IntroductionExplore beautiful beech forest, dramatic gorge scenery and rock debris dam at Lake Stanley. Trampers can also enjoy a historic hut experience in restored character huts from 1930s gold mining days.
- Road end - Anatoki Forks Hut: 8 hr
- Anatoki Forks Hut - Waingaro Forks Hut: 7-10 hr
- Waingaro Forks Hut - road end: 6-7 hr
Road end to Anatoki Forks Hut
Time: 8 hr
From the car park follow the markers and ford Go Ahead Creek before sidling up the hill to join onto an old benched gold miner’s track.
Note: The land either side of the access track up to this point is private land – respect it and leave gates as you find them. The side creeks are deeply incised, steep and very rocky. They are not bridged and can be challenging to cross even in normal conditions – they are dangerous to cross when in flood. We strongly recommended that you do not to attempt this section in heavy rain. If you encounter a localised downpour that has caused a creek to rise, wait a short period while the level drops again (pack an emergency shelter so you can stay dry while waiting).
Further on, beyond an old slip, the track passes through an area of regenerating forest before entering a mixed beech/ podocarp forest. The track then descends in a zigzag fashion to the Anatoki Bend. You are about half way to the hut. It is possible to camp here. From the Bend the track passes through many side gullies.
Once at the Anatoki Forks Hut (standard hut, 6 bunks), you will see evidence of old gold workings in the area. The hut is notable for having running water and a wetback that can provide a hot shower.
Anatoki Forks Hut
Anatoki Forks Hut to Waingaro Forks Hut
Time: 7–10 hr
A short distance from the hut take the left branch at a junction to head towards Waingaro Forks Hut. (The right branch crosses the Anatoki River and climbs steeply towards Adelaide Tarn Hut.) The first 45 minutes follows the remains of water races. It is then a steady climb to the saddle, crossing and re-crossing a stream, before descending for 40 minutes to the Stanley River. Here lies a large clearing suitable for camping. Just less than one hour on from here and you reach the western end of Lake Stanley – formed in the Murchison earthquake in 1929. On the true right of the South Branch of the Stanley River, at the western end of Lake Stanley is Soper Shelter.
A further hour and you reach the eastern end of the lake. The large slip here is still unstable, therefore it’s not safe to camp here. From here it is a further 3 hours – 3 hours 30 minutes onto the historic Waingaro Forks Hut. The track passes through forest and gravel flats and climbs to avoid the gorge before the junction of the Waingaro and Stanley Rivers.
Waingaro Forks Hut
Waingaro Forks Hut to road end
Time: 6–7 hr
A 200 metre walk upstream leads to a swingbridge across the rocky gorge of the Waingaro River. The track passes through beech forest and steadily climbs, on an old pack track, up the Lockett Range. Two hours on from the hut Skeet Creek is reached. Replenish your water bottle here. Beyond here the vegetation type changes to a more open stunted shrub land. A further 20–30 minutes on, the turn-off to Riordans Hut is reached. From the turnoff it’s a further 30 minutes to Riordans Hut.
Continuing on, the track passes through open vegetation providing good views along the Lockett Range. Look out for the restored Tin Hut, located in bush 60 metres below the track. The roof is visible from the track.
The track then descends through regenerating bush, predominantly of gorse and bracken, in a series of zigzags, down the Kill Devil Ridge to the end of the track. Uruwhenua Road is reached and a further 3 kilometres will take you back to the State Highway near Lindsay’s Bridge.
Turn off SH 60 1 km onto Kotinga Road, 1 km south of Takaka Township, Follow this road until nearly the end. Turn right at the sign and follow the road 3 km to a small car park and intentions shelter.
What to expect
- This is a very remote area, so we strongly advise carrying a distress beacon. Pack an emergency shelter, in case you are stuck when streams flood and need to wait for them to drop.
- There is a large landslide at the eastern end of Lake Stanley. It is still unstable so do not camp there.
- The terrain is often rough.
- Rain and flooded streams can alter your plans.
- Freezing conditions can occur at any time of year.
- Flooding: In normal flows the unbridged rivers Anatoki and Stanley and all side streams are easily crossed, however in flood they can become impassable. Be prepared to wait until flood waters recede.
- Wasps are a known hazard and are particularlycommon from December until April. Carry antihistamine if you are allergic to their stings.
- These tracks are classified as tramping tracks, suitable for experienced backcountry trampers only.
- You need to be well equipped and fit.
- You need to carry and know how to use a topographic map. NZTopo50map BP24 Takaka covers this area.
Stay safe when crossing rivers
If you plan to cross unbridged rivers, know how to cross safely and be prepared for if you cannot cross.
Do not cross if the river is flooded, you cannot find safe entry and exit points or are unsure it’s safe. Turn back or wait for the river to drop. If in doubt, stay out.
The Waingaro Track is a historic packhorse track built by gold miners in the 1890s.
Three restored character huts from 1930s mining days lie along the track. The building methods and materials used in the restoration are as faithful to the original huts as possible.
The old track remains in very original condition and together with the huts forms a rare “historic package” for trampers.