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Scenic

Highlights from Opotiki through to Gisborne

Te Urewera National Park is the third largest in New Zealand extending over some 225,000ha and is the largest untouched native forest area remaining in the North Island, home to the well known Lake Waikaremoana. Few places in New Zealand have such a wide botanical variation as is found in Te Urewera National Park. It ranges from luxuriant kohekohe forest in the lowland to mountain beech on the mountain tops. Birdlife, although not obvious at first, is plentiful and up to thirty-five fully protected native species may be seen or heard.

New Zealand’s only two native land mammals, both species of bats, occur in this park. They are strictly protected. Skinks and geckos are also found here.

The lakes and rivers of Te Urewera National Park contain some of the finest waters for trout in New Zealand. Trout were first introduced here in 1896 when brown and rainbow trout were released at Onepoto. Because of easy access most anglers are attracted to the lakes but for those who prefer the solitude of more remote areas many Urewera rivers provide excellent fishing.

From pre-European days the Urewera area has been the home of the Tuhoe who learned to live in harmony with the dense native forest and the harsh conditions. Because of the environment and its isolation this area became a stronghold of the Tuhoe who guarded it fiercely and have been able to retain their separate identity longer than most other tribes.

Situated near the north eastern end of the Raukumara Range is a group of imposing mountain peaks, Hikurangi, Whanokao, Aorangi, Wharekia and Taitai, which may be viewed to the west of SH 35 between Te Puia and Tikitiki.

Although this area is considered to be geologically complex it is generally accepted that the summit rocks of Aorangi, Wharekia and Taitai are the erosional remnants of individual hard sandstone bodies which were originally deposited within mudstone. They occupy their present position largely as a result of uplift, while erosion has sculpted the mountains into their present form. Of the group, Hikurangi has had less geological investigation and at present is considered to be structurally different while no detailed geological study of Whanokao has been undertaken.

Tokomaru Bay is 92km north of Gisborne on State Highway 35. The district was originally known as Toka-a-namu but over the years this has been altered to Tokomaru Bay. The area is renowned for its scenery, beaches and fishing and is the craft centre for the East Coast where the Waiapu Community Arts Council is located.