A week after walking the northern side of the Opepe Scenic and Historic Reserve loop walk, I asked my brother and sister-in-law to join me to walk the loop on the southern side of the road. This is a 3 km walk and takes about an hour. If, like me, you like a bit of local history with your walks, this will tick the box.
The walk took us to a saw pit used in 1869 to cut telegraph poles for the Taupo – Napier line. These pits required two men with a long two-handled saw, one standing below in the pit, the other standing above on the log. They were known as the top sawyer, and the bottom sawyer. They alternated pulling the two-man saw through the log. Many of the posts are still in use in this area today.
Further along the loop walk we came across one of these old telegraph poles lying beside the track…
And another still standing…
The bush on this side is regenerating forest due to the fact land had been cleared for the township of Opepe and the Armed Constabulary settlement, which was situated here in the 1860-80s.
As we walk through the bush I’m attracted to the lichen covered tree trunks, the pretty ferns, and the fungi I see growing on wood on the forest floor.
Next we took a short side track to the site of a historic trough used for watering bullocks. It was hewn from a totara log felled in the Opepe bush and hauled to this site by men of the Bay of Plenty Armed Constabulary. The actual trough was not visible in the growth around the site though.
The story told here of Trooper Crosswell escaping death in the attack of 1869 by fleeing naked across the Kaingaroa Plains to the Galatea Fort in mid winter is mind boggling to say the least!
Old post and rail fencing from the same era as the trough
As we near the end of our loop walk, we walk up the track to the site of the old township of Opepe. The Armed Constabulary stockade occupied this site from 1869 to 1885.
Site of the Redoubt well
An old sign with indistinguishable words alongside what remains of the original Napier-Taupo Road.
We end our walk with a drink and a snack bar on the cleared land that used to be Opepe township.
Once there had been a hotel, a store, several dwellings and 120 people living here.
I love learning about the history of my country, and to combine it with a bush walk on a beautiful winter day…awesome!
Opepe Scenic and Historic Reserve can be found 17 kms from Taupo up the Napier – Taupo Road.