The Silica Rapids walk at Mt Ruapehu is an easy 4.7 km walk that will take you around 2 hours 10 mins. The start of the walk is just up the road from the Chateau in National Park. There is an excellent wooden viewing platform and seat to enjoy the stunning Silica Rapids.
In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.
The best starting point is 1.9km up the Bruce Road from the Chateau. This is because the walk will be a very easy downhill stroll from the rapids. If the Mountain Goat’s 4X4 bus is running to the top of Mt Bruce, ask the driver to let you off at the start of the Silica Rapids. Or take a good 35 minutes uphill walk along the sealed Bruce Road to the starting point. The start of the track is on the right hand side of the road as you drive up to the top of the Bruce. Excellent track to walk on, you will enjoy this walk and the fantastic view of the Tongariro Forest park and the tussock covered plateau, so long as the weather holds out for you.
After 25 minutes of easy walking, you walk into a valley of lava. Have a look at the amazing lava formation on your right before you walk over the bridge. And again if the weather permits look up the creek bed to see the top of Mt Ruapehu.
Around 30 minutes you should be dropping down in to the valley of the Silica Rapids. There is an excellent wooden viewing platform there for you to take seat, rest the feet and enjoy the view. Great photos can also be taken from the platform.
From the platform, follow the track down the valley and along the Silica Rapid creek. The track is very easy to follow and easy on the feet. Again just what I like, downhill all the way to the car park. Very peaceful walking through the mountain beech trees and ferns.
There are plenty of places for you to walk down to the Waikare Stream and take a photo or two. Plus cool off the feet in the ice cold water. The Whakapaiti Hut turnoff is on your left. A long 1 hour 45 minutes walk with river crossings. From Whakapaiti Hut, you can walk up the valley and then up a gut buster of a hill and back on to the Bruce Road, 1 hour. From the Bruce Road it is a long hard walk on sealed road back to Chateau. Straight ahead is the track to the Whakapapa Village just 40 minutes away.
Only 20 minutes to the Chateau. The golden rapids are made up of alumino silicate the same as the Silica Rapids. As the water becomes more turbulent it loses carbon dioxide. This creates ideal conditions for alumino silicate to be deposited on the rock.
How’s this for a view of Mt Ngauruhoe to the south and Mt Ruapehu to the east. Just be careful you don’t step off the board walk and sink in to the wet marsh!
This is where you need to pull out the book of NZ native ferns; we spotted 11 different verities in the last 200m of the walk.
At the car park, walk out to the main road. The national park HQ is just 50m down the road. We called in to the Chateau and found a comfortable arm chair in front of the roaring open log fire and enjoyed a glass of NZ wine. The fantastic view of Mt Ngauruhoe through the bay windows topped off our perfect day.
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