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The Happy Humpback

Otanewainuku Forest, Tauranga, New Zealand

This whale is a little far from the water, but the view has put a huge smile on his face!

This bush walk takes you to the top of the summit in Otanewainuku Forest in Tauranga. From there you can see up and down the East Coast, including Rotorua, Mt Tarawera, and White Island. The virgin bush is beautiful and includes rimu, tawa, kamahi, and rewarewa. Native birds fill the bush with song. We saw tui on the way up, a flock of bellbirds and welcome swallows at the summit, and a friendly North Island robin on the way down.

Trig Loop Track SignTo get there, drive up Oropi Road and turn onto Mountain Road (a shingle road for much of the way). About 10-15 minutes down Mountain Road, spy a carpark on the left and a public shelter and picnic area on the right (it is not well marked). From the shelter, head into the bush to the left and make your way to the summit on the Trig Loop track - either direction is fine.  The walk takes about 90 minutes if you dawdle to watch birds, admire the trees, and need to catch your breath frequently (like I did!). We took the left track shown in this photo. The track is well marked with orange blazes.

The Happy Humpback's HomeWhen you get to the top, take in the view from the observation platform. The whale is hiding below. From directly underneath the platform, find the East pole. From this pole, take 4 steps South, back down the track. On your left you should see a ponga (tree fern) with an orange blaze (see photo). Directly opposite, on your right there are a group of ponga in a row. From the right end, count back 4 ponga. Nestled just behind in a nook is the whale. Please make sure to rehide carefully, using leaves and moss to completely hide the box if necessary.

UPDATE: since we last visited, the blazes have apparently changed: the ponga on the left no longer has an orange blaze attached to it - this is now attached to a sapling beside the ponga. Also, the trail may be much more difficult to hike if there has been recent wet weather. Thanks to Rebecca for letting us know. We'll try and update the photos next time we visit.

Status: last known successful find 27 Nov 2007.
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Monday, 26 November 2007 10:11 PM


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