What is being done? – He aha e marohitia ana?

Ngāti Whakaue, Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao, and CNI Iwi Holdings Ltd (the vested land holders of Whakarewarewa) together with Rotorua Lakes Council, have developed a masterplan for the Tokorangi and Whakarewarewa forest blocks.

The plan identifies key recreational, cultural and commercial development opportunities with services supporting the users and manuhiri (visitors), the establishment of integrated trails, development of an outdoor event area, and the placement of interpretation information, lookouts, playgrounds and picnic areas.

The development draws from the idea of the forest being conceptualised as a traditional Māori Pā and the concept of Tāne Whakapiripiri.  The concept of Tāne whakapiripiri is an embrace- the trees of Tane bound together. This is represented by the wooden wharenui visitor hub as the gatherer and connector of people. It brings people together, invites inclusiveness and the collective integration of ideas as the foundation for innovation, creativity and sustainability. The pā is a place of protection and refuge, a place to learn, eat and play with whānau and as a village community. The forest is the realm of Tāne – nurturing and perpetuating life, and providing physical and spiritual sustenance to those within its embrace.

The development initially focused on Long Mile Road, and enhancing road access and parking facilities. A new visitor hub for the area is also planned. A new forest hub has been created further up Tarawera Road to provide additional access to the forest and provide infrastructure for visitors. Work is underway on two new cycle trails that will create greater connections between the city and forest, and forest and lakes, and eventually replace the current Te Ara Ahi cycleway.

Long Mile Road upgrade

The work at Long Mile Road has included formalising footpaths and shared paths, upgraded car and bus parking, stormwater management, kerbs and channels, and an improved connection to Scion. It will also include the creation of an entrance way of significance, featuring artworks and informative panels telling a story of duality and balance that connects past and present, tradition and innovation, tangata whenua and manuhiri.

New visitor hub

Caption: New Visitor Centre

The Tokorangi (redwoods) forest experience will be enhanced through a new visitor hub that will include:

  • Construction of a new Visitor Centre and cafe
  • Creation of an improved connection through to the ‘sail space’ for functions and events,
  • Development of a natural play-space with picnic area, designed in collaboration with local children
  • Additional toilets and visitor amenities,
  • Opportunities for a food and beverage retailers, and other services focussed on improving the visitor experience.
Caption: New Playspace

These new spaces will support visitor experiences to the forest by:

  • Providing a sense of manaakitanga,
  • Providing opportunities to explore the stories of Tāne, mana whenua and the forest,
  • Providing a space for people to linger, sit in the sun, eat, picnic and play
  • Create a place for people to start their journey into the forest through a multitude of ways.

Cycle Trails

The forests and the lakes of Rotorua are core-free visitor experiences which can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. These natural assets also provide an opportunity for the creation of two new cycle trails. The first trail to be built connects the Waipa Valley Bike Hub and the Tarawera Road Forest Hub to Lake Tikitapu. This trail is to become a part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail’s Great Rides. A CBD loop to link the Rotorua lakefront and Whakarewarewa and Tokorangi Forests (The Redwoods) is also being constructed.

Tarawera Road Forest Hub

The establishment of a new Forest Hub entrance on Tarawera Road has helped to provide additional access to the forest. In future it is envisioned that this hub could be developed further to include a greater range of services to enhance the experience of visitors to the forest. As per the masterplan it is envisioned that this will become another popular entry point for mountain bikers. The hub includes:

  • A new entrance to the forest, similar to the Waipa Bike Hub.
  • New toilet and shower facilities.
  • A new sealed carpark for 100 vehicles plus gravel and grass parks for a further 300 vehicles.
  • New event spaces.
  • New trails and upgrades to existing trails in the area.