Rotorua in the central North Island of New Zealand is infamous for its geothermal activity, with the lingering notes of sulphur in the air and its Maori heritage. What maybe isn’t as well known, is the Whakarewarewa or Redwoods Forest alongside the south of Lake Rotorua.
An interesting experiment…
During the early 20th century, foresters in the area were intrigued as to what northern hemisphere trees would grow in this part of the world, and planted over 170 species as part of an experiment. New Zealand trees tend to grow quite slowly and with an increase in settlers, wood was needed for building shelters and homes. With demand high, a nearby sawmill and quarry opened to meet the supply chain.
Becoming a Forest Park
Only a handful of these trees remain today, including the redwoods and native flora and fauna and the Whakarewarewa forest was made a Forest Park in 1987 due to its significance to the community in both historical and cultural reasons. What now remains is over 5600 hectares of forest to explore, by walking, mountain biking and even horse riding. The redwoods now make up 6 hectares of the overall forest with these mighty giants reaching skywards. The largest redwood in Rotorua stands at 72 metres tall and 169 centimetre in diameter (which is huge!). There are also vast numbers of ferns including the iconic ponga or silver fern.
The highlight of the park is the treewalk, with 28 suspension bridges elevated into the Californian Redwoods. Hanging around 27 redwoods up to 20 metres in the area and even more special is that it is open in the evening and it illuminated by 30 different lanterns representing the native wildlife. The tree walks in the part of the forest that has an entry fee to maintain the bridges and takes about 30 minutes.
There are numerous bike tracks from beginner to advanced to explore and there are quite a few places in Rotorua to hire mountain bikes from.
A haven for ecotourism and for everyone to enjoy whilst ensuring Manaakitanga (hospitality and trust) and Kaitiakitanga (guardianship of the forest). With so many adventures to have in Rotorua, why not enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the forest.