Roaring Stag Hut – Mangatainoka Valley, Wairarapa, New Zealand

Day One: Hiking into the Roaring Stag Hut

Roaring Stag Hut is located in the Northern section of the Tararua Ranges with the best access point east of Ekatahuna, Wairarapa. We started the walk at Putara Road end but it can also be started from SH2 at Mount Bruce. Being November, the weather is always going to be a bit risky but we ended up getting pretty lucky with the weather.

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The group fresh and ready to go!

As we arrived at the Putara Road end car park we came across a big group heading towards Roaring Stag Hut. The hut only sleeps 12 so we were already planning on a packing in like sardines when we learned that there was a big school group that had left half an hour before us! We were faced with a few different options here – either divert to Herepai hut or go Cattle Ridge Hut which would add an extra 2-3 hours of scampering up a very steep hill. Neither of these options sounded very appealing to us so we decided the best option was to get our  our skates on and try and be the first group to the hut and secure some beds! With almost all the DOC huts, it is a first in first serve policy, which definitely has its pros and cons!


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The first of a few decent swing bridges along the way


The first 40 minutes of the track was flat and easy as we made our way along the side of the river. After only a couple of minutes we arrived at the first swing bridge. These are a maximum of 1 person at a time so it gives everyone a chance to have a breather and take in the scenery.

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The beginning of the hard slog
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Taking in the view
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Man on a mission!


From this swing bridge, it was we started up the hardest part of the track – an hour of pure uphill, mud and slippery tree roots! You’ll notice the lack of photos here as Matt was more interested in trying to stay alive than taking photos! Thankfully though, our hard work paid off as we passed the first group half way up the hill (the looks on their faces as we passed them were ones to remember). The decision was made to power on to Roaring Stag and hope we all get a bed.

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Smiles all around as we made it to the top!
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Setting off down hill


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The last half of the track was really easy as it was a nice downhill gradient, although it was also incredibly muddy! Most of the time we were tip-toeing around ankle deep mud. After a while we got fed up with it and decided the best way was to go straight through the middle. We were super grateful of our water proof leather boots here, it always pays to come prepared!

Sammy showing off her good side!


We arrived at the hut almost exactly 3 hours after setting off. Boots came off, beds were claimed and it was straight down to the river for a nice relaxing dip in the river. After getting in, we’re not sure relaxing was the best way to put it, but it was definitely good for the muscles! We didn’t make it further around the river but we heard from another person we were staying with that there was an awesome rock slide just around the corner. So if you do brave the cold, make sure you check it out!


Beryl the Wilder Beast makes another appearance in the new Visitor Guide.



The Roaring Stag hut from across the river



The swing bridge the carries you on towards Cattle Ridge Hut.


There was a range of yummy food on offer for dinner including spaghetti bolognese, nachos and mac and cheese. We spent hours playing Monopoly Deal before sitting outside on the deck under the abundance of stars before heading to bed for a early sleep. There ended up being 19 of us in a 12 bed hut and it still didn’t feel cramped at all.

Chilling out in front of the hut

Day Two:

Day two began early with the sun streaming in- this was a relief seeing as we heard many patters of rain on the roof throughout the night. Most of us started our day with Sammy’s famous porridge mix however, for once we think it was outdone with 2 of our group cooking pancakes with maple syrup- yum!

Once we were dressed and had tidied the hut, we set off back up the valley towards the car park.

A well earned rest stop at the top of the hill

The dreaded hill was far easier coming back up the other way, before we knew it we had made it to the top again. After a quick feed and water we headed off destined for the carpark.

Back across the big swing bridge


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The last bridge – on the homeward stretch!

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Retracing out steps on the map
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The dream team. Such an awesome weekend!

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