By Jack Huygens, 15 January 2023
Alex (organizer), Chris, Jack
The Akatarawa forest is a pretty interesting place, full of endless old logging trails ranging from well maintained gravel roads to muddy gullies of clay and paths through the bush that may or may not lead anywhere.
Which makes it an excellent place to muck around in!
We headed out on a windless sunny day, starting from the carpark at the end of Maungakotukutuku road. Our goal was to reach Titi via whatever routes we could find, which ended up being a pretty fun river-bash up to Pt.426, then along a rutty clay road through the bush along the ridge.
Trails split off in every direction around here, and it would be a prime spot for compass navigation practice and bush-bashing.
We actually ran into a man and his dog who told us he created his own map of the area by following all these mysterious side-tracks until he had mapped out the whole local area. I very much regret not asking him if he had this map uploaded online anywhere.. because that map must be a real gem.
We walked a little bit beyond Titi along the Pram track towards the east in search of a view, and stopped for lunch when we found one:
We returned back to Titi and continued along the Pram track towards the west until we reached an open pine logging area near the Whakatikei river. The heat (and still air) of the day really hits hard when you're out in the open like this:
Our first idea was to follow a farm road back to the beginning, but turns out this was actually across private property and was pretty aggressively blocked off, so we instead faffed around for a bit going down streams and side-trails to see if we could find a doable route along the Maungakotukutuku stream. The bush here was thick, scrubby regenerating forest so it was far too messy to bother.
We ended up following the marked route back along the dirt road back to the carpark, with some nice views of Kapiti island along the way:
The Akatarawa forest has a really interesting mix of bush, like newly regenerating scrub and active pine logging along the borders, then with previously logged native bush through most of the interior. Though heaps of large old-growth trees were left behind, and there's some pretty impressive bush to be found so close to the coast. You can spy lots of large Rimu and more along the horizon when you get a view:
The Akatarawa forest even had operational tramways in the past, used for logging native trees.
Apparently the Akatarawa forest area use to be known as "Price's Bush" when it was privately owned and logged, and contained the "Price's Bush Tramway".
This certainly explains the labyrinth of old abandoned trails forking off in every direction!
(photo credited to "Godber Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library")
Anyway, it was a lovely day out (though the heat can be pretty overwhelming) and this is certainly an area that I'm personally curious about, and would love to return to, maybe with a tent, just to get a bit deeper and see what this old forest has hidden inside it.
Maybe some old logging equipment overgrown way off the main track?
This forest was hiding the world's largest Rata tree which was only discovered in 2008, so this place certainly has some exploring worth doing!