An ascent of Kaweka J is one of the more popular summit day walks in the North Island. Its broad summit is the highest point of the Kaweka Ranges, which lie about 90 minutes drive west of Napier.
|Location/List||North Island, New Zealand|
|Location Coordinates||39? 16′ 57″ S, 176? 22′ 46″ E|
From Napier, follow Puketitiri Road 60km all the way to Puketitiri. Branch left into Whittle Road, and then turn right on to Kaweka Rd. Take Kaweka Rd all the way to the end, where there is the Makahu Saddle carpark, toilets, and information.
Kaweka Road is pretty rough in places for a 4WD is recommended. In winter or after rain especially it would be a struggle for a 2WD to make it up Kaweka Road. The road is gravel, but some sections are bare clay, and it can be very steep.
There are no gas stations at all after Taradale so you need enough gas to a 200km return journey.
Google Earth Map
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NZ Topographic Map
Our Recommended Route
The walk up Kaweka J follows a well travelled and well marked route up Trials and Makahu Spurs to the summit ridge. Although a popular walk, heavy snowfalls occur in winter, and as with many of New Zealand’s peaks, the weather can turn nasty at any time.
From the Makahu Saddle carpark, signposts will guide you a short distance to Makahu Saddle Hut, and then up the switchbacks of the ominiously named Trials Spur. A couple of hours after leaving the carpark, you will reach Dominie Biv, which has a water tank if you need a refill.
From the biv, poles mark the track up Makahu Spur, and then eventually intercepts with anothetr poled route that runs along the summit ridge. The Kaweka J summit trig, and a WW2 memorial cairn lie a short distance to the south east of the Makahu Spur track intersection.
On the return journey, instead of going back down Trials Spur, you can continue on to your right and stay on the Makahu Spur Trck all the way back to the carpark.
The summit ridge of Kaweka J can be dangerous in bad weather, due to extremely low visibility and high winds. Also beware of snow and ice in winter.
Weather and Webcam Links
- Kaweka Forest Park at DOC website
- ‘Makahu Saddle to Kaweka J’ at DOC website
- Photos of Kaweka J and Views – from Eric Martinot
|North Island Weekend Tramps (Bird’s Eye Guides), Shaun Barnett. (2008), See pages 92-94|
|Day Walks in New Zealand: 100 Great Tracks(Bird’s Eye Guides), Shaun Barnett, Craig Potton Publishing (2007), See pages 68-69|