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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 9 (December 1, 1937.)


(Forestry Dept, photo.). The picturesque Waikau Stream in the Urewera Country.

(Forestry Dept, photo.).
The picturesque Waikau Stream in the Urewera Country.

Since the earliest settlement of New Zealand the Urewera Country has been a land of mystery, and only in comparatively recent years has it become more familiar with the people of the Dominion. With the building of an all-weather road between Murupara and Lake Waikaremoana and the advent of motor touring, the dense bush of the Urewera hills has made the area unique as a scenic reserve, and although more adventutous parties have penetrated its fastnesses with pack-horses, it retains the dignity and beauty of a country where nature still reigns in majestic supremacy.

For 50 miles from Te Whaiti, through continuous forest, an extremely tortuous road leads over range after range to Lake Waikaremoana, and here, surrounded by steep bush-clad hills, lies the crown jewel of the Urewera. It is a heritage that every true New Zealander should do his utmost to preserve.

The area comprises approximately 700,000 acres, including native-owned land. It is about 42 miles north to south and 25 miles east to west. The nearest point of access to the north is Ruatoki, near Taneatua, while to the south there is Murupara, 42 miles from Rotorua. The main road from Rotorua to Lake Waikaremoana passes the south-eastern corner of the forest which clothes the Urewera Hills.

Although the Urewera proper extends about 12 miles south of the Waikaremoana Road, steep bush country continues on for a further 20 miles on the Napier-Taupo Road, the latter being either Crown land or State forest. The Urewera provides a catchment area for the three rivers which serve the Bay of Plenty, the Rangitaiki, the Whakatane, and the Waimana Rivers, and it also has a definite, but much lesser influence on the Waioeka River which serves the 10,000 acres of rich Opotiki dairying flats.

Rising from about 300 ft. to 4,500 ft. above sea level, the whole region generally is steep and unbroken, the average height of the ranges being 2,500 ft. to 3,500 ft. The easiest country is a limited area in the Whirinaki Valley, south of Te Whaiti, and there are other small areas of level and undulating land scattered along the rivers. The soil varies from light to medium and pumiceous loam, and the whole area is abundantly watered.