Walks in Rotorua by Denis Dwyer

    Walks in Rotorua by Denis Dwyer

    In his book New Zealand on Foot, Denis Dwyer sets off to see his country afresh in a series of great day walks. Featuring Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest, the Blue and Green Lakes and the Buried Village at Te Wairoa, Denis writes below about experience in Rotorua.

    There is something uplifting about walking in a forest, and nowhere more so than in a stand of Sequoia sempervirens, the California redwood. Rotorua has the magnificent Whakarewarewa Forest on its doorstep and at one of the entrances, just 3 km from the city centre on Tarawera Road, are the redwoods. I have read that redwoods planted in New Zealand have higher growth rates than those in California because of more even rainfall through the year. This species has the tallest trees on earth so how amazingly high will these trees grow? They are hugely impressive already and they have been here for only a century or so as the forest was planted in 1899 to assess which trees could be grown successfully for timber in New Zealand.

    Denis Dwyer's book, New Zealand on Foot is available in all good bookshops and features Rotorua's Redwood Whakarewarewa Forest.

    On the day of my visit there was a reluctant walker there, a boy dragooned into the walk and punishing his family all the way by hurling curses into the canopy, kicking at the detritus on the forest floor and even punching a tree. The rest of us ignored him as best we could, with our attention anyway mostly on higher things, with the eyes drawn up and up. Better by far to let him walk where he wants, even to the nearest play station, until his own walking sap is flowing and he is happy to join the nature lovers. Custodians of school camps can sometimes be the best people to expose the young to the great outdoors, giving adrenalin rushes down torrents and into caves as well as moments of reflection. When he and his family left, the stand of redwoods was yet more impressive in the silence.
    From there, inspired already, I walked deeper into the forest amidst such a variety of plantings. Care is needed for the tracks are heaven for that modern-day adventurer, the mountain biker, and for others running or riding. Many could happily tramp all day in the richness of this forest but my aim as I walked New Zealand for my book New Zealand On Foot, was to do walks that enable people to break a journey and stretch the legs, or to go somewhere as a destination and walk for about one hour. From the forest I drove to the Blue Lake (Tikitapu) and the Green Lake (Rotokakahi) and walked around their edges, and then on to the Buried Village at Te Wairoa at the western end of Lake Tarawera. Once I owned a humble house on the shore of nearby Lake Okareka and so memories stirred of other ventures in that area. I had even, years before when my geography was hazy, walked from the city to Te Wairoa and anyone observing me at the end of the 30 km trek would have seen I was not ready for another gallop round the block.   
    There are so many good walks in this region, by lake or in bush, and in this part of the world there is the reward at the end of a walk of that most soporific thing, a dip in a spa pool.

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