Last week, on a beautiful sunny winter’s afternoon, I walked the Opepe Bush Walk loop. The last time I did this it was 1985, and our kids were school-age. I had originally walked it with a local group of Weekday Walkers, but went back many times with the family. It’s only 1.5 kms so you can wander round it in half an hour.
Now, doing it again all these years later, it’s just as I remembered it.
There’s something special about the New Zealand bush that I love. It’s the vibrant colours of the foliage, the lichen that grows on the tree trunks, the very tall ancient trees, the birdsong, and the damp smell of the forest.
The Opepe Scenic and Historic Reserve is bisected by SH 5, the Napier-Taupo Highway, and today I’m walking the northern side, a loop track through mature podocarp forest. This is unusual in this region because much was destroyed by the Taupo eruption of 186 AD that formed Lake Taupo. Later, fires and the woodman’s axe of civilisation also took their toll. What remains in this reserve makes a wonderful spot for birdwatching and a very enjoyable walk.
In 1869 Opepe was the scene of a skirmish between the Bay of Plenty Cavalry of the Armed Constabulary, and a band of Maori warriors led by a tribal leader named Te Kooti. A short side track leads to a small cemetery where nine soldiers who died in this engagement are buried. At a later date a few residents of the now non-existant Opepe township and members of the AC were also buried here.
Continuing around the loop track, I see mature Rimu, Matai and Miro trees, many ferns, including our NZ iconic silver fern, and lichen-covered roots.
The Southern walking track on the other side of SH5 is a longer 3 km loop. I’ll take you there in my next post.
The Opepe Scenic and Historic Reserve is DOC administered, and can be found on SH5 Napier Taupo Rd, 17 kms from Taupo.