Pureora Forest is a superb choice for a short walk in a thousand-year-old rain forest on a drive through the centre of the North Island. There are several short and long walk options starting on the north and south sides of the forest. We chose the short Tōtara Walk that starts beside the northern end of the Timber Trail (cycling). This walk is simply amazing and is a stunning introduction to what much of the North Island once looked like.
The forest is considered one of the best rainforests in the world and its establishment was a watershed moment in the history of NZ forest conservation. By the 1970s, the forest was one of the few large remaining native forests in the North Island, but despite this, the intention was to cut it down and replace it with radiata pines, the most common exotic commercial tree in NZ. After a series of protests and tree sittings, the government agreed to establish a park to protect the forest in 1978.
The north side of the forest can be accessed from either of the two main routes heading south; either south on SH30 from Te Kuiti or south on SH32, connecting to SH30 from Tokoroa – the northern access to the forest is about halfway between the two towns. You need to allow about 40 minutes or so of extra drive time.