on Littin's farm. (Please phone the owners for permission first +64 6 752 9737.)
Follow the markers along the Waikawau and Mangapapa Rivers. This is a gradual climb with several river crossings. Continue up to the Waikawau Saddle and then descend to Leitch's Clearing. Follow the clearing down to the Awakino River, cross it and walk north along the river for five minutes to Leitch's Hut. In winter and periods of heavy rain the river may be too deep to cross. Check the weather forecast before walking this track.
Mangatoa Track (#19)
Time: 4 hr to Leitch's Hut
From the car park on Mangatoa Road saddle, walk along the gradually climbing track until you reach the Herangi Ridge. The track veers right and drops down past the Waikawau track junction before taking you to Leitch's Hut.
Whareorino Forest is approximately 45 km southwest of Te Kuiti. Access to Leitch's Track is off Leitch Rd via Mangaotaki Road (turn right at Pio Pio).
Entrance to Waikawau Track is off Crawford Road off Manganui Road, Waikawau.
Entrance to Mahoenui Track is off Gribbon Road, turn off State Highway 3 at Mahoenui.
Entrance to Mangatoa Track is off Mangatoa Road saddle either via Waikawau or Marokopa.
Maps: Use NZTopo50 Marokopa BF31 and Piopio BF32 1:50 000
Bird and wildlife watching
The forest is home to a variety of New Zealand birds. Bush falcon (karearea), grey warbler (riroriro), tomtit (miromiro), New Zealand pigeon (kereru), rifleman (titipounamu), bellbird (korimako), whitehead (popokatea), and in summer long-tail cuckoo (koekoea). Each of the tramping tracks into Leitch's clearing offers opportunities for bird watching. Be sure to take a pair of binoculars and a camera with you. You need to be well prepared when tramping on these tracks. Have strong comfortable shoes or boots, warm clothing, a good rain coat, first aid kit, food and drink, a hat and sunscreen.
Dogs and owners are welcome to use the tramping tracks throughout the conservation area for exercise. A dog control permit is required and available from the Maniapoto Area Office. Dogs must be under control at all times. You need to be well prepared when tramping on these tracks. Have strong comfortable shoes or boots, warm clothing, a good rain coat, first aid kit, food and drink, a hat and sunscreen.
The Whareorino Conservation Area is home to some exceptional fishing. The headwaters of the Awakino river offer a true backcountry fishing experience with easy access via the Mahoenui track.The headwaters of the Awakino are highly regarded and restricted to fly fishing only. Although numbers are low, the fish can be large, making for exciting fishing. Trout fishing licenses are necessary and can be obtained from the Fish and Game website (www.fishandgame.org.nz). The fishing season is from 1 October to 30 June.
Settler history may still be seen in the Whareorino Conservation Area. Leitch's Clearing is the remainder of the most isolated of eight settler farms. The land Sam Leitch cleared and the macrocarpa and eleagnus hedge he planted remain. There are four tracks that lead to Leitch's clearing. Leitch's track is the shortest route, while Mahoenui track, Waikawau track, and Mangatoa track also lead to the clearing. There is a hut at Leitch's clearing available for overnight use. There are also many areas suitable for camping in Leitch's clearing. You need to be well prepared when tramping on these tracks. Have strong comfortable shoes or boots, warm clothing, a good rain coat, first aid kit, food and drink, a hat and sunscreen. You will also need a sleeping bag and cooker if staying at the hut. The cost for staying in the hut is $5.00 per adult, $2.50 youth per night. If you want to camp and use the hut facilities you still need to purchase a hut ticket.
There are moderate populations of pigs and goats throughout the Whareorino Conservation Area. Leitch's Track provides the easiest access into the area. Hunting permits are available online or by contacting your closest DOC office. Dogs must be under control at all times, particularly around the boundary of the area which adjoins neighbouring farms.
See Hunting in the Whareorino area.
About the area
Whareorino Forest lies 30 km southwest of Te Kuiti and is the largest and one of the most significant forested areas in the western King Country. It is dominated by the Herangi Range.
Whareorino features tawa, hinau, kamahi, rewarewa as well as podocarps and is particularly special for its range of vegetation, from coastal and lowland vegetation types to subalpine and montane.
Its proximity to the west coast provides an unusually cold and moist climate. At the top of the Herangi Range, 600–800 m above sea level, the ridges are covered in low scrub and kaikawaka along with neinei, pepperwood and divaricating shrubs interspersed with areas of cushion bog. This vegetation is sub-alpine and uncommon in the King Country.
It is home to a variety of New Zealand birds including falcon, grey warbler, tomtit, kereru, riflemen, bellbird, whitehead, and in summer, long-tailed cuckoo. There have also been occasional sightings of kaka, kiwi and kokako.
Long tailed bats live here also and you may see them feeding at dusk around the macrocarpa trees at Leitch’s Hut. Two species of native frog are found in Whareorino Forest. The critically endangered Archey’s frog occurs in damp areas at high altitude while the more widespread Hochstetter’s frog lives along streams and creeks throughout the forest.
Plan and prepare
Endangered Archey's frog on fern,
The endangered Archey's frog is present in the high altitude of the northern Whareorino Conservation Area. Chytrid fungus a disease affecting frog survival has been found in the Archey's frog population in Whareorino and as a result a number of tracks in the forest have been closed to protect further infection in high risk areas. Trampers are asked to keep to designated tracks in order to stop the inadvertent spreading of chytrid fungus.
Map of Whareorino Forest
View larger map to print (JPG,220K)
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.
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