Rotorua dogs have to be among the luckiest in the country," Paul Charteris, Tarawera Ultramarathon and Waitomo Trail Run founder says.

"They have their own dedicated playzone — an area that covers around 50ha of trees, open fields, tracks and even a stream. What the Whakarewarewa Forest is to mountain bikers, the Scion Dog Park is to canines. It is a mecca of fun and adventures."

I live almost in the Scion Park and totally agree with Paul. Two of the decision makers when buying the property nearly 20 years ago were a border collie and a blue heeler (RIP and now pushing up a beautiful magnolia).

Paul encapsulates it perfectly.

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"The Scion Dog Park, the area opposite the Redwoods Visitors Centre, is an active forestry research zone where new species of trees, and ways to manage them, are trialled. As such, the landscape is a patchwork of different tree species and a pleasant place to stroll around.

"Dogs are allowed to run off-leash provided they are under voice command. It's a safe and fun place for them to burn off some gas. You'll see dogs of every shape, size and cleanliness running, chasing, swimming and fetching their way around.

"For the dog owners, the park is a place to catch up with friends while encouraging dogs to play with each other. Common forms of entertainment are walking around the dog park until you meet another dog owner and encouraging your dogs to play with each other. The more exercise you can get your dogs to do chasing each other, the less you have to do — in theory, anyway."

Paul says another favourite game is flinging a tennis ball or rubber ball with a ball thrower.

"Get a pack of dogs together all the chasing a tennis ball, and each other, and chaos general ensue. Throw sticks into the stream and packs of dogs will generally dive in and paddle furiously for the prize.

"This is a great place for socialising your dogs, too. If your pup is not used to other dogs, they should remain on a leash for the first few visits. The more frequently you visit, the more comfortable your dog will become around other dogs and people."

Location: Scion Dog Park – on the right-hand side of the road on Long Mile Road. There are several entranceways from near Tarawera Road to the Redwoods Visitors Centre.
Cost: Free.
Rules: Dogs must be under voice command. Please pick up poops.
Tip: Sunny evenings are the most popular – be prepared to meet lots of people and lots of dogs.
Health: Make sure your dog has had all its vaccinations before taking it to the dog park.