The Pukenui Forest makes a good day’s outing from Whangarei. There are two loop options on this walking track, and routes for experienced trampers only.
View a track location map
Pukenui Forest Loop
Time: 3 - 4 hr return
Distance: 8.2 km loop
This track is the easier of the two walks as the terrain is less steep. The track meanders along the pretty Mangere Stream, passes some impressive kauri and totara trees, and follows a stretch of historic logging road.
To access the Pukenui Forest Loop turn right at the entrance to the forest. The track follows the boundary fence for a short distance, crosses a stream, and arrives at an intersection. This is the starting point of the loop itself and from this point, you can walk the track in either direction.
Taraire Ridge Loop
Time: 4 - 5 hr return
Distance: 8.9 km loop
The Taraire Ridge Loop is a challenging walk, recommended for people who are relatively fit and enthusiastic. The terrain is steep in places.
The track follows the ridge, through a range of different forest types. Taraire trees dominate the forest, as the name suggests, with rimu and kauri also featuring. There are several good picnic spots next to the Mangare Stream.
The loop begins at the entrance to the forest.
You can walk the loop in either direction from this point, but we recommend that you turn left at the entrance and walk the loop in a clockwise direction, as this is the easier gradient.
Routes for experienced trampers only
There are routes within Pukenui Forest that connect the Taraire Ridge Loop to the Whau Valley Dam, the Coronation Scenic Reserve, and the Barge Park Showgrounds. These routes may not be marked or maintained.
The 1500-ha Western Hills and Pukenui Forest area is located right on Whangarei’s western doorstep.
Pukenui Forest tracks are signposted on Three Mile Bush Road, approximately 4 km from the Kamo traffic lights in Whangarei. You can see the entrance sign almost opposite Rotomate Road or on Amalin Drive.
Nature and conservation
Pukenui State Forest, with an area of 592 hectares, was last logged in the 1920s and has since regenerated quite vigorously containing most of the forest species found in Northland.
As the health of the forest is impacted by pest animals and weeds, the Whangarei District Council and DOC have committed to working together, and alongside local iwi, the community and interest groups, on a long-term project that aims to restore and enhance the forest’s original values.
History and culture
Pukenui Forest, the Whau Valley Catchment and Coronation reserve are of great importance to the Whangarei District. The areas contain high conservation values, are full of historic and cultural sites and provide great recreational opportunities.
The stone walls, built by hand, are a feature of the landscape in this district and have endured remarkably well over the years.
Know before you go
Dogs, horses, firearms and fires are not allowed.