When we departed Waitomo, New Zealand, we set out on Highway 30 for our next stop–Rotorua (2 hrs 15 minutes away). We chose this Southern Route because we thought it was would be more scenic than tracking back up North from the way we had come. Going along Highway 30 also allowed us to swing right past Pureora Forest Park–offering a beautiful spot to take a lunch break and get out and hike!
We found a great online brochure on the Pureora Forest Park, which showed us that an easily accessible walk was located just South of the Highway. We pulled off at Maraeroa Road, and followed the signs to the Totara Walk.
The brochure explains: “This easy loop walk winds its way among the awe inspiring giant trees for which Pureora is famous. Ferns grow in abundance and if you are lucky, you may hear or see native birds such as tūī, fantails, tomtits, wax-eyes, kererū/kūkū or kākā. Glow worms can be seen at night. (The Timber Trail starts beside the Totara Walk—see C1 over page.)”
The Timber Trail that it refers to is a 1-2 day cycling trail, so we watched cyclers coming and going with their gear–from the same shared parking lot.
We pulled out some sarongs, pulled out a picnic of hummus and kiwi fruit (we are in New Zealand, after all), and the kids did some sword/stick-fighting while I nursed the baby.
On the trail, we found a densely forested walk that was pure lush green. It was easy/flat enough that we could have used a stroller.
There were informational placards along the way that identified plants, trees and insects. We learned that around 18,000 insects are found only in New Zealand–and much like the kiwi bird–many of them don’t fly! For every type of bird in New Zealand there are about 200 kinds of insects.
The terrain was covered in these fern trees–which I find fascinating! The trunk is a giant conglomerate of tree-like ferns that grow to the top and then spread out into a huge canopy.
Green, green and GREEN–That’s a New Zealand forest in a nutshell!
There’s green growth everywhere! Off the sides of trees, on branches, etc. A carpet of green covers the entire landscape and tempts you to touch nearly every branch you pass.
Some of my kids even decided to wear the greenery…
Other people in our family simply wear babies (i.e. me)…
Do your kids drag branches and dead limbs around?
Yeah? Whew. Mine, too…
After the 30 minute walk (which is always decidedly longer with children), we tried to follow the map and make our way to The Buried Forest (or Forest Tower or Vintage Steam Hauler and Tractor) that was nearby, but we were unable to locate any signs pointing us the right direction. After driving for 20 minutes along unmarked roads in the park, we opted to hightail it out of there and get on our way to Rotorua!
Visiting The Pureora Forest Park was the perfect way to break up our drive, as well as experience some of the national park. The Totara Walk trail was easily accessible, and very quiet (unlike the Timber Train next door, which had lots of activity). For those that are looking for cycling in New Zealand, the Pureora Forst Park is a highly reviewed area on the North Island! You can even rent huts for overnight use, at very affordable prices ($5/adult, $2.50/youth).