This varied walk is the best way to appreciate the diversity of the Boundary Stream Mainland Island. As the track drops from exposed upland forest to the more moist and humid valley flor, the vegetation sequence alters to suit the environment.
The start of the track is signposted along Pohokura Road. From Tutira Store, follow Matahoura Road for 5.5 km then bear left at the signpost. It is 10.2 km, mostly unsealed, to Boundary Stream Mainland Island, with a small parking area and nearby toilets.
Heay’s Access Road can be reached by turning right at the junction with Pohukura Road, 5.5 km from Tutira Store. Continue along Matahoura Road, which becomes unsealed. Heay’s Access Road is signposted on the left after a further 5.5 km and it is another 7.5 km to a parking area and picnic shelter on the roadside.
Look at the impressive interpretation panel with the map showing the track network. This will aid navigation.
It is easiest to attempt this walk from the Pohokura Road end as the gradient tends downhill (with a drop of 420 m in altitude). Others less energetic in your party can drive to Heay’s Access Road and walk to Shine Falls (see Heay’s Access Road to Shine Falls), set up the picnic by the falls and await your arrival.
Be vigilant watching for ongaonga, which grows close to the trackside in numerous places and also lurks by the picnic bench near Shine Falls.
From the junction at the apex of the Kamahi Loop Walk (see Kamahi Loop Walk) it is a 15 minute descent to Minnigaf Stream, the crossing of which may entail wet feet. Rewarewa forest with occasional kamahi and kanuka forms a dense low canopy and ferns carpet the forest floor.
The sound of Shine Falls beckons after 1¼ hours and the track begins to sidle the gorge the falls have created. The descent to the falls is steep and narrow and in places, reaching Boundary Stream 5 minutes from the falls. Watch for the nearby weta motels.
The abundance of kowhai flowers in spring is the hallmark of the spectacular section through the deep gorge to the boundary of the Scenic Reserve (20 minutes).
Exiting the Boundary Stream Mainland Island, the track crosses private farmland. The knobs of the landscape have been rounded through the actions of wind and water. Hollows and caves mottle the otherwise bare faces. These are wind formed and excavated as wind borne sand and grit particles eddy around weaknesses in the rock structure, enlarging them to sculpt the formations evident today.
Look for the Shining Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx lucidus lucidus), a diminutive bird with a metallic green back and black mottling on a white chest. They hijack the nests of the grey warbler after they have been vacated. These migrants arrive in New Zealand in late September and stay until early March, ceasing their singing in January. In winter they journey over 3000 km to the Bismark Archipelago and Solomon Islands.
Most tracks in Boundary Stream, including this one, were cut during the Depression to help musterers find wild stock. Bill Ashley was one such musterer, who used to spend up to 6 weeks at a time in the forest, with only a blanket, tarp, gun and bush skills for company. He remembered ‘being too tired to feel the mosquitoes’.
Boundary Stream formed the northern extremity of Tutira Station, formerly farmed by Guthrie-Smith, author of Tutira:The Story of a New Zealand Sheep Station. His far-sighted initiatives to conserve the natural flora and avifauna around him are themes that are echoed today in the Department of Conservation’s measures to restore the ecosystems at Boundary Stream Mainland Island.
The vision for the area is to “restore the forest by careful nurturing, forming a place were the public can visit and enjoy a flourishing fauna and flora reminiscent of a Hawke’s Bay forest of the past”. This mission is achieved by promoting the Mainland Island concept.
Whereas many offshore islands in New Zealand, such as Tiritiri Matangi or Kapiti Island, have been managed to save rare species from extinction, it is not always possible to provide habitat for all species on such islands. The Mainland Island concept uses the same pest control measures to aid the reintroduction of endangered species, but implements them on the mainland. This necessarily makes the resulting ecosystems more accessible to visitors.
Boundary Stream was selected on account of its high diversity of landscapes, geomorphological features and flora/fauna. It encompasses 800 hectares, a manageable and viable area, on the coastal side of the Maungahaururu Range. The altitudinal range from 300 metres to over 1000 metres above sea level promotes differing climatic conditions, which nurture varying forest communities. The ecosystems were relatively intact to provide a good base to build from and other nearby sites could relate useful comparison data.
Pre-human vegetation was a podocarp-broadleaf forest of tawa, kamahi, lacebark, mahoe, titoki, rewarewa with podocarp species including kahikatea, matai and miro. Red beech was dominant in some locations. The crest of the range supported ‘cloud cap’ forest with mountain holly, horopito, shield fern and broadleaf. The forests would have supported thriving communities of birds including kiwi, kokako and kaka.
Maori introduction of kiore and European introduction of possums, goats, deer, stoats, ferrets, weasels and pigs spelt devastation for the once vibrant forest ecosystem. Browsing of foliage and the resulting depletion in the health of the trees reduced the food sources available. Predation of chicks and competition for food decimated bird numbers so the forest became one of eerie silence. The sorry tale is one the Mainland Island concept at Boundary Stream aims at reversing.
650 bait stations are dotted over the reserve and concentrated around the perimeter. 700 Fenn traps and DOC200 traps arrest the reinvasion of stoats, ferrets and weasels. Possums and rat populations are almost non-existent and goats, pigs and deer are kept under control by contract hunters. Birds such as kokako, saddleback and kiwi have been reintroduced and populations are now thriving. Endangered plants such as kakabeak, yellow flowering mistletoe and neinei have also become established.
Many local groups such as schools, iwi and Forest and Bird branches have been involved in the restoration. Volunteers are rewarded with experiencing the forest as it once was. A visit to Boundary Stream can also give you a taste of the life that now abounds.
DoC have done a magnificent job in their provision of signs and interpretation panels, especially suited to children. The Tumanako Loop Walk is one of the most educational walks a family could attempt, threading through a memorable forest alive with species not normally encountered on the mainland.
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 😍