BOP Regional Councillor
Right on our doorstep in the Western Bay is the 37,000 hectare Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park - a living museum of natural and human history.
The park marks the northern limit of kamahi, red and silver beech, and the southern limit of big kauri. It has quite a few historic mining and kauri logging sites within its boundaries and has a number of popular tramping tracks. The park can be accessed at various points along SH2 (between Tauranga and Katikati) or SH 29, 20km from Tauranga.
This week, the upgrade of one of the closest entrances to the forest park for Tauranga residents was unveiled. A new formed road and carpark at the top of Whakamarama Road now gives access to the historic Leyland O’Brien logging tramway track (which is a three hour return walk) as well as the Ngamarama track (a day walk crossing the Kaimai range). The road and carpark upgrade is a joint agency funded project between the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Department of Conservation. A local community group - Whakamarama Community Incorporated - is very passionate about this area and have been asking for this entrance and access to the park to be improved for a number of years.
It is not hard to see why they think this area is so special. From Whakamarama Road end the track descends down for 100m to the junction of the Leyland O’Brien Tramline and Ngamarama Tracks. If you take the left track, you follow the old tramline besides the headwaters of the Ngamuwahine River, which is relatively flat. After about 1 hour and 30 minutes you cross the river and the tramline climbs slightly to the junction with the Ngamuwahine track. From there it is another 30mins to meet up with the North-South Track and you can follow this to the north and take the Ngamarama Track back to Whakamarama Road or go back the way you came. Check out the Department of Conservation website for more information.
It is a great way to see some wonderful scenery, get some exercise and soak up some history. Well done to all concerned!