Redwoods at Te Mata Park

Among the fascinating items in March’s Wings and Wildlife, prepared by Jessica Maxwell, is her ‘tour’ of the trails in Te Mata Park. Here is her article. [You can download the entire March edition here.]

Te Mata Park

Te Mata Park was gifted to the community in perpetuity in 1927 by Bernard, John and Mason Chambers, sons of the original landowner, John Chambers. 

Apart from the amazing 360° views from the car park and trig at the top of Te Mata Peak, there is a range of walking tracks within the park which cater for the reasonably fit to the very fit. It pays to wear suitable footwear. 

There is good signage at the main carpark to help you get your bearings for all the tracks and the Trust’s website has detailed maps. 

PĪWAKAWAKA LOOP: This well-formed track, which is suitable for most ages and abilities, is 1.3 kms long and takes around 40 minutes to complete. It starts off at the main carpark entrance in Te Mata Peak Road and is named after the lively little fantails which flit about in close proximity to visitors, who disturb insects with their footsteps as they walk along the track. 

BIG REDWOODS TRACK: An Intermediate Grade track of 2.7 kms, suitable for people who are moderately fit. The track is generally well-formed with some rough sections, some simple switchbacks and inclines. The walk through the giant trees, which were planted in 1927, (some now measuring 40 metres in height), makes a perfect spot for a picnic. Allow around an hour. 

KARAKA WANDER: Another Intermediate Grade track, this time 4 kms, which is described as ‘a wonderful wander through the varied landscapes of the upper part of the park – mature trees, native bush and open grassland to dramatic cliffs and panoramic views.’ The track passes through a large grove of Karaka trees, believed to be at least two hundred years old. Allow 1 ¼ hours. 

RONGOKAKO TRAIL: An advanced and challenging trail covering 5.5 kms, which is suitable for people who enjoy moderate to high levels of fitness. This track goes through the Big Redwoods to the very top of the peak and includes the locals’ favourite ‘Goat Track’, the Peak Summit and travels over the Millennium Planting. At times, the track can be unformed, muddy, uneven and steep. Some areas have high cliffs and extreme drop-offs, so care is needed. 

GIANT CIRCUIT: A big loop trail similar to the Rongokako Trail, covering 5.4 kms, best walked anti-clockwise. This advanced track should only be attempted by people who are fit. Needless to say, the views along the way and from the top are amazing and well worth the physical effort of getting there. 

TIPUNA FOOTSTEP: Established in 2020, following the purchase of adjoining land beside Te Mata Peak Road, this meandering limestone track connects the main entrance to the park to the carpark at Tauroa Road. Not too demanding, it is suitable for those who are moderately fit. Enjoy spectacular vistas across the fertile Heretaunga Plains towards the ranges, Mahia Peninsula and, on a clear day, you’ll be able to see Mt Ruapehu. 

RONGOĀ GARDENS: This award-winning area beside the main entrance was opened last October and celebrates rongoā Māori, the traditional healing system of Māori, encompassing herbal remedies, physical therapies and spiritual healing. The Trust grows medicinal and beneficial native plants, maintaining a valuable resource for the whenua of Te Matau a Māui to learn about rongoā Māori. Still under development, stroll through the garden and take time out of your day to be at one with nature. 

The Sleeping Giant

Here’s a preview of March Wings and Wildlife‘s full content, brimming with photos. You can download the entire edition here.

Neil Eagles

Apart from featuring Te Mata Park … Soft plastics are being collected and put to good use; Vicky McKay from Viks Rescue has lots of kittens available. A new book by Neil Eagles records the history of Napier Branch of Forest and Bird since 1956. If you’re visiting Hamilton, the zoo is well worth a visit. SAFE explains how the Animal Welfare Act is failing animals. And Hans Rook, NZOM shares his knowledge at the Ahuriri Estuary Protection Society’s summer picnic.


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