Waihaha Hut, Pureora Forest Park
Saturday/Sunday September 20/21, 2014
One of New Zealand’s most significant conservation battles took place at Pureora in 1978. The protest led to the end of native forest logging in the park, and today we have an area where many huge rimu, totara, kahikatea and kamahi survive. It is a tree hugger’s paradise, and it’s heart-warming to know that the protest saved these trees.We started our tramp from the car park for Waihora Lagoon, which we had thought we would go and see, but the light rain changed our minds. We wanted to get going and into the bush. We had to walk through several mini lagoons on the farm track before it reaches the track proper.
The track descends to a small stream, and then climbs gently to the 3Ws junction; these being Waihora, Waihaha and Weraroa. The track is the Hauhungaroa track, and we headed south to Waihaha Hut.
We had a nifty tree trunk crossing, and then a climb up out of the stream (10 mins) before we were back on gentle easy walking.
The groves of huge native trees were great. In places, there had been a few tree falls, but we were very pleased to see that there are many young regenerating trees. We heard kaka (forest parrot), and the whop-whop of kereru. The Pureora Forest Park has kakariki, kokako, and karearea as well as tomtits, North Island robins, tui, bellbirds, fantails and wax-eyes.
One of the first things that you notice – different from the Kaweka FP and Ruahine FP – is that the leaves underfoot are a different shape. Not the small beech leaves but long, thin tawa leaves. There were lots of dark berries from the tawa trees. They look like small dark olives.From the verandah of Waihaha Hut, we could see an huge rimu with a lancewood growing out of its top.
When we arrived at Waihaha Hut, the two young men who had kindly driven the cars around had arrived via the Waihaha Track, started a fire and collected wood.
We were joined in the hut with a group from Hamilton; it is is a 10-bunk hut, and has enough floor space for 11 trampers. We enjoyed an evening with pancakes cooked by Paul, and the remains of two wine casks that a previous tramp party had kindly left behind.The Sunday weather changed to blue sky, and we had a leisurely walk out via the Waihaha Track, past interesting rock shapes formed by the Waihaha River, and looking at the regenerating celery pine on the hillsides opposite.
We returned to Napier replenished and satisfied that those protestors of long ago had saved a fabulous forest park, with its many easy walks.
Trampers: From Waihora Lagoon: Sue Martin, Alison Greer, reporter Julia Mackie, Lee Macdonald. From Waihaha: Paul Exeter and Ted Angove