Redwood Memorial Grove

Redwood Memorial Grove

The Redwood Memorial Grove at Whakarewarewa Forest was planted around 1900 near Longmile Road and Tarawera Road. The twelve-hectare grove in Rotorua was one of many trials of exotic tree species to replace the largely clearcut native forests. Subsequently, the redwoods have grown faster than they do in northern California due to soil quality and higher rainfall. The tallest is now over 75 metres after just 120 years, up with the tallest ancient kahikatea in NZ.

For most of its history, the grove was part of the commercially-oriented Forestry Service, but six of the twelve hectares planted survived. In 1947, the grove was named the Redwood Memorial Grove to commemorate foresters who died in WW2.

It was officially opened to the public in 1970 and was designated a Forest Park, providing permanent protection. A visitor’s centre followed in 1978. In 2009, the Redwoods and the greater Whakarewarewa Forest was returned to Ngāti Whakaue as part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement. Also in 2009, a German engineer Alex Schmid suggested the Redwoods Treewalk and the treetops walkway was erected in 2015, blessed by the kaumātua of Ngāti Whakaue.

Walking around the Redwoods is a wonderful experience and it is a popular Instagram topic. The big trees are magnificent despite their relative youth. Although the focus is on redwoods, there are substantial sequoias and other big (although less colourful) pines.

Parts of the grove have dense fern tree undergrowth for added colour. There is also a short boardwalk section through an interesting but sulphurous swamp. Don’t miss the Mary Sutherland Memorial Redwood, commemorating the first woman to graduate from a university forestry programme in the world in 1916.

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