Where is it?:
Te Whare Okioki Hut is a 12 bed bookable hut built in 2019, located in the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park, the closest town being Matamata. We parked at the end of Te Tuhi Road.
We parked at the end of Te Tuhi Road and took the Te Tuhi Track, and then the North to South Track to the hut. It’s marked as 3hrs 30 to Te Whare Okioki.
The first section of the walk is over (UP!) farmland for a good 45mins. My advice would be to take the gravel road past the cow sheds (where the sign says “this section of track passes over private property” I would NOT go over the stile and across the paddock, instead open the farm gate and stick to the gravel road until you reach the orange markers on your right hand side). We went over the paddock on the way there and it wasn’t well marked, we got two sharp electric shocks from electric fence lines (sorry husband for letting you test to see if it was on!) – only to then come back out on to the gravel road!
There’s a few more electric fence crossings… gingerly stepping across a plank over a water trough, and taking packs-off to limbo over/under a few (even with plastic tubing on it, I wasn’t keen to risk zapping my crotch, or my two year old…)
After the farmland grind you walk through a patch of wild blackberries and then down into the bush, hitting a small stream crossing before about 40mins of uphill. We thought we would hit the Nth/Sth track once we made it to the ridgeline, but nope we descended for about an hour – there were 3 more river crossings (and a much needed lunch break at the sign that marked the side track to Mangamuka hut) before we finally hit the junction.
From here, Te Whare Okioki was signposted 1hr, it took us another 1.5hrs – a few stream crossings, a LOT of mud, and some clay sections that had turned into a bit of a mud/clay slip n slide chute. Seeing the hut finally was a relief!
It took us 5hrs including stops, approx 8km, 485m elevation gain.
On the return journey we were wary of the weather turning (rain would have made the uphill AND downhill so slippery) so we hotfooted it. My husband muscled all 3 kids up a lot of the muddiest/slippery sections which helped speed up our return journey… and we stuck to the gravel farm road rather than plodding through a paddock.
Took us 3hrs 45 on the way back & measured 8.5km.
I’m glad we did this as our last hut for the kids this season, to give their little legs lots of practice on easier terrain prior. They handled it like little champs though, with barely any whinging! Very tired little bunnies afterwards. Definitely one to consider with kids who have some tramping experience under their belt.
The hut was fantastic! 12 bunks (6 up/ 6 down) in a large open room with fireplace, stainless steel benches/ tables and bench seats. There was a first aid kit, playing cards, and tramping club magazines. Outside there’s a covered deck, sink/ bench, loads of kitchen utensils/ pots, lots of hooks to hang things up and picnic tables. There’s even solar lighting! There’s a wood shed & axe, but very little kindling or paper/card to start a fire with (we did find some fire lighters the next morning under the outside sink!) so would recommend bringing in a small bit of newspaper etc. The hut is concrete floor/ walls & high ceiling so it’s incredibly cold without the fire going!
Outside the hut there is a woodshed, a long drop toilet and picnic tables. There is a fire pit (not entirely sure if it’s completely ‘legal’!) which would be fun to have a wee outside fire in the summer months too.
Good to know:
Opal hot springs are 5mins drive away, worth stopping in for a soak afterwards!
22 May 2021.
Our group was meant to be 3 families, but sickness whittled us down to only 6 – The Topp Family (Leah & Jason, Stella (aged 4) and Sylvia (aged 2); and Monique & Makayla Bell (aged 4). The 4year olds both walked, and the 2yr old was carried in a backpack.