Jumbo Holdsworth Circuit
This loop has been on my wish list for some time and with a cancelled South Island event I took the opportunity to give it a crack with some running friends.
The distance is 24km but it is quite a hefty run, we were expecting a big day out and it didn’t disappoint.
The first 7.5km of the run is lovely, nice undulating trail, beautiful bush, swing bridge crossings, and boardwalks. It takes you along the river until you hit Atiwhakatu Hut. This is a great out and back route, if you are after something you can run, as it is fun undulating terrain. From there things get really interesting, really fast! 2km of climbing, fun technical trail where roots form the steps up. You will use your arms a lot in this section and be prepared for it to take quite some time. The orange markers are easy to follow here up on the trees and the bush is beautiful.
Once you finally pop out from the bush you are greeted by spectacular views and you reach Jumbo Hut. A cute little hut with some wide steps for sitting on and resting your legs!
From Jumbo Hut the terrain changes, bush is replaced by hard scratchy tussock plants, everything is rugged. There are sharp rocks under feet and on a bad day you just know it would be extreme up there. You continue to follow the ridge along for some time, it is quite hard running as the tussocks obscure the trail and there are rocks to clip ankles and loose rocks to slip on. We even managed to find some boggy sections up there.
The last little climb up to Mt Holdsworth Trig is gnarly, but once you are up there you really do feel on top of the world, it is worth the little extra climb to touch the trig.
From the trig the trail eventually starts to head down, it is still hard going and takes way longer than you think to reach Powell hut, we even had to scramble down on our butts at some parts.
The last section from Powell hut to the start is where you can get some speed back up, there are quite a few stairs early on, but they disappear soon enough and it is gentle downward trail till the end.
We went as a group of 6 and stuck together for the whole distance, stopped for photos and had some food at Jumbo Hut, finishing just under 7hours. Although I really loved the circuit, I did find it a little frustrating as a run, due to the steepness of the terrain. But it is a really great day out and if the weather is good, you will be greeted by epic views. Be prepared if you take it on with plenty of gear, water and I wouldn’t head up there without a PLB.