If you’re passing through Central Hawke’s Bay on your way north or south, or visiting friends or family, there are three lovely short walks/tramps in the area that are well worth doing. They are all fairly close together, and will occupy no more than a morning or afternoon, including a stop for coffee along the way. An average or moderately fit person should have no trouble doing all of them in one go.
The best place to start your journey is from Waipukurau, as the first reserve, Lindsay Bush Scenic Reserve (also known as the Tukutuki Reserve), is only 5 minutes out of town. To get there, take the Hastingsroad (SH2) north, and immediately after crossing the bridge over the Tukituki River, turn left into Lindsay Road. Keep going until you arrive at a t-junction, turn left into Scenic Road, and follow this until you arrive at an entrance way by a stop-bank. Turn right on the stop-bank and the car park is just 200m further on, on the left.
Lindsay Bush Scenic Reserve
Lindsay Bush is small, just 9.2ha, but is a treasure trove of flora and fauna – a tiny remnant of the lowland podocarp forests that used to cover most of the inland plains and valleys of Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay. The reserve is owned by the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, and is looked after and maintained by the CHB Branch of Forest & Bird.
Entrance to the reserve is through the farm gate at the car park, where there are some picnic tables and seats. Two toilets are provided about 50m into the reserve on the left. Access can also be had to the Tukituki River via the track that continues past the car park. The main track through the reserve is the Titoki track, and there is another track off to the left about halfway through, the Totara Loop track (signposted). The bush in the reserve is made up mostly from kahikatea, titoki, tawa and a few scattered matai and totara. On the eastern side of the reserve is a magnificent stand of cabbage trees (Cordyline Australis), well worth a second look. Many of the kahikatea trees are quite impressive, and are estimated to be between 250 and 500 years old.
When I first walked through this reserve about four years ago, the description in Marios Gavalas’ book, Day Walks of Hawke’s Bay (“The sparse understorey prevalent now is a reflection of browsing by pests such as goats and possums. This now gives the forest an open, airy feel.”) would have been quite accurate. Since then, however, a quiet transformation has taken place. Forest & Bird, assisted with a grant from the Landcare Foundation, the CHB District Council and with help from volunteers and other organisations, has transformed it into a visitor-friendly, vigorously regenerating, lush bit of bush, alive with birdsong. This has been achieved through a sustained weeding and pest trapping programme, which is ongoing. As a result small kahikatea, matai, titoki and tawa seedlings and saplings can now be seen almost everywhere.
Talking about pests, did you know that a rat’s diet consists of 85% seeds and fruits, and 15% invertebrates and other prey such as birds and eggs? It is quite evident that these type of restorative measures show results, in this reserve and many others across New Zealand.
The Titoki Track meanders through the reserve, ending up at the stop bank on the northern side. The choice here is to return the way you came, or to climb up the steps, turn left, and return to the car park via the stop bank, enjoying the view of the cabbage trees on the left, and farm land on the right. The circuit should take no more than 20 – 30 minutes at a leisurely pace.
If doing the Totara Loop as well (recommended), add another 10 – 15 minutes. Both tracks are marked to DOC standards with the usual orange markers (IGNORE THE PINK ONES!), and are easy to follow. The grade is very easy, and suitable for small children and pets (on a leash). Keep them away from traps and bait stations however!
A’ Deane’s Bush
From Lindsay Bush, return to the t-junction where Scenic Roadstarts, but instead of turning right back to Waipukurau, keep left, and follow Lindsay Road as it winds up into the row of hills before you. It’s worth a stop near the top, to look back over Lindsay Bush and the surrounding farmland – great views to be had. At the intersection with Onga Onga road, turn left, and head to the historic village of Onga Onga. A cup of coffee at the General Store is a good option, as is a visit to the DOC field base a bit further on. This is next to the town’s museum, and comprises an eclectic collection of small buildings worth a peek. There was a country pub at one stage, but that’s long closed – there is another one in Tikokino, not too far away on SH50
Once you’ve had your fill of Onga Onga, continue on through the town, turning left onto SH50. After about 10km, turn right into Makaretu Road. A’Deane’s Bush is about 5km down the road on the right, with access through a signposted gate to a car park. Walk past the sign & map by the parking area through another gate, past the toilet (on the right) to the bush entrance, where there’s a picnic table. There’s a great information panel here, worth a read.
A’ Deane’s Bush, covering 38ha, is the largest reserve of the three, and is managed as a joint venture between DOC and Friends of A’Deane’s Bush. It’s received a lot of work and input in recent years years from both organisations, evident from the facilities and signage that has been installed. The track has been metalled and boardwalked in muddy sections, and a lot of tree planting has been done near the road entrance gate with the involvement of children from the nearby Sherwood School. The endangered NZ long-tailed bat is known to inhabit this reserve, and may occasionally be seen at dusk. The vegetation is somewhat different to Lindsay Bush, due to the significantly higher rainfall, but contains many of the same tree species, in addition to rewarewa and black beech.
The track forms a rough loop, and should take about 30 minutes to walk at a leisurely pace. However, be prepared to spend a bit more time here, as this small piece of bush contains a huge surprise – one of the largest known totara trees in New Zealand. It’s an awe-inspiring example, with an estimated age of 600 years, and underscores the importance of preserving these small areas of native forest as a heritage for future generations. Many of the main tree species in the reserve are identified by small signs along the track – keep a lookout for them. The track is relatively flat, and should be easily managed by small children. The reserve is also actively managed with pest traps and bait stations – please stick to the track and do not disturb or tamper with these, or with any markers, if seen.
Monckton’s Scenic Reserve
From A’ Deane’s, drive back along Makaretu Road until you reach Sherwood School– turn right here, into Mill Road. After about 4km, turn left into Ashley Clinton Road. About 2km down this road there’s a sharp dip, at the bottom of which you cross a bridge – immediately after the bridge on the left is the entrance to Monckton’s Bush. The car park is a grassed area next to the stream – a nice place in summer for a picnic with the kids, and safe enough to splash or swim in, while you relax with a cold drink. The entrance to the reserve is directly opposite to the road entrance – there are toilets here, and a lovely covered seating area. The track starts by an info and map panel – study the map before setting off, as the track forms a figure of eight, and can be a little confusing.
Walking time is stated as 1.5 to 2 hours, but fit people could do it in just over an hour. This reserve covers 16.5ha, quite small, but stretches out along the banks of the Tangarewai Stream, which is the main attraction and point of difference with Lindsay and A’ Deane’s. The shelters and tracks are well constructed, and were built through donations and hard work by the Takapau Lion’s Club. Note that the track crosses a small stream shortly after the start – there used to be a swing bridge here, but the footings were undermined by a significant flood some years ago, after which DOC removed the bridge, for safety reasons. The stream is easily crossed under normal conditions, and you may even be able to keep the feet dry as some kind soul has placed a number of stepping stones across the stream. Just be aware that after heavy rain the stream can rise quickly, and if the water is flowing fast, is discoloured, or you can’t see the stream bottom, don’t cross – rather come back another time.
For a reserve of this size, there is a lot of variety in views, bush and elevation – it takes a little more energy to do this walk, however! The main tree species found here are similar to the other two, with the exception being that black beech is more prolific, and there are still some pockets of pines remaining. Birdlife is quite good, and you have a good chance of spotting kereru, which are still common here. I have also seen a ruru (owl) on a previous visit.
About halfway down the track is a grassy area next to the stream – also a good place for a break, or to have a splash. Another thing to look out for in autumn is the large variety of fungi proliferating next to the track. Near the pines I’ve seen some spectacular examples of fly agarics, as well as coral fungi. Many of the really interesting things to be seen are often missed by people, so take a slower approach, and closer look, at the surroundings as you wander through this delightful reserve.
Having done these three small gems, the way back to Waipukurau is to continue on down Ashley Clinton Road, then turn right onto SH50, and left when you reach SH2.
- There’s nothing overtly dangerous or threatening in any of these reserves, but take raingear and water with you anyway. Why not take a backpack and thermos, and have a picnic?
- If taking small children, keep an eye on them at all times. Lindsay and A’ Deane’s have pest traps in them that can cause serious injury to small probing hands! Lindsay also contains some poisonous weeds (Jerusalem cherry) with bright yellow to red berries the size of cherries – don’t let kids eat anything you know is not safe. Monckton’s has some steep drops next to sections of the track, which can be slippery when wet.
Good, sturdy walking shoes or boots recommended.