The Pukenui Forest makes a good day’s outing from Whangārei. There are two options on this walking track, and routes for experienced trampers only.
View a track location map
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 tōtara 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.
Time: 4–5 hr return
Distance: 8.9 km
The Taraire Ridge Track 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 Mangere Stream.
The loop begins at the entrance to the forest.
You can walk the track in either direction from this point, but we recommend that you turn left at the entrance and walk in a clockwise direction, as this is the easier gradient.
There are routes within Pukenui Forest that connect the Taraire Ridge Track 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 Whangārei’s western doorstep.
Pukenui Forest tracks are signposted on Three Mile Bush Road, approximately 4 km from the Kamo traffic lights in Whangārei. You can see the entrance sign almost opposite Rotomate Road or on Amalin Drive.
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.
Pukenui is regionally important for its ecological, cultural and historic significance. DOC, local iwi, the Pukenui Western Hills Forest Charitable Trust and the community are committed to restoring Pukenui to the way it probably was before the arrival of predators when all species were able to flourish.
This work includes a revegetation programme, weed and pest control.
As predator numbers have dropped, North Island brown kiwi have been released into the area The vision is for the restoration work to continue, resulting in an increase in the numbers and variety of native flora and fauna.
Pukenui Forest, the Whau Valley Catchment and Coronation reserve are of great importance to the Whangārei 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.
Auckland and parts of the Waikato are at Level 3. DOC huts and campsites are closed in these regions. The rest of New Zealand is at Level 2.