How To Get There
The hut can be accessed via a number of routes. This report describes a circuit
route starting at the Franklin Road access, following the Waitawheta tramline to the hut, and returning
via Ananui Falls back to Franklin Road.
Franklin Road is approximately 10 kms from Waihi, which is on State Highway 2 between
Auckland (140 kms) and Tauranga (70 kms). There is ample parking just before the road end near a DOC sign. Parking is not permitted at the road end.
Starting out at Franklin Road End, the track leads across farmland before entering bush. The track follows the old tramline that was used by loggers to remove Kauri from the forest.
There are a number of river crossings along the way, none of which are difficult. At these river crossings the remains of the concrete pillars for the tramline can be seen. Magnificent rock formations can also be seen as the route winds through the forest. About three hours from the road end, a turn-off to Waitawheta Hut is reached.
The turn-off leads right over a swingbridge, from which the remains of an old mill can be seen. The track leads on to the hut, some 20 minutes away.
The spacious hut is situated in a large clearing. Remains from the old logging days can be seen strewn around the clearing. There are a number of loop tracks around the hut with more logging works remains.
The hut can be very popular, but it does have bunk space for over 20 people. There is plenty of floor space and it has two verandahs as well. Although the hut is very comfortable it does not have the same character as some of the old backcountry huts.
At the rear of the hut is a track that leads to a lovely spot where glow-worms can be seen after dark.
Follow the track back to the swingbridge and at the turn-off carry on to the right. This track follows the Waitawheta River until it turns left up a side-stream to a saddle. Passing over the saddle, the track drops down into the Waitengaue Stream.
After a while a junction is reached. The route straight ahead follows the Waitengaue Stream. The left-hand route leads uphill towrds the Ananui Falls. Along the way glimpses can be seen of the impressive 70m falls. After a good climb uphill, a turn-off to the Falls is reached. The Falls are a great place to stop for a rest and the sheer drop into the bush below is quite impressive. The views across the Kaimai range are also stunning.
Back at the main track, it now leads north-west back towards the Waitewheta Valley. The track leads through some great bush, and there are a few grassy clearings along the way where a welcome lunch break can be taken. Dropping down into the Waitewheta Valley, the track meets the Kauri Loop Track. On the loop track a couple of fine Kauri specimens can be spotted, remnants of an era before the loggers came.
The loop track leads back to the Waitawheta River. Crossing the river, the tramline track is reached. This leads back to the car park at the Franklin Road End.