Forest Tower

Forest Tower

Pureora Forest Park


2 Rankers Reviews

0 Face-to-Face

2 Te Kuiti

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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Looking out from the tower
Looking down from the tower


600 m return | 10 minutes return

Get high into the canopy with this forest tower. A rare glimpse at the life of a bird. The forest giants still tower way above you.


From the junction with Barryville Road, follow Pikiariki Road for 2.3 km.

Just after the historic Caterpillar and log hauler take the unmarked road on the left. After 200 metres the road ends and the track starts.

NOTE - The access road has narrow and should you meet someone going the other way, there's very limited pull over sections for larger vehicles.


The old metalled logging road has interpretation signs on the forest ecology, depending on where in the tiered system the plant grows.

As you climb the 12-metre tower this becomes visually apparent. At the top of the fourth flight of stairs you share the canopy with kaka, while the giant podocarps tower above.


There are a combination of factors contributing to Pureora’s uniqueness. The climate is superhumid, therefore there is low loss of moisture through evapotranspiration. The abundant rainfall nourishes a high species diversity in a localised area. Eight ash showers in the last 10,000 years have formed light, freely drained pumiceous loam soils, which can support high densities of vegetation. Volcanic activity has also levelled forests, creating new soil for vigorous recolonisation.


The podocarps are a family of trees, whose lineage stretches back over 200 million years. They evolved before the appearance of flowering plants and are distinguished by a succulent foot like appendage on the seed. The antiquity, complexity and grandeur of the Whirinaki Forest makes it virtually unique in the New Zealand and global contexts. Nowhere else is there such density of massive rimu, matai, miro, totara, northern rata and kahikatea. These species were flourishing on Gondwanaland, the supercontinent that existed as an amalgamation of today’s Southern hemisphere landmasses. Dinosaurs roamed through a forest with a very similar make up.

The primary canopy is complete, old and virtually closed. The foliage of the sub-canopy also shades the forest floor, so the interior is devoid of substantial seasonal fluctuations. Empires of epiphytes and twisted liana bejewel the branches and trunks of their hosts. The evergreen leaves and honey-green of the dominant tawa sub-canopy filter through a sublime light.

The altitudinal range of Pureora displays a textbook succession of forest types. Dense podocarp forest to gives way to medium density podocarp forest and hardwood species. At higher altitudes, mixed podocarp-beech then merges to beech forest at the tops of the hills.

Polynesian History

Due to the inaccessibility of the high inland area, little permanent settlement has been noted. However they were highly prized hunting areas, mainly for moa.

European History

The government of the 1970s decided this priceless forest should be logged for the short-term economic gains of a small community. The plans for destruction came as part of a wholesale policy to exploit the native timber resources of the entire country. Colin Moyle, the then Minister of Forests, proposed an international tender for logging, chipping and pulping of South Island beech forests. These ludicrous ideas prompted the Native Forests Action Council to submit a petition with 341,160 signatures to the government in 1976 – the largest petition New Zealand has ever witnessed. In 1978 Pureora Forest was saved from loggers by activists sitting in the branch clefts of similarly massive podocarps.


Feature Value Info


DOC Waikato

Central government organisation


North IslandWaikatoTe Kuiti


  • Walking
  • Free


Sam's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

Hard to find along rough gravel road, it is sign posted. Follow barryville road until you see sign “Forrest Tower” Very lovely to be up in the canopy of surrounded by ancient trees. Didn’t see any birds from tower except one kaka flying past. Very short and lovely walk - I would definitely come back!

Reviewed over 2 years ago

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Each camping location is approved by a regional council in NZ. So if it shows on the map, you’re allowed to stay.

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Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

This was completely un-expected. I like trees. I like birds. And I appreciate being able to be with them, without a crowd. All those boxes ticked :) It's a very short walk and we had tame North Island Robins following us for most of it. The tower climb got us into the canopy and it quickly became all about the trees and the plentiful (and boisterous) kaka. They really made themselves known. Without the birdlife, this walk wouldn't rate as highly, but I get the feeling that there's so many of those playful Kaka hanging about, that our experience wasn't a one off.
NOTE - The access is narrow and not very suitable for larger campervans. There's very few pull over areas should some-one be driving the other way. Luckily not many people seem to visit this place.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

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Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner