DANNY DE HEK Entrepreneur Decision Maker Connector Podcaster EducatorCome over to one of New Zealand’s most exciting tramping locations where the virgin Raukumara rainforests offer incredibly steep, broken terrain, tailor-made for the adventurous tramper.

The Raukumara Forest Park lies between the Bay of Plenty and East Cape, the northern extremity of a continuous mountain chain stretching through the North Island. The main river systems of the Motu and Raukokore flow west into the Bay of Plenty. The mighty Motu catchment covers half the park passing through trackless country. It is one of New Zealand’s foremost wild, scenic rivers, favoured by white-water rafting operators, jet-boaters and water-borne hunters.

The popular access into this rugged region is S.H.2 from Opotiki down to Matawai and then into Motu township. Alternatively, from Opotiki the old Motu Road runs inland to Toatoa where you can follow Takaputahi Road to the forest boundary. On the eastern slopes roads run through the Ruatoria and Tokomaru Forests to access the major northern mountains, Mt Hikurangi (1,752 metres) and Mt Honokawa.

The climb to the summit of Mt Hikurangi is very popular as it offers the early riser an opportunity to be first to see the sunrise on New Zealand’s mainland. Conquering Mt Honokawa’s summit is a formidable challenge as it involves penetrating dense sub-alpine scrub and difficult terrain. The classic tramp in the Raukumara is the 4-5 day East-West Traverse starting from the Tapuaeroa River in the east and crossing numerous rivers and ridge lines to reach the Motu River, using huts spaced at one day intervals along the way. This is a wilderness route in every sense of the word, requiring map reading, compass skills and confident bush navigation.

East Cape is an isolated and little-known region where life moves at a slower pace. The park’s isolation means that trampers may see and hear wood pigeons, tuis, bellbirds, robins and tomtits in the forest. There are lesser numbers of kaka, kakariki and kiwi.

Seek out the Raukumara Range if you have an desire to explore remote wilderness and a thirst for adventure.