Otanewainuku is 1200 hectares of unlogged forest that has been left alone to become a stunningly beautiful place. Visitors are treated to some of the most splendid examples of native flora including giant Rimu trees. Otanewainuku Forest is home to a variety of native birds, which have been carefully nurtured under the watchful eye of the Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust since 2002.
The main focus though, is of course the glorious mountain, Mt Otanewainuku. The views from the summit are absolutely serene. There is a wooden tower on the summit (640 metres) that offers panoramic views right from the East Cape through to Mount Tarawera and Rotorua. You can then cast your eyes across the Mamaku Plateau to Mount Ruapehu.
Otanewainuku Forest as a whole consists of three different walking tracks:
Otanewainuku Summit Track
Mt Otanewainuku has a summit of 640m. This loop track has a trig station at the summit that is used as a viewing platform. The views from the summit are both stunning and panoramic. You are able to see right from the East Cape through to Mount Tarawera and Rotorua, as well as being able to cast your eyes across the Mamaku Plateau to Mount Ruapehu.
This track provides a wondrous journey through an age old unlogged forest. The flora and fauna is absolutely breath-taking. If you’re one to love nature, this walk is a must for you. The track is quite steep in places and requires a somewhat reasonable level of fitness.
Along this walk you will find yourself marveling at the size of some of the Rimu as well as other trees. You also have the possibility of seeing/hearing some of the New Zealand native bird life. The bird life you will have a chance of seeing would most likely consist of North Island Bush Robin, Fantails, Tui’s and the like.
Time: 2 Hours Return
Rimu Loop Track
The Rimu loop track begins on the car park edge, on the opposite side of the road from the shelter. This track is gently graded and allows for relatively easy walking. Many features along this walk include seeing some massively large Rimu trees. You may also hear or even see some of the native birds that live in this beautiful forest.
The Rimu loop track finishes back at the road, a hundred or so meters North West of the starting point.
Time: 45 Minutes
Whataroa Falls track roughly takes40 minutes to reach from Tauranga. The track splits off from the Rimu Loop track about 15 minutes in. This well-marked track leads you through the forest until you are met with the sound of running water. When you hear the stream, you know you are close to Whataroa Falls.
Upon reaching Whataroa Falls, pick a spot to relax after the walk. Have a picnic and perhaps if you’re keen, go for a swim in the refreshingly beautiful swimming hole. Enjoy exploring the stream, cascades and pools in a purely natural setting. Return is back the same way.
Beyond the Whataroa Falls, extends a track that carries on north through to the main ridge track which leads to Otawa Scenic Reserve. The length of this track is around 18.5 km or 9 hours to Upper Papamoa Road.
Time: 2 Hours Return
Where is Otanewainuku?
Otanewainuku is 15 km south from Tauranga. First you begin by heading up Oropi Rd and then onto Mountain Rd, or from Te Puke, head to Otanwainuku via No.2 Rd then onto Mountain Rd. Along Mountain Rd you will come across a parking area to the side. This is Otanewainuku.
A small shelter, an information board and toilets are found next to the car park on Mountain Rd.