How To Get There
The Horomanga Valley is located on the western edge of Te Urewera National Park. If travelling from the north, take State Highway 30 from Awakeri (on SH 2) and turn left onto MacDonald Road. This joins up with Galatea Road to take you past the Matahina Dam. Keep an eye out for Grant Road on the left, this leads to Troutbeck Road where you turn right. Just after you cross the Horomanga River there is a left turn along a gravel road that leads to the start of the track. The gravel road is suitable for two wheel drive vehicles.
If travelling from the south, take State Highway 38 from Rotorua to the Te Urewera National Park. A few kilometres after you pass Murupara, Troutbeck Road is a left turn off the State Highway. The gravel road leading to the start of the track is located just before the Horomanga River bridge approximately 1 km after the Haumea Road turnoff.
I reached the car park just after 10 on a lovely spring Saturday morning. There were a number of other vehicles in the car park, including two horse boxes. So I would obviously have some company at some stage of the tramp.
The start of the track is marked at the side of the car park with an orange marker. Horse tracks indicated that they had taken the river route. The tramping track leads upwards to take you over a small hill. This cuts off a corner of the meandering Horomanga River. The track soon drops down to the river though and from here on it's a river tramp.
It's definitely a wet feet tramp with approximately 40 river crossings to reach the hut. On the day I tramped to the hut there had been a few showers the night before and some of the river crossings were tricky. Obviously this route would be difficult if not impossible after heavy rain.
Along this first section of the tramp, I passed a hunter and his son on horse back. They were proudly carrying out a deer that had shot the previous day. Whilst I chatted to them, another hunter came along from behind me - it was going to be a busy track! He was going to try his luck up the Mangawhero Stream.
The first good spot to have a break is the old Mangawhero Hut site (1h 45 mins), just after the Mangawhero Stream branches off. The hut suffered the same fate as many other huts in being too close to the start of the track. After many years of vandalism and neglect it was burnt out and DOC made the decision to not replace it. Just a few concrete blocks and a small sign indicate the previous existence of a hut at the site.
After a good lunch, I carried on up stream. The afternoon consisted of more river crossings, but these were becoming easier as I reached further up the valley. The valley also opened out a wee bit which allowed longer gaps between crossings. I stopped for a while to take some photos of the river tumbling over some boulders and discovered that I had forgotten to pack the insect repellant as the sand flies closed in and feasted.
Some two hours after my lunch, I reached Midway Hut (3h 45m). I almost missed it, as it sits high up on a terrace on the true left of the Horomanga River nestling in the surrounding bush. A quick scramble up a side track and I was able to relax and enjoy the lovely view from the hut verandah across the valley. It's a really great spot.
I shared the hut with a local possum hunter and after swapping a few tramping stories about the area, I cooked up dinner and settled back for a quiet evening, sitting on verandah admiring the view.
The next morning, after an usually good sleep despite the possum on the roof, I had some porridge, packed up and made an early start. I took the same route out as there are no options to loop off the track here. Along the way I met quite a few people, either out hunting, fishing or just having a good day hike in the bush. It was actually quite a busy part of the park, usually so for the northern end.
This was a lovely two day tramp and there are many other possibilities for longer tramps in the valley. The hut was in a lovely spot, although is now reachable by 4 wheel drive from the south (vehicle access in a national park is illegal). I hope DOC do something about this as I wouldn't want to see Midway hut end up like Mangawhero. It's still worth a visit and I'd thoroughly recommend it.