What has been 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, developed a masterplan for the Tokorangi and Whakarewarewa forest blocks.
The plan identified key recreational, cultural and commercial development opportunities with services supporting users and manuhiri (visitors).
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.
Tītokorangi Drive (previously Long Mile Road) upgrade
The development initially focused on Tītokorangi Drive (previously Long Mile Road), and enhancing road access and parking facilities. A new visitor hub for the area is also planned.
The work on Tītokorangi Drive 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.
Te Pūtake o Tawa
Te Pūtake o Tawa, the new forest hub at 516 Tarawera Road, is now also complete. Work began on Te Pūtake o Tawa in late June 2019, and what was once only a small gravel car park, has been transformed into a brand new hub with capacity for 400+ vehicles, event spaces, brand new toilets and showers, bike washing facilities, bike hire and food vendors. There is also significant scope for future commercial development and employment opportunities.
In October 2021, Tūhourangi taonga (artworks) were also installed at Te Pūtake o Tawa. This provided the ability to share kōrero (stories) of tūpuna (ancestors) that are important to Tūhourangi. Te Pūtake o Tawa has now become a place where the public and Tūhourangi descendants can learn about this whakapapa.
Whakarewarewa Forest Loop
The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop cycle trail has also been completed as part of the project and the trail was added to the Ngā Haerenga Great Rides network in May 2022.
The 33km circular mountain bike trail takes riders through some of the iconic features that Rotorua mountain biking is renowned for – fun trails, Māori culture, Redwood trees, geothermal activity, and stunning views.
Being mostly a Grade 2 track, with a couple of Grade 3 sections mixed in, the Loop is designed to be accessible for people of almost all ages, abilities and fitness levels. The trail showcases Rotorua mountain biking to people who may not have had the opportunity to experience these iconic features on more advanced trails.