The still waters and forested rim blend in an inviting combination. It’s a calming place. Perfect to break up a journey on SH2.
Tracks are closed for lambing during August and September.
Lake Tutira is 45 km north of Napier along SH2. The start of the track is signposted form the main camping area by Lake Tutira, approximately 1 km from SH2.
The track is marked with poles (orange band on top) and crosses farmland for almost its entire length. From the northern end of the campground it is a steady climb along a reasonably defined farm track. Pass the picnic shelter and continue climbing to the junction with Pera’s Track (45 minutes). Behind you, even more spectacular views over Lake Tutira and the Maungaharuru Range unfold. The dip and scarp of the topography and mosaic of land uses form patterns on the landscape.
The gradient relents a little on the 1 hour to Table Mountain Trig (487 metres). The open pastures afford distant views in all directions and on clear days the Hawke Bay coast appears from Mahia Peninsula to Cape Kidnappers.
The track begins to drop, reaching the junction with the track to Ridgemount Road after 30 minutes. This short link to an alternative pick up point can be used if others in your party can drive around to collect you.
The gradient now steepens as you descend the ridge, entering plantations of radiata pine. The cattle track through the forest can be very uneven and muddy until the junction (45 minutes) with Galbraith’s Track (to the right) and Kahikanui Track (to the left).
Via Galbraith’s Track, you shortly exit the pines and follow the margin between forest and farmland. Lake Tutira is reached after 25 minutes and the track continues above the lakeshore vegetation. Before reaching the campground road, the track crosses an area of vegetation replanting, with flax, kahikatea and ti now recolonising the flats. It is only a short walk beside the lake back to the campground.
Together with its diminutive neighbour, Lake Waikopiro, the lakes covers nearly 500 hectares. They were formerly joined by a swamp, which became indecipherable when lake levels were high. Trout were released in the early 1900s, but numbers dwindled with the growth of oxygen weed in the 1960s. Plankton blooms as a result of aerial top dressing further deteriorated the water quality. Massive initiatives to reoxygenate the water focused on stirring up the lake bed sediment to encourage the propagation of native rushes, sedges and reeds. These have met with some success and today the waters are relatively clear and pristine.
Black swans were introduced from Australia in the 1880s and have now become naturalised to New Zealand. They inhabit Lake Tutira in large numbers. Black Teal are known as the ‘Gentlemen of the lake’ and were noted by Guthrie-Smith as being playful.
Maori used the lake to fish for tuna (eels) and constructed a pa site on the promontory known as Oporae. Middens on the upper banks are evidence of habitation. In 1873, 20,000 acres were leased by T.K Newton from Maori for £140 per year, but the station became run down due to trouble from the Hauhaus. Over the next decade it was sold several times, with infrastructure being added and the large paddocks being stocked with sheep.
Tutira Station was founded by William Herbert Guthrie-Smith, who was born in Helensburgh on the Clyde in Scotland and arrived in New Zealand in 1880. He bought adjacent tracts of land so by 1903 the 60,000 acre station ran 32,00 sheep. By 1907 the size reduced back to the original block of 21,000 acres and over the next 20 years was subdivided and leased.
In 1882, William Herbert Guthrie-Smith bought the land. As well as his farming duties, Guthrie-Smith was a keen naturalist, talented wildlife photographer, avid botanist and author. In 1911 he published Birds of the Water, Wood and Waste, which was followed in 1921 by his opus magna Tutira: The story of a New Zealand Sheep Station. This included a detailed description of the changes in vegetation due to sheep farming, landscape change, flooding, earthquakes and habitat destruction. His empathy with birds was lived out in his pet kereru, many of whom he nurtured from the station homestead.
The work is now seen as a classic in environmental history, one of the finest and most complete examinations of the minutiae of a particular location. It was far ahead of its time in terms of its attitudes towards conservation and environmentalism. Guthrie-Smith’s attention to detail, fascination with natural history and endearing style of writing have made the book world famous and planted the name ‘Tutira’ into common parlance.
North Island ▷ Hawkes Bay ▷ Tutira
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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 😍