Pikiariki Tractor Hauler Track

Pikiariki Tractor Hauler Track - Pureora Forest Park

Pikiariki Tractor Hauler Track

Pureora Forest Park

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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200 m return | 5 minutes return

The steam hauler (and old tractor) are nestled in the regenerating forest.


200 m from Barryville Road, a grassy track leads left.

Park on the grassy track by the sign.


The steam hauler (and old tractor) are nestled in the regenerating forest.

European History

Once the head and canopy of a tree had been cut from the trunk, chain were attached to the trunk via a set of solid steel bars with hooks on the end (dogs), which were hammered into the butt. Bullocks then hauled the log to the mill, but this hard work could only go for 4 hours a day. Bullocks were easily injured and logs were damaged. To reduce drag, small logs were placed crosswise in corduroyed skids. Later small sleds called catamarans were employed and the log was lifted using timber jacks.

However, once steam haulers were invented, the task became less burdensome. Two foundation logs were anchored solid to the ground and often cabled to a deadman. A boiler, steam engine and upto 3 winches were attached to the apparatus. Their drawback was that they were limited to the radius of the winch cable and needed fuel and water. Teams of 5 (a driver, cross cutter, breaker out and whistle boy), would attach a cable to the log and a return rope to complete the circuit.

Tramlines were often constructed through the forest, their tentacles extending as the cutting face retreated from the mill. Horses and bullocks would pull the logs on bogies running on the rails. From the 1870s steam locomotives were employed and by 1900 when there were over 300 mills operating in NZ, only a few used biological power.

Pureora forests were noted for the quality of their totara trees. Milling operations accelerated as development of Hatrick’s Wanganui paddle service along the river and the construction of the NIMTR linked Taumarunui to Te Kuiti. The Ongarue tramway eventually extended over 45 km and now forms part of the Timber Trail.

Pureora State Forest 96 was designated in 1935. A huge windstorm sometime between 1895 and 1915 toppled trees like matchsticks. After initial surveys, more than 300,000 quality strainer posts were cut from wind-thrown totara. Most were used in Lands Department schemes. Bullocks carted split posts to the forest edge, where they met trucks connecting to the railway. From 1945 Ned Barrett used a 2-ton Caterpillar tractor to pull them. This was later abandoned when it broke down in the 1940s and is now preserved as an industrial artefact.

From 1940s, 48 mills were operating in the King Country, with 2 at Pureora. By 1946, expansion plans for a further 3 mills brought plans for Pureora Village forward. 1965 figures showed the mills in the area (Ranginui, Maraeroa, Odlins) produced 3540-4720 m cube per year, while Carters mill at Barryville produced 7080 m cube per year. Life in the isolated Pureora settlement was tough, but strong community spirit knit the locals together. Bonds were strengthened when prohibition was lifted in 1955 and on the opening night the pub sold 392 gallons of beer.


Feature Value Info


DOC Waikato

Central government organisation


North IslandWaikatoTe Kuiti


  • Walking
  • Free


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DOC Managed

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 😍

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Cymen Crick