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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 7 (November 1, 1929)

Ruatoki with its 700 Natives

Ruatoki with its 700 Natives

Early that afternoon Ruatoki was reached, where we collected our first mail, replenished our tobacco supply, then proceeded onward to Taneatua. At Taneatua we came across an old friend “A Government Official,” who very kindly offered to convey us the eight miles onward to Whakatane, arriving there perhaps an hour or two earlier than we anticipated.

At this stage we were approaching the end of our tour with about 60 miles road walk into Rotorua still to complete.

Whakatane, with its giant rocks overhead, called Pohatu-roa or “Lofty Rock,” was particularly interesting. These rocks are of a volcanic nature, about 60ft high, with a number of pohutukawa page 45 trees growing here and there against the skyline. These cliffs have a great historical interest.

With one evening at Whakatane we were rested sufficiently to commence the last portion of our tramp the following morning.

The tramp around the three lakes, Rotorua, Rotoehu and Roto-iti was delightful. The road runs through a beautiful forest pass between Rotoehu and Roto-iti known as “Hongi's Track,” where we saw and photographed the sacred matai tree “Hinehopu” on the right hand side of the road about 21 miles from Rotorua. We observed the offerings of green vegetation placed at the foot of this huge tree by the various native travellers. Laying close at hand is a huge stone that marks the spot where Te Kanewa, an illustrious Arawa Chief, was killed. (Those desiring a full knowledge of these old campaigns should read Mr. James Cowan's graphically written “History of N.Z. Wars.“) Hongi used this track in 1823 to bring war canoes from the coast to attack the Arawas on Mokoia Island where they were massacred. In the year 1908 “Hongi's Track” was made a reserve.

On the edge of the Roto-iti lake we left the main road to walk through about five miles of most magnificent bush scenery to Lake Okataina. Returning to the main road we completed what is regarded as one of the most interesting and varied tours for trampers to undertake in New Zealand.

“It was a tranquil spot that seemed to smile …“—Shelley. A view on the Whakatane River, Bay of Plenty, 60 miles from Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand.

“It was a tranquil spot that seemed to smile …“—Shelley.
A view on the Whakatane River, Bay of Plenty, 60 miles from Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand.

For the information of railwaymen or others contemplating a similar tour through the fascinating Urewera Country, I might mention that our party covered a total of 865 miles—527 miles by rail, 157 motor, 146 tramping, and 35 by launch.

I wish to offer my personal thanks to those gentlemen who assisted, by means of introductory letters or by information supplied, in making this tramp so delightful in every possible way.