Kia Ora. Welcome to Ruapehu

Silica Rapids

Embark on a journey through enchanting beech forest, where the trail leads you past the junction for the Whakapapanui Track towards Silica Rapids.

Following your crossing of Whakapapanui Stream near the upper end of Whakapapa Holiday Park, the trail leads you through enchanting beech forest. Keep onward past the junction for the Whakapapanui Track, heading towards Silica Rapids. Before long, you'll come upon a lively stream boasting a striking golden hue from iron oxide clays washed down from upstream swamps. Alongside the trail, you'll encounter Coprosma, five finger, and broadleaf plants.

Exiting the forest, the path ascends to a marshy expanse adorned with wire rush, tangle fern, and red tussock. Ponds adjacent to the boardwalk provide habitat for freshwater crayfish (kōura). This elevated walkway not only enhances your comfort over soggy terrain but also safeguards delicate vegetation from the impacts of foot traffic. Take a moment to relish the panoramic mountain vistas from this vantage point.

Continuing past the junction for the Whakapapaiti Track, the trail traces the stream's course through dense foliage until reaching Punaruku Falls. Here, after periods of heavy rain, Tawhainui Stream cascades over an ancient lava flow. Metal bands encircling tree trunks protect mistletoe from possum damage along the trail. As you approach the forest's edge, you'll notice the transition from golden snow tōtara and olive-green bog pine to sun-loving alpine herbs and flowers such as mountain daisies, harebells, and ourisia.

Further uphill, the stream bed broadens into shallow terraces coated in creamy white deposits – the renowned Silica Rapids. Rich in aluminum and silicate minerals, the stream deposits these substances onto its bed as it gains velocity and becomes aerated while coursing through lava cliffs.

Continuing beyond the rapids, the trail ascends onto a tussock-covered lava flow. A small cluster of mountain beech and toatoa, visible a short distance up the slope, marks the uppermost reach of beech trees in the area. The trail then meanders through tussock grasses and sub-alpine shrubs.

Conclude your journey by retracing your steps along Bruce Road to return to the trailhead.