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This well presented track is a good introduction to the northern Te Urewera National Park. The comprehensive interpretation panels relate information on the 50,000 hectare Northern Te Urewera Ecosystem Restoration Project. This aims to restore the ‘mauri’ (life force) of the area by using the ‘Mainland Island’ concept. It is the largest of 6 such projects in New Zealand.
Waimana Valley is a remote access into Te Urewera National Park, leading from SH2 between Whakatane and Opotiki.
Turn into Bell Road (signposted Youth Camp) 9.2 km from the junction of SH2 and the Pacific Coast Highway (Wainui Road) near Kutarere.
As you pass deeper into the valley, the local fondness for collecting rusting vehicles becomes more apparent and satellite dishes adorn the well-weathered shacks.
After 10 km the road becomes unsealed and starts to wind through the narrow valley alongside the Waimana River. Fords are numerous and potholes common. The Waimana Valley follows a north trending fault line.
The Urewera Education Lodge is 27.3 km from SH2. The track starts opposite the lodge.
Many other routes for experienced trampers depart from the valley.
From the information panel by the lodge, there is a short steep climb through verdant tawa forest. The track evens out, passing interpretation panels on birds and the forest ecology, before dropping to the road (25 minutes). Immediately opposite, the track restarts, winding through the lush tree fern dominated gully alongside the Tauranga River (15 minutes).
Where the track rejoins the road, it is 5 minutes back to the lodge.
The indigenous forest ranges from lowland to subalpine. The lowland forest reaches its upper limit between 670 and 820 metres and is a rimu-rata/tawa-kamahi mix with kohekohe, nikau and kawakawa.
The process involves intensive predator trapping to reduce pest numbers, creating a ‘mainland island’ where bird populations can grow unhindered and the forest ecology can return to a more balanced equilibrium. Close monitoring and intensive management hope to refine techniques that can then be applied to other areas in the country.
The best place for a swim is just past the lodge, where there is a ford over the Tauranga River.
North Island ▷ Tairāwhiti Gisborne ▷ Opotiki
Basic facillities along the track, fantastic views of the lake. Need to be fit to complete in 3 days.
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Walking through different types of forest.
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 😍