As you start walking the Queen Charlotte Track at Meretoto/Ship Cove, the forest-covered northern slopes of the sacred Puhikereru/Mt Furneaux surround you. From here the track circles the mountain to the head of Punaruawhiti/Endeavour Inlet.
How did the mountain, Puhikereru, get its name?
The great navigator Kupe came to Aotearoa with two birds. One was a kererū/pigeon named Rupe, tasked with seeking out the fruits of the forest.
When Kupe settled on the northern shores of Raukawa/Cook Strait, Rupe flew south to Te Wai Pounamu/South Island and joined local pigeons feasting on the maunga/mountain.
So rich in food was his new forest home that Rupe never returned to Kupe and from that time the maunga was named Puhikereru – the ‘plume of the kererū’.
Puhikereru is central to the identity of the Māori kaitiaki/guardians of Queen Charlotte Track – Te Ātiawa, Rangitāne, Ngāti Kuia, and Ngāti Apa. The maunga is a symbol of the mauri/life force contained within the natural world, a force that binds the spiritual and physical realms.
Today the slopes of Puhikereru contain some of the most mature and diversified native coastal forest of Tōtaranui/Queen Charlotte Sound. Be sure to slow down and enjoy this special section of the Queen Charlotte Track.