There's more to the Whakarewarewa Forest than trees (and bike, running and walking trails).

Right now there is a pair of magnificent native falcons or kārearea nesting near the intersection of Lentil Link and Windy and Hill Roads.

Introducing Hatupatu and Maia.

Since 2013, a total of seven kārearea have been released from the Government Gardens in Rotorua and now into its fifth year this remains the first ever city release of a threatened species in New Zealand.


"This remains a nationally significant conservation programme and highlights a huge community effort that has resulted in one pair breeding," says Debbie Stewart, executive director of the Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre (visit in Paradise Valley.

"Hatupatu and Maia have recently found a new nest site within Whakarewarewa forest and with the help of commercial operators and recreational users of the area we're hoping to give them the best chance to have another successful breeding season. The main problem is that New Zealand falcon, having evolved in New Zealand without natural predators or competitors, do things like nest on the ground. This used to work for them in the 'old' days, not so much these days."

Hatupatu and Maia are like most parents, defending their young and trying and ward off danger.

"While defending their nest site, they are unable to incubate, or rear their young, or hunt for food, and this compromises both their survival, and the success of breeding," Debbie said.

Signage along Windy Rd has been erected alerting people to take extra care to help look after these birds.

"We anticipate that immediate sensitivity will last through until mid-December. It's a short window, but they need all the help they can get," she said.

This is one of those times when the entire community is united. The forest managers, Timberlands, owners of the trees, Kaiangaroa Timberlands and the Rotorua Trails Trust are all supporting Wingspan's efforts. A post about the falcons on the Trust's Facebook page has gone viral.

Kārearea are far more endangered than kiwi. They are also a lot feistier.They will attack people and dogs. But your safety isn't really the point. Defending the nest stresses them and compromises their ability to breed and survive.

Please respect the signage and tape. There are plenty of kilometres of trails that are unaffected.

You'll also be supporting the truly remarkable work Wingspan are doing, with a group of dedicated volunteers who help monitor the birds.

Betty Shepherd is one of them. She takes some remarkable photos of the falcons - see today's image. Look at that beautiful creature (and take a closer look at those talons...).

The Rotorua Trails Trust working bee is on Sunday and will focus on the lower section of As You Do.

Meet at the Nursery Rd end of Long Mile Rd by 9am. There's transport in, tools are provided or BYO, snacks and drinks thanks to the Holiday Inn, cake by Mark West and you can go in the draw for a 30-day, geothermal pools pass at QE Health Wellness and Spa.

The Whaka 100 Marathon is on Sunday, based at Waipa. The trails being used are open to the public. However, please respect the racers and marshals:
Have a brilliant Labour Weekend.