Four Hour Family Walk

The next step in family hiking lies an hour-and-a-half from the capital city Wellington, in the magnificent Tararua Ranges.

That slightly more challenging family hike is becoming elusive. One that fits the bill is the four-hour Barra Track to Mitre Flats walk, on the Wairarapa side of the mountains, north of Wellington. The 7km track starts at the end of Upper Waingawa Road, close to the town of Masterton.

Car parking is to the side of the dirt road, where distinctive signs give a map overview.

The first 20 minutes of the hike are easy going on a farm road, following the middle reaches of the Waingawa River. This gives kids time to settle in before the tighter, more technical bush track. The shearing shed and stile at the bush boundary signal the start of the more exciting adventure and a tight single file track through the bush.

Many Tararua huts and tracks have great stories behind them. Barra Track is named after Bert Barra (1899-1993) a deer culling legend who exceeded 24,000 animals and often topped the seasonal tally for government shooters. Retiring in the early 1970s, Bert lived out his days in a simple hut with no power on the main route to Mount Mitre.

There are wonderful bush streams and waterfalls easily crossed with a bit of rock hopping. Some big slips down to the river add ‘wow’ to the journey.

The route is well blazed with orange arrows the kids can watch out for. Dropping quickly to the river, the end is marked by a swing bridge and the sight of the Mitre Flats Hut. The hut sleeps 14 and has a log fire. Staying the night requires tickets from the Masterton or Martinborough i-SITE visitor centres.

• take your own food, camping and cooking equipment
• tell someone when you’re going in and when you’re expected out
• there’s no cell phone reception so a GPS unit is recommended
• delay your trip if heavy rain is expected
• Hut Passes can be purchased from i-SITE Visitor Centres

For more things to do while you're visiting the Wairarapa head to When you're here be sure to call into one of our i-SITE's for advice and trip suggestions.

Masterton i-SITE
Cnr Bruce and Dixon Streets
+64 6 370 0900

Martinborough i-SITE
18 Kitchener Street
+64 6 306 5010