New nature trail for Kaimais

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The thought of running into a real weta is an added thrill for 11-year-old Chloe Boyt of Matua, as she tries out the new Aongatete Forest Nature Trail. Photo/supplied
The thought of running into a real weta is an added thrill for 11-year-old Chloe Boyt of Matua, as she tries out the new Aongatete Forest Nature Trail. Photo/supplied

A new interactive nature trail is about to open in the Kaimai Range.

The Nature Trail at Aongatete Forest will formally open next month but people can treat themselves to a sneak preview with a guided walk on Sunday, 11 September at 10am.

Thirty beautiful interactive panels make up the trail, including panels on forest ecology, tree, insect and bird identification, geology, and pest control. A separate trail covers plants associated with rongoa, or traditional Maori medicine.

The Nature Trail is a joint project between the Aongatete Outdoor Education Centre and the Aongatete Forest Restoration Trust.

The biggest users of the trail are expected to be the hundreds of children and young people who attend camps at the Edcuation Centre each year, but Forest Restoration Trust chair Barbara Mcgillivray said the trail should be popular with others as it follows forest tracks that are open to everyone.

Centre project manager Keith Pyle said the trail gave people a great knowledge of forest interactions.

"Walking the trail you get a deeper understanding of the forest, and the incredible biodiversity it contains."

Mr Pyle said the interactive signs were only the start of what was hoped to be a bigger project in the forest, including a resource kit and activity guide.

"The kit would describe activities at a number of checkpoints along the trail, and elements of this could be a 'self-guide' to the trail. Initially this would be in printed format but ultimately we'd like it to be available in digital format for use with devices such as iPads."

Funding for the Nature Trail to date has come from the Department of Conservation, the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, and the Lion Foundation.

The Nature Trail will be officially opened at 3pm on Tuesday, 13 September, by Western Bay of Plenty Deputy Mayor Gwenda Merriman. Both the opening and the guided walk will start from the education centre at 834 Wright Road.

* If you'd like to register your interest for either of these events please email Keith at kpyle@xtra.co.nz for the official opening or Barbara at restore.aongatete@gmail.com for the guided walk.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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