Napier to Taupo Heritage Trail

The present sealed Napier-Taupo highway bears little resemblance to the pre-European walking trail. The track began when various Maori tribes from as far away as Taupo used it as a route to the coast where seafood was abundant.

The first European recorded to have travelled this way was Rev. William Colenso, an Anglican missionary, who walked the 80km from Napier to Tarawera in April 1847. In 1869 the building of Armed Constabulary stockades were commenced along the Napier-Taupo track to safeguard from the threat of the Hau Hau uprising. Constabulary men, together with local Maori, worked on developing the then bridletrack into a road using picks, shovels, wheelbarrows and horse drawn scoops. Armed Constabulary garrisons were maintained until 1886. 

In 1874 a two-day Napier-Taupo horse-drawn coach service began. The road was treacherous - in places steep and slippery, and there were 43 fords across the Esk River alone. A trip from Napier to Taupo required the best efforts of 30 horses, six teams of five horses being changed at Petane (Bay View), Te Pohue, Mohaka, Tarawera and Rangitaiki.

Significant Points

  • Bluff Hill
  • Port of Napier
  • Ahuriri Lagoon
  • Hawke's Bay Airport
  • Shipping Beacons
  • Onehunga Road
  • Bay View township
  • Eskdale War Memorial Church
  • Old Coach Road
  • Te Pohue
  • Titiokura Saddle
  • Mohaka River and Bridge
  • Te Haroto
  • Turangakumu Summit
  • Tarawera
  • Waipunga Falls
  • Rangitaiki Conservation Area
  • Rangitaiki Lodge
  • Kaingaroa Forest and Plains
  • Opepe
  • The Terraces Hotel

Trail Details

Travelling time direct - approximately 1hr 45min between the Napier and Taupo iSITE Visitor Centres.

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