Pureora Forest Park - Wharepuhunga
Walk status: On-lead
We detoured via State Highway 4 to get to Pureora Forest Park on our drive home from our New Plymouth adventure. When looking for places to explore during our trip, I enquired with multiple DOC offices trying to find national parks or forests we could walk in. Unfortunately all around the Taranaki region were completely banned to dogs, so our only positive response was from the Te Kuiti Office regarding Pureora and specifically the Timber Trail. You need a permit from DOC to walk here with your dog, but its not a complicated process. It requires a email to the Te Kuiti office requesting one, and you just need to provide them with some details about your dog and when you plan to travel there. Note: The Timber Trail is the only one here that allows dogs, although there are other walks, so stick to the signs that point to The Timber Trail only.
Pulling up, George and I could see forest to our right and both of us got a bit excited about what was about to come. It was a very long drive up to the signs that pointed us to the Timber Trail, and its gravel with some big potholes so take it slow! Eventually you get to a carpark, there are also toilets here thankfully as you're in the middle of nowhere. The entrance to the walk is very clear, signs point you in the right direction. We geared up and headed towards the forest entry. Note the signs that warn about 1080 drops. This walk is only with a DOC permit (when you have a dog with you), and also on-lead. While you might be tempted to break the rules and let your dog off-lead in here, don't risk it. George was sniffing everything in here and I was constantly paranoid he might eat something he shouldn't so you want the control, keep them on-lead.
Well I have to say we were quite disappointed with this walk! When I hear forest, I expect large dominating pine trees, like we are used to at Riverhead, and also like we saw when driving up the main driveway. This is much more native bush than it is a forest. Thats not to say its not a nice walk, but it was just not what I was expecting. If you appreciate birdlife, the history of the place and trees that have stood longer than most of us have been alive, then theres still something here for you. The Timber Trail is 84kms long, so theres no way we were walking that distance. However, you also need to be aware (not that I imagine any one will walk their dog this far!) that dogs can only go to about 45kms before it enters private land and dogs are not allowed. I was told by DOC this was the bridge, which considering I was never going to walk that far anyway, it didn't worry me. You can pick how far you want to walk, I assume the markers along the trail marked kms, as unfortunately there is no cell service here so my Map Your Dog Walk app didn't work to track our walk. We walked to the 3 marker and back, so 6kms all up and it took just over an hour in total. It's well shaded here so the perfect walk for the mid-afternoon sun. Take water, as there is none for you or the doggies.
As mentioned above, there is no cell service here so make sure you know which way you need to head when driving out prior to getting near as cell service is really patchy around this area. Time to head home, rest up and work out where our next adventure would be!
Location: Maraeroa Road, off State Highway 30.
Things to know:
There are toilets here
Plenty of parking
DOC permit required for dogs to walk here
No suitable drinking water, so take some on the walk for you and your dog