This long route is a historical trampers route traversing the length of the Mighty Tararua from Putara in the north to Kaitoke in the south. Once, this was a 2-4 day tramp that is now being completed in under 24 hours.
The route is similar (some say not as hard) as the UK's Bob Graham Round. There have been 13 successful sub-24 hour club members. Could you be the 14th? Find more information on how you lodge your challenge is under the "Need to Know" section.
This is a mountain route so runners will needs backcountry experience to attempt this route.
Water re-supply—Herepai, Dundas (but its a big drop down then climb back to main ridge) Drac Biv (Herepai to Drac biv is a long 6 hour section with no water if you don't drop to Dundas), Nichols (if you drop down but only a quick drop and climb) Andersons, Mangahuka, Kime, Alpha.
S-K Bail Outs:
Junction Knob via Waitawaewae to Otaki Forks
Kime Hut to Otaki Forks via Field Hut
S-K By Section:
Stage 1: Herepai (Alt 700m, Dist 4.5 km) An open DOC track with well-formed climbs from the road to Herepai.
Stage 2: East Peak (Alt 1200m, Dist 3.2 km) This is where it gets rugged. There is no formed track, more of a route with cairns and ridges.
Stage 3: Dundas (Alt 1400m, Dist 6.2 km) As above…the track gets quite narrow and ridgy, and it is generally slow going.
Stage 4: Arete (Alt 1400m, Dist 6 km) This section is lovely and open with amazing views. It is still more of a route than track.
Stage 5: Drac Biv (Alt 1200m, Dist 7 km) A well-formed DOC track that drops down through bush.
Stage 6: Nicholls (Alt 1100m, Dist 4 km) Run through the bush to you climb back onto mountain tops and Nicholls.
Stage 7: Andersons (Alt 1300m, Dist 4 km) This is a lovely open part of route that is not too steep and great in clear weather.
Stage 8: Aokap (Alt 1300m, Dist 4 km) Generally open…Be careful to get your navigation correct at Aokap. It is a quite exposed open section with not many markers or cairns. This portion can be especially tricky in clag. It's recommend that you have the Trail Run Project mobile app
, GPS, or good map and compass work here.
Stage 9: Mangahuka (Alt 1000m, Dist 6 km) This is the section that really starts to test you along the Main SMR (Southern Main Range) proper. It gets more gnarly (not as bad as Nth Tararua but more walky, climby than steady run-y). That applies to whole S-K really…
Stage 10: Kime (Alt 1300m, Dist 10 km) This is the key section of whole S-K for me. It involves The Taraua ladder! And there are several things to watch out for...
As you leave Maungahuka, you'll reach an intersection that goes left down to Neil Forks or right along to the ladder. Make sure you do not take the left down to Neil Forks! It is not very well signed so check your GPS here. The actual intersection is about 50m before the intersection sign.
Next the Tararua Ladder! A right of passage!
Next thing, turn right at the top of the ladder. You'll not see where to go until the top of ladder where there is a narrow walkway to the right…not the left. I made that mistake, and it wasn’t fun.
The SMR to Bridge Peak is the toughest section for me. It is endless climbs especially the last climb to Bridge Peak. When you have got to top, you know the worst is over. At the Bridge Peak intersection, "Turn right for shopping; Left for Glory."
Stage 11: Alpha (Alt 1200m, Dist 8 km) Climbs. This section is a bit gnarly, but it finally opens up as you get towards Alpha.
Stage 12: Block XVI (Alt 900m, Dist 6 km) Welcome to the Marchant Ridge! It will go on and on and on. Be ready for roots and more roots and more roots…
Stage 13: Kaitoke (Alt 400m, Dist 11 km) Similar to stage 12, until it opens up a bit near the end and hits the DOC track and the last few kilometers to the end.
Revered and feared by many experienced trampers and mountain runners, this is the toughest challenge in the Tararuas. It was first accomplished in 1963 (1963 was the first recorded trip in a weekend, but not the first trip of the route -1931 for a tramping party, possibly before that unrecorded). In those days, the route took them up the Shormanns track to Putara hut near the Putara Road end. Putara hut was burnt down in 1977 and was replaced with Herepai hut. Schormanns track was closed but the name stuck.
With weekend S-Ks being completed fairly regularly by fit trampers, human nature grabbed a few ambitious souls by their laces and encouraged a no sleep approach with a view to knocking off the Main Range S-K in under 24 hours. Roger Coventry in 1975 seemed to be the first to give this method a good go, arriving at Kaitoke 28 hours after leaving Putara, commenting in his write up afterwards, "that the prospect of a 24 hour SK is not such a dream after all."