A happy busload of Monday walkers headed off to start our all-day adventure at the Jim Barnett Reserve just south west of Putaruru. This reserve was purchased from the Barnett family in 1992 and is now maintained by a reserve management committee. Countless hours must have been spent by the volunteers from Forest & Bird, Putaruru Rotary, Putaruru walking group, South Waikato District Council and the Waotu community to keep such an amazing example of podocarp forest viable, thriving and accessible to the public. The story is told that in the 186 AD Lake Taupo¯ eruption a low hill diverted volcanic material from this strip of forest. The Ma¯ori named this Te Waotu tahi nga¯ ra¯kau — the tall forest left standing. What a reminder of how random nature’s destruction can be.
The Nga¯ti Kahupungapunga and later the Nga¯ti Raukawa enjoyed the resources the forest provided. Later in the 1900s to 1920s the valuable to¯tara and rimu were cut down and hauled through hand-dug wooden tramways by horses. The same tramways formed part of our walking track today. We admired the 1000 year old to¯tara, 2.5m in diameter and probably owing its survival to its branched top making it unsuitable for milling. There were many other native species to admire, including the karo with its beautiful nocturnal scent and the mangeao. A keruru¯ came to say goodbye at the track’s end, seemingly quite unfazed by humans.
After that flat and easy walk we headed to Jim’s Landing and walked to the Arapuni Dam.
A more taxing walk with a few steep hills to climb including up to a lookout with great views of the Waikato River.
We finished by venturing over the suspension bridge. Again with great views and a real appreciation of the labours of the workers who built that huge dam and station in 1929 with mainly manual labour. It is a half day walk next week.
If you would like to join us or for more information search Facebook for Taupo¯ Monday Walkers, phone David on 027 592 294 or email email@example.com.
Monday walkers gather by the sprocket next to the Waikato River during this week’s walk.