North Wairarapa, Wairarapa, New Zealand
Classic tramp to top of Mt Holdsworth, one of the most accessible Tararua Peaks from the Wairarapa
Getting to the top of a 1475 metre mountain peak isn't easy, but Mt Holdsworth is one of the most popular and easier peaks to reach in the Tararua Ranges. The entrance off Mt Holdsworth Road is one of the main gateways to the Tararuas, and is a popular spot at almost any time of year for short walks, overnight hut stays, or longer tramps.
At the end of Mt Holdsworth Road the entrance to the Tararua national park has a large carpark with toilets, picnic areas, a hut and nearby caretakers residence. From here there is a short walk to the river, a sturdy wooden bridge, and then turn right and follow the signs for "Powell Hut". There are several shorter loop walks off the main track. About 1.5 km from the carpark the Powell Hut and lookout is signposted (7 km, 5 hours). Head off left up this track. The route from here up to Mountain Shelter is known as "Gentle Annie", and it is a pleasant grade and very good track. About 45 minutes up this track there is a small lookout signposted on the left - on a clear day you can get a good view of Mt Holdsworth and Powell Hut (these clear days do not occur very often!). As the climb levels out at around 700 metres there is a signpost on the left to an alternative popular tramping track to Totara Flats hut. The track is reasonably flat along the ridge to Mountain Shelter, but being flat it can be boggy in places after wet weather.
Boardwalk near Mountain Shelter
Mountain Shelter is a good spot for a rest and bite to eat. Note that this is just a shelter, and is not suitable for overnight sleeping. About 400 metres before reaching Mountain Shelter is a track down to the Atiwhakatu Stream. A good 4 hour loop walk is up Gentle Annie to Mountain Shelter, then back down the Mountain Shelter track to the stream and back to the carpark. This track down to the stream is much poorer quality than the Gentle Annie track. It is well formed, but is rich in tree roots and boggy in places. Orange triangles are your friend. The Atiwhakatu Stream track is relatively flat, well formed with gravel base and is easy walking.
Allow 2-3 hours to reach Mountain Shelter from the Holdsworth carpark. From Mountain Shelter, Powell Hut is less than 2 km away, but allow 1 hour to get there. The track is well formed in most places, but the ascent is from about 730 metres to over 1200 metres. There are a couple of places where it is necessary to clamber up rocks with careful hand and foot placement. Whereas the Gentle Annie track was "easy", this route to Powell Hut is "intermediate". It is in bush most of the way and you should be fine even in bad weather. Powell Hut is a large and well serviced hut (3 tickets if staying overnight) sleeping about 20. There are toilets, cooking facilities, water, and a great view from the balcony over the Wairarapa on a fine day.
The summit of Mt Holdsworth is about 45 minutes from Powell Hut. There is a short steep climb from the hut, and then a gentle gradient to the summit at about 1475 metres, marked with a trig. This part should only be undertaken during suitable conditions. The top of a mountain is highly exposed, and subject to strong winds, cold, rain, ice and snow. That said, I've been up there in both summer and winter without a breath of wind, but breath-taking views over the Wairarapa and other Tararua peaks. There is likely to be snow and ice up here in winter, requiring proper equipment and care as there are long drops in places near the track. A signpost near the trig indicates the continuation of the track along the top of the ridge to Jumbo and Jumbo Hut. It is possible to do a day trip up Gentle Annie to Mt Holdsworth, along to Jumbo and back down to Atiwhakatu Hut and carpark (a full day trip).
Allow 8 - 9 hours for a day tramp from the Holdsworth carpark to Mt Holdsworth and back via Gentle Annie or the Mountain Shelter track (about 23 km round trip).
Mt Holdsworth trig after snow
Turn on to Norfolk Road which is a few km south of Masterton on SH2, and is signposted to Mt Holdsworth. Follow this road, which becomes Mt Holdsworth Road, and terminates in the carpark at the entrance to the Forest Park.
Tramping in National Parks requires proper preparation - take adequate food and water, warm and waterproof clothing, and sun protection in summer. And advise someone of your intentions.
Reasonable cellphone coverage along this route, including Powell Hut and the top of Mt Holdsworth. GPS signal good except on Atiwhakatu stream track in the valley.
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23 Aug 2010 by ledzep
Download GPS path: kml