I concur with the previous reviews, having now taken both routes up Karioi 3 times, once from Te Toto and twice from the Ruapuke Rd end.
To "bag it" at the expense of views as you go, the latter approach is less arduous and infinitely quicker.
However for the drop dead "bore the friends with the photos" option, the western aspect has it in spades.
I did the latter in the middle of winter, and would do this again as a sunny, wind-still day can be dressed up for. I'm reasonably fit, have done other Waikato walks in significantly less than DOC recommended times.
However this return journey with only 30 mins at the summit and 10 at the "halfway" viewing point took me 7 hours.
Do heed the hiking boots recommendations, as well as the food and water, waterproof and warm clothing, decent backpack to haul it all in suggestions, as you need all your concentration for the chains and the root ramble just before the final summit push.
I have heard of others starting the climb from Te Toto and leaving another vehicle at the Ruapuke end, so it's not a loop.
This is eminently sensible as summit to Ruapuke Road still has stellar views when you emerge from the bush, and you can see your car in the farm carpark, to spur you on.
I was fortunate to meet up with a very friendly couple who encouraged me to continue as offered moral support from the first lookout (see photo) to the summit, otherwise I would have turned back, as it's still another fairly gruelling hour from there.
Be also aware that this approach has significant ups and downs both ways, unlike the Ruapuke way, where up is up and down is down!
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