Pureora Forest Park: Places to go in the Waikato region

A frosty morning in Pureora Forest Park
Image: Amy Templeman | Creative Commons


Pureora Forest Park straddles the Hauhungaroa and Rangitoto ranges west of Lake Taupo and east of Te Kuiti.


In 1946 Pureora Forest was one of the last native forests to be opened up for logging. Choose one of the walking and mountain biking tracks within the park and discover historic relics while enjoying the beautiful scenery. 

Find out more about the history of Pureora Forest Park including the Ongarue Tramway and Spiral which survives unmodified. 

Place overview


  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Camping
  • Four wheel driving
  • Horse riding
  • Hunting
  • Mountain biking
  • Quad and trail biking
  • Walking and tramping

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Pureora Forest Park

About track difficulties
About track difficulties
About hut categories

Bird and wildlife watching

There are a number of places throughout the park suitable for bird watching. Kaka, kakariki, kokako, and karearea are to be found in parts of the park, as well as kereru, tomtits, north island robins, tui, bellbirds, fantails, and wax-eyes. The forest tower is a good way to see birds in the tops of trees, and is easily accessed from the end of Bismark Rd. The Waipapa Loop Track is another easily accessed track on the edge of the Waipapa Ecological Area, where pest control has increased bird numbers. Be sure to take a pair of binoculars and a camera with you.

New Zealand has two species of bats – the long tail and short tail bat. Both bats may be viewed at dusk in some locations around the park.

The Ngaherenga campground offers views of short tail bats as they leave a roosting tree. Long tail bats may be seen and heard along Select Loop Road.

A bat detector is handy but not necessary to see the bats. A pair of binoculars may enhance your experience, but due to their size and speed, bats are difficult to see.

Child/family friendly activities

Within 10 minutes of Pureora Field Base there are several sites of special scientific, historic and ecological interest. These sites are all located along short walks, some of them are wheelchair/pushchair accessible, and all are family friendly.

The Totara Walk, buried forest, forest tower, vintage steam hauler and tractor and old crawler tractor are push-chair accessible and are short walks 5-30 minutes long. Enjoy bird watching along the trail.

Toilets and a picnic area are located opposite the Totara Walk. A fresh water tap is available on the wall of the building there. Take a frisbee or a ball to utilise the grassy area next to the picnic tables.

Dog walking

Dogs and owners are welcome to use the network of tramping and walking tracks throughout the park for exercise. You'll need a dog control permit, available from the local DOC office. Dogs must be under control at all times.

Dogs are not permitted along any of the short walks throughout the park.

Historic sightseeing

The Timber Trail cycleway between Pureora and Ongarue follows historic bush tramways, old bulldozer and haul roads.

Other areas of historic significance throughout the park include the crawler tractor, the buried forest and the vintage steam hauler and tractor. Each of these walks will take 5-10 minutes.

Ongarue Tramway and Spiral - much of the Ongarue tram system survives unmodified.

Read more about the history of Pureora Forest Park

Specialist activities: Star gazing

The Pureora Forest Park offers spectacular star gazing opportunities. The Piropiro campground is privately located at the end of Kokomiko Rd and is sheltered from neighbouring properties and lights for a full emersion experience.

The Pureora Cabins and the Ngaherenga campground in Pureora Village also offer good star gazing opportunities due to the limited amount of lighting within the village.

Freedom camping off main tracks is also permitted within the park, allowing users to pick their own spot for star gazing.

Four wheel driving

The northern block of the Pureora Forest Park has areas available for four wheel driving.

The King Country 4WD group works in partnership with DOC to open and maintain 4WD tracks for public access and enjoyment.

Access into the north block is along Waitaramoa Rd, off SH30 (the Te Kuiti – Mangakino Highway) almost opposite the Pureora Field Base.

Horse riding

Horse riding is a limited activity within the Pureora Forest Park. You'll need a horse permit for each rider, available from the local DOC office.

Quad and trail biking

Pureora Forest Park contains many kilometres of roads and tracks suitable for quad bike riding. Quad bikers may explore all the formed roads and tracks within Pureora Forest Park, wherever old cut earth of "bladed" lines are found. A range of easy and technical rides are ready to be discovered.

Select Loop Road and Okahukura Loop provide beginner or easy tracks for people to try quad biking. The tracks around Piropiro Flats (excluding the Timber Trail) are also suitable for quad biking.

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    Pureora Forest Park straddles the Hauhungaroa and Rangitoto Ranges between Lake Taupo and Te Kuiti. It is a hidden wonderland of tall trees, clear rivers and rare wildlife.

    Forest Tower

    This 12 m high tower is a 10 minute walk from Bismarck Rd car park. It gives you an entirely different perspective of life up in the forest canopy. It is a good spot for observing native birds such as kuku (kereru/native pigeon), kakariki (parakeets), and kaka (forest parrot).

    The Buried Forest

    1800 years ago a forest was knocked over, buried and preserved by a violent eruption from a huge volcano, whose remains now form Lake Taupo. In 1983 this remarkable forest was accidentally uncovered by a digger. Today the uncovered logs lie as they fell during the volcanic eruption.

    Pouakani totara tree

    The largest recorded totara tree in New Zealand is located on private land on SH 30, approximately 10 minutes drive east of the Pureora Field Base. It will take you 20 minutes to walk from the car park to the tree.

    Book: The drama of conservation

    The drama of conservation book cover.
    Book cover

    Learn more about Pureora Forest Park. The drama of conservation offers a sweeping history of Pureora Forest Park, one of the most significant sites of natural and cultural history interest in New Zealand. The authors review the geological history of the volcanic zone, its flora and fauna, and the history of Maori and European utilization of forest resources. Download order form (PDF, 439K)

    Getting there

    Pureora Forest Park lies between Te Kuiti, Taumaranui and Lake Taupo and is easily accessed by SH 30 and SH 32.

    Know before you go

    There is no fuel in Pureora, so ensure you have enough before you visit.

    A small range of retail products are available at Pa Harakeke (open 7 days during the summer season, and Monday to Friday during winter).

    The nearest facilities are at Benneydale, 15 minutes west along SH30.

    Fletchers Road in Pureora Forest Park has suffered a large creek wash-out that is impassable to vehicles.

    Okauaka Ford restricted to light vehicle use only

    The Okauaka Ford, located near the end of Piropiro Road, is seriously undermined and a section is sagging. Restricted to light vehicle use only (up to 3,000 kg).

    Keep vehicle well clear of the damaged upstream side of ford. The carpark and amenity area near the ford are still open and available for use. Construction to replace the ford will begin soon.

    The Timber Trail and access to Piropiro Campsite do not cross this ford.

    Topo maps

    Because of the terrain and heavily forested nature of the park trampers and hunters are advised to obtain the relevant topographical maps available from the local DOC office:

    • Rangitoto range: NZTopo50 Bennydale BF34 1:50 000
    • Hauhungaroa range: NZTopo50 Piropiro BG34 1:50 000
    • Panirau and Waitewhenua: NZTopo50 Ohura BG32 1:50 000
    • Pureroa Forest Park: BF34; BF35; BG34; BG35; BH 34; BH35; BE34; BE35


    Te Kuiti Office
    Phone:   +64 7 878 1050
    Email:   tekuiti@doc.govt.nz
    Address:   78 Taupiri Street
    Te Kuiti 3910
    Full office details
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