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There are two marker systems.  One for each of the main trails.  Both use the same colour coding.

BLUE      NORTH bound     

On the main, trail white marker posts are used.
On the harder trail in the coastal strip, marker tags are attached to the trees. (These begin/end at Temu Rd)

Te Ara Raranga

Markers on Te Arararanga are plastic road markers with Blue or Yellow horse and walker symbols. 
These markers may contain some additional information such as:
Blue North bound Mission Rd crossing
the name of a forestry road you are crossing.  All forestry roads will be at right angles to the trail, this gives you an idea of how far you are and a location if you need emergency help.
The photo left shows that you are heading north (blue) and crossing Mission Rd.
You may also find km markers on some.  These numbers ARE NOT kms travelled on the trail.  This information is for emergency services, so that they know how far up Coast Rd to drive to locate you.. 
This information is ONLY found on
Marker pole with additional info. The Kms are approx how far north you are from Old Telephone Track (this is to help in case of emergency not as a distance travelled)  Warning signs tell you that an ATV crossing is ahead.
Northbound trail markers (as there is no access for vehicles from Rimmer Rd)  and gives an approximate number of kilometres north of Old Telephone Track if travelling on Coast Rd.
UPDATE OCT 2014 - ATV Trails no longer active! 

Te Ara Haruru

Markers on Te Araharuru are tree markers, that are either blue or yellow chevrons (arrows) with horse\walker symbols on them.
All markers use
Blue > Northbound, or
Yellow > Southbound
 These markers do not contain any additional information on them,  But additional signage may sit alongside them to give you guidance e.g. Hoiho signs or trail warnings.