1 Main Range S-K (Schormann to Kaitoke) Information


Revered and feared by many experienced trampers and mountain runners this is the most tough challenge in the Tararuas.First accomplished in 1963 (1963 was first recorded trip in a weekend, but not the first trip of the route -1931 for a tramping party, possibly before that unrecorded) ) in those days the route took them up the Shormanns track to Putara hut near the Putara road end .Putara hut was burnt down in 1977 and was replaced with Herepai in hut. Schormanns track was closed but the name stuck.

Route description

Elevation gain:  6800 m

Distance: 77km-82km (Dep on whose Garmin you believe)

Link to 3d map



S-K Traverse





Traversing the western range from the Dundas Ridge, down the Southern Main Range finishing with the Southern Crossing.  It is this third route that is considered to be the most challenging due to it’s length, total vertical climb and general exposure to the elements.


Point Thurlow Goldsworthy Rolfe Swal/Pid Bix/Guise  Tim Sutton Shelton/Beckingsale
Herepai(5k/644m) 50 75 73 54  64  56  67
East Peak(3.5k/637m) 72 65 65 43 66  64  72
Dundas(7.2k/(827m) 140 110 105 130  123  136
Arete(3.5k/321m) 52 55 55 326(detour!) 53  54  67
Drac Biv(6.1k/439m) 75 90 80 75 71  78  80
Nichols(5.3k/780m) 105 100 105 104 94  100  102
Andersons(6.2k/477m) 101 100 80 70  77  84  85
Aokap(5.4k/580m) 95 100 95  92  91  95
Maungahuka(4.7k/504m) 85 85 81 154  76  78  85
Kime(9k/1000m) 170 165 158 135  169  151  175
Alpha(8.1k/600m) 166 140 120 119  127  126  143
Block XVI(5k) 92  90  102  120
Kaitoke(11.7k) 368 340 291 160  184  247  177
Breaks 52 105 71  0
Total Time  25hr47  25hr30  22hr59 22hr12  21hr33  22h34  23h26m

Point Helm  Beaumont  Allen Garret/MCutch   
Herepai(5k/644m) 65  62  56
East Peak(3.5k/637m) 80  88  58
Dundas(7.2k/(827m) 147  287  127  80
Arete(3.5k/321m) 69  98  52  72
Drac Biv(6.1k/439m) 97  86 73
Nichols(5.3k/780m) 90  189  109 75
Andersons(6.2k/477m) 74  79  78 65
Aokap(5.4k/580m) 97  89 78
Maungahuka(4.7k/504m) 82  172  81  63
Kime(9k/1000m) 163  162 139
Alpha(8.1k/600m) 185  317  138  128
Block XVI(5k)  103  130  78
Kaitoke(11.7k) 182  282  193  148
Total Time  23hr54  23h42m  23h43m  18h15m

S-K Water

Water re-supply….Herepai, Dundas (But its a big drop down then climb back to main ridge)Drac Biv (Herepai to Drac biv long 6 hour section with no water if you dont drop to Dundas) , Nichols (If you drop down but only a quick drop and climb) Andersons, Mangahuka, Kime, Alpha

S-K Bail Outs

Junction Knob via Waitawaewae to Otaki Forks

Kime Hut  to Otaki Forks via Field Hut

S-K By Section

S-K Stage 1-3 time ranges per section as per 24 hour as by previous attemptees up to 2015

Stage 1 Herepai Alt 700m Dist 4.5 km Desc: Open DOC track well formed climbs from road to.Herepai,

Stage 2 East Peak Alt 1200m Dist 3.2  km Desc: This where it gets rugged . No formed track more of a route , cairns and ridges.

Stage 3 Dundas Alt 1400m Dist 6.2  km Desc: As above…gets quite narrow and ridgy slow going.Stage 1-3

S-K Stage 4-5

Stage 4 Arete Alt 1400m Dist 6 km Desc: Lovely open. Amazing views. Still more of a route than track.

Stage 5 Drac Biv Alt 1200m Dist   7 km Desc: Well formed DOC track drops down through bush.


 S-K Stage 6

Stage 6  Nicholls Alt 1100m Dist   4 km Desc:Through the bush to you climb back onto tops and Nichols.


 S-K Stage 7

Stage 7  Andersons Alt 1300m Dist   4 km Desc: Lovely open part of route not too steep and great in clear weather.


 S-K Stage 8

Stage 8  Aokap Alt 1300m Dist   4 km Desc: Generally open …Be careful to get nav correct at Aokap. It is quite exposed open section with not that many markers or cairns. Can be tricky in clag…Suggest gps or good map compass work here.


S-K Stage 9-10

Stage 9  Mangahuka Alt 1000m Dist   6 km Desc: This is the section that reallys starts to test .The Main SMR (Southern Main Range )proper. It gets more gnarly (Not as bad as Nth Tararua but more walky climby than runny). That applies to whole SK really….

Stage 10  Kime Alt 1300m Dist   10 km Desc: This is the key section of whole SK for me. It involves The Taraua ladder ! Things to watch out for …

As you leave Maungahuka you will reach an intersection that goes left down to Neil Forks or right along to the ladder.Make sure you do not take the left down to Neil Forks! It is not v well signed so check your gps here..(Its just above Maungahuka hut lip as you heading towards ladder.

The actual intersection you need to turn right at is about 50m before the intersection sign! Follow this track into the hallowed peaks…chains will start and out of the mist you will spot the amazing frame of a ladder rising high to a big dome.

Tararua Ladder! A rite of passage!

Climb the ladder…turn right at top of ladder ! Never go left at the top….(I did once i would not recommend)

You will not see where to go until top of ladder there is a narrow walkway… to the right…follow that it sidles around the face to more chains….Once you are up and over this section you are on your main SMR proper to Bridge Peak.

The SMR to Bridge Peak is the toughest section for me. It is endless climbs esp last climb to Bridge Peak. When you have got to top you know the worst is over.At Bridge Peak intersection….

‘Turn right for shopping Left for Glory’


S-K Stage 11-12

Stage 11  Alpha Alt 1200m Dist   8 km Desc: Climbs . Bit gnarly, Finally opens up as you get towards Alpha.

Stage 12  Block XVI Alt 900m Dist   6 km Desc: Welcome to the Marchant Ridge! It will go on and on and on. Roots …..and more roots and more roots…..


S-K Stage 13

Stage 13  Kaitoke Alt 400m Dist   11 km Desc: As above until it opens up a bit near the end and hits the DOC track and last few k to the end….


S-K Main Range Profile


Main Range S-K Route map

Map scale AO

Map scale A3

Links to printable high res maps






Image Gallery

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