Holdsworth is a walkers paradise, with wondrous walking tracks and astounding back-country scenery, this is a fabulous place to hike.
Holdsworth is located in the Tararua Forest Park, west of Masterton. A popular destination for trampers, campers and picnic goers. There are numerous walking options from 30 minutes to multi-day tramping…something for everyone.
We have 3 stunning walking suggestions; one easy…The picturesque Atiwhakatu Valley Walk. The 2nd is harder which offers a great challenge for the fitter walker…The Mount Holdsworth Summit Walk. Our 3rd is the Mountain House Loop Walk, also known as the Hooper Loop amongst trail runners or the Gentle Annie/Atiwhakatu Stream Loop, which I will share with you here.
This is a wonderful walk with magnificent views and scenic bushwalking. The Mountain House Loop Walk incorporates both the Mount Holdsworth and Atiwhakatu Valley walks. The track is a well-benched track with the exception of the River Ridge Track which connects the Atiwhakatu Valley with the Mountain House Shelter. This track is rooty and steep if you’re prone to sore knees or have difficulty descending on this type of terrain, I suggest doing this walk in reverse and walking up this track.
Allow 3-4 hours for the 11.4-kilometre loop.
Mount Holdsworth Car Park to Rocky Lookout 3 km, 45 minutes to 1.5 hours
From the carpark follow the gravel track to Holdsworth Lodge, 2 minutes. From the lodge continue on and take the footbridge across the Atiwhakatu Stream, this gives a picturesque view of the stream and a great spot for a photo. Once across follow the track through the towering Rimu and Northern Rata trees, there’s a nice mixture of trees and ferns here. Also prominent is the Red and Silver Beech. 15 minutes of walking brings you to the first track junction. Take the track to the left indicating Rocky Lookout and Powel Hut. From here the track climbs gently on a well-benched track. DOC has done a fantastic job with the tracks in the Holdsworth area. If you’re new to this area of the Tararua’s, the tracks off and beyond this area are tramping tracks and require good hiking boots. Allow 30 to 75 minutes for the climb to Rocky Lookout. From here there are great views as far north as Mt Mitre and to the west, Powell Hut and Mount Holdsworth. There are also excellent views of the Atiwhakatu Valley and out to the Wairarapa.
Rocky Lookout to Mountain House Shelter 45 minutes to 1.25 hours
From the lookout return to the main track and continue on towards the Totara Flats and Powell Hut junctions. The track isn’t as steep on this section and meanders through lovely beech forest to the junction. Allow 30 to 45 minutes for this section.
The junction has benches to sit on and a nice spot for a rest. Take the track to the right indicating Mountain House Shelter and Powell Hut. After 5-10 minutes, the track emerges from the bush to a clearing, which crosses pig flat on boardwalks. This area offers great views of Powell Hut and Mount Holdsworth. Not much further is the Atiwhakatu Valley junction. Continue onto the Mountain House Shelter 2-5 minutes.
Mountain House Shelter to Holdsworth Car Park 5.5 km, 2 hours
Return to the Atiwhakatu Valley junction and take the track to the left. This track descends steeply to the Atiwhakatu Stream. As mentioned above, this track is rooty, so if you have difficulty descending this type of terrain, I suggest doing the walk in reverse. Allow 30 to 45 minutes for this section.
Atiwhakatu to Holdsworth Car Park 4km, 1-1.5 hours
This session of the walk is stunning, the track sidles above the Atiwhakatu Stream offering views of the valley and peaks above. There are a couple of footbridges over side streams and a lovely section of bushwalking before descending to the next junction. Take the track to the left indicating Donnelly Flats, this is a popular camping and picnic area. From here it’s a short walk to the next junction and the completion of the loop. Continue to the left finishing your walk through the towering Rimu and Northern Rata trees, cross the footbridge and then onto the carpark.
Turn off State Highway 2, just south of Masterton onto Norfolk Road. This road becomes Mt Holdsworth Road, continue following for 15km’s until its end. Here you will find camping grounds and toilet facilities. For more information on facilities and camping fees, check-out Holdsworth Camping. For hot showers and a little more comfort Holdsworth Lodge is another option.
For other accommodation in the Wairarapa or Wellington regions, I use Booking.com and Cheap hotels for all my accommodation needs and have found them very good; Check out what they have to offer.
What to Take
I suggest taking some warm clothes, food and drink. Take plenty of water, there is no-where to refill drink bottles until you return to the Atiwhakatu Valley.
- A waterproof jacket or raincoat
- Sturdy and comfortable footwear
- Thermal and fleece clothing for warmth
- Hat and gloves
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- An Emergency First Aid Kit
- A map
Find out more today
For more information on what to bring on the Mount House Loop Walk and other great day walks in New Zealand. Check our blog on what to take hiking.
To print the above map, click on Mountain House Loop highlighted at the top of the map. The printing and PDF option at the bottom of this page will print or download the post except for the map. Once selected, choose actions to print the map. This map gives great information for getting to the start of the track, however, it’s only a guide of the route, for more detail on the track click on the topomap below, and this can also be printed.
For more information on where the ascents and descents are. Plus the distance and height at any point on the map, click on Mountain House Loop highlighted at the top of the map. This will enlarge the map. Then click the box to show elevation, the graph will appear below the map. Run your cursor over the elevation graph, this will display on the map where the ascents and descents are. It will also give you the distance and height at any point on the map. It’s a useful tool for planning your walk. The topomap below gives similar information, especially the ascents and descents. However, you need to know how to read those maps to get that information. The mapometer map gives you that information and more by simply moving the cursor over the graph.
Expect some variation in times depending on conditions and personal fitness levels. I’ve graded this a medium walk. A good level of fitness is needed. The Gentle Annie track ascents 300 metres from the first track junction to the Rocky Lookout and is the steepest climb of the walk. The track is a well-benched track with the exception of the river ridge track which is rooty and steep. I recommend wearing tramping boots.
The total walking time is between 3 and 4 hours.
Enjoy your walk and feel free to leave any suggestions or comments?
Learn more about NZ’s amazing walks!
Interested in seeing more of the country’s incredible natural beauty? Take a look around the website to learn about other outdoor adventures, such as the Nelson Lakes National Park. It’s the only way to truly see New Zealand!
Thank you so much! I have been waiting for some more updates on this blog and ideas on more tracks! 🙂
My friends and I have done some of the walks you mentioned in your blog and we are looking forward to do some more especially the Lake Waikaremoana….
Thank you for leaving a message. Pleased to hear you’re enjoying my site. I plan to add many more walks…spent most of the summer tramping in the South Island, so watch out for those. Have a great day and happy hiking.