Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park – April 2021
Over recent years, a community group have undertaken extensive work to upgrade and re-route the old North-South Track, a tramping route that traverses the length of the Kaimai Range, which divides the Bay of Plenty from the Waikato.
Called the Kaimai Ridgeway Trust (KRT), the group have cut tracks, erected huts and constructed boardwalks – all part of a vision to create a fine tramping route suitable for lesser-experienced trampers and families. Previously, large parts of the old Forest Service-era track were overgrown, swampy or without shelter.
One of the highlights of this work by the KRT was the opening of Te Whare Okioki Hut in 2018. As KRT leader Tony Walton writes: ‘An important section of the North-South track that provides access to the Te Whare Okioki Hut passes through the Mangaputa Swamp, where the track descends from the old terminus of the Leyland O’Brien tramline track. The hut is usually full on Saturday nights, and during the week is used by trampers, hunters and youth groups, including youngsters on their Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. Since the hut was opened, 30% of the users have been in the children or youth categories.’
In April 2021, following many months of planning, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology students, advised by DOC ranger Warren Geraghty, constructed four sections of boardwalks across the main Mangaputa Swamp. These have ensured it is now an all-season track, suitable for the increased number and range of users.
DOC provided the materials, which were flown in by helicopter using a Backcountry Trust grant organised by the Kaimai Ridgeway Trust.
It was, as Tony Walton, commented, ‘an unusual work team composition, but it was great to see youngsters and others doing some very effective work.’