The Ruahine Forest Park covers an area of 94,000 ha which consists of tussock tops, craggy peaks, bush covered ranges and picturesque rivers. It offers considerable recreational opportunities including tramping, hunting, cross country skiing, kayaking, fishing, swimming and camping. There is a network of tracks and huts.
Historic Ski Field (no longer used)
During the 1930s the rounded open top of the ranges beckoned to ski enthusiasts, and in 1938 the Rangiwahia Ski Club was formed. A ski tow was built, a bulldozer winched up to level the slopes and a shepherd's hut extended. The hut has since been replaced (Rangiwahia Hut on Rangiwahia Track) and little evidence of the former ski-field remains.
Rangiwahia Hut (site of old skifield)
Rangiwahia Hut remains a popular destination for trampers. To get there park at the end of Renfrew Road and tramp to the tussock tops and Rangiwahia Hut along either Rangiwahia Track or Dead Man's Track. Rangiwahia Track is about 3-4 hours to the hut, which can sleep 12. On a good day you can see spectacular views across the countryside to Mt Taranaki and the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park. During years with good snowfall, this area is popular locally for cross-country skiing and snowboarding.
Lake Colenso, and its surrounding basin, is a unique scenic, ecological and historic feature of Ruahine Forest Park. Its Māori name, Kokopunui, refers to the presence of native fish, and eels, in the lake and thus its significance as a source of food. From an ecological point of view this remote lake has significant value. There are no introduced weeds or fish in the lake and the surrounding swampy basin is the only area of lowland podocarp forest found in the Ruahine Range.
The podocarp forest and the surrounding red beech forest provide a habitat for more than twenty species of native birds including whio and kaka. The lake is surrounded by 150 metre high limestone escarpments which are an impressive sight and an effective barrier guarding the special features of this isolated mountain lake.
The forest park stretches almost 100 km from the Taruarau River in the north to the Manawatu Gorge in the South.
Several roads provide access to the park, although carparks may be some distance from the park boundary. Remember: Ruahine Forest Park is characterised by a cool, cloudy climate with heavy rain at times. The area is renown for strong winds especially in the southern ranges, and there can be snow at any time of the year.
Get local advice on track and weather conditions before setting out.
Weather can change quickly with heavy rain and strong winds common even in summer. Always take warm clothing and a waterproof outer layer.
With heavy rain streams and rivers rise quickly. If there are no bridges, turn back and wait for the river levels to go down.
It is recommended that you boil, chemically treat or filter water before drinking.
Be aware that vehicles left at road ends have sometimes been broken into.
Always tell someone reliable what your tramping intentions are.
Topographical maps and a compass are essential. Many of the open tops are unmarked and should only be crossed in good visibility.
Plan & Prepare
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.