The trustees who care for one of Northland's largest kauri forests are inviting people to take a walk on the wild side.

The Puketi Forest Trust is holding the Inaugural Puketi Forest Kauri Challenge, with 21km and 12km options, to raise money and awareness about the trust's work.

Weather permitting, the walks on January 31 start at the Puketi Recreation Area and forest headquarters, Waiare Rd, and end with a sausage sizzle at the Forest Pools, with transport provided back to the starting point. In case of bad weather, the back-up date is Saturday, February 7.

The 12km walk will penetrate a part of the forest not usually accessible to day walkers due to its access via a Department of Conservation controlled gate.


Because participants will be driven in by 4WD vehicles to the start of the Pukatea Track, that shorter walk is limited to 30 people, says trustee Cherry Beaver.

There will be a washing station for boots, other gear and vehicles at the walk's start to ensure the event does not introduce kauri dieback disease into the still uninfected Puketi Forest.

A $50 fee will get walkers on the track and give them a year's membership to the trust which has been in operation for 11 years. Each $50 paid will fund predator control over 1ha for a year.

"We believe this is one of the best one-day walks in Northland," Ms Beaver said.

"We have a core area of 650ha with rat, stoat and possum traps and a larger area of 1700ha with stoat and possum traps.

"We employ part-time trappers and also have volunteers to service our trap lines. As you can imagine we are always looking for ways to fundraise, hence this walk."

Under the trust's care, kiwi numbers have increased during the past decade, as has the number of North Island robins. Two years ago, kokako were translocated to Puketi and the trust is hopeful those birds will breed successfully this summer.

The 21km Forest Traverse starts on the east side of the forest and ends on the southwest side at Forest Pools. It follows the old Pirau Rd logging route, then descends down the Pukatea Track to the Waipapa River.


After 2.5km along the river, the track widens and follows the remnants of a road intended to link Hokianga with Kaeo but was abandoned by crews, partly constructed, in the 1930s.

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