This Herald Travel series focuses on Māori-owned and operated tourism businesses around the country, showcasing who they are, what they do, and what they have to offer Kiwi travellers.
Nadine Toe Toe (Nga Potiki, Ngai Tai): Whirinaki Forest FootstepsMurupara, Whakatāne
Why should Kiwis choose to do one of your cultural eco-tours/forest walks?
Whirinaki Forest Footsteps offers our own people an opportunity to partake in an experience that envelops all of the lessons we learned during lockdown. To spend more time outdoors, to exercise, to spend more time with family/friends/loved ones, to invest back into our overall health and wellbeing, to enjoy nature and to really take the time to stop and listen to Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) and her children.
What can guests expect on one of your tours?
The tour begins with Mihi Whakatau (welcome) and Karakia (prayer) to keep you safe on your journey. 12km of pristine native rainforest trails await you. Meet Ngā Rākau Rangatira - the chiefly trees of the forest, see our 1000-year-old tōtara, learn about our Rākau Rongoā (Natural Medicine Plants), hear and hopefully see our native and endangered birds in their natural habitat. Listen to our history as you walk in the shadows of giants, and tread where dinosaurs once walked. Fill your water bottles from our pure waterfalls, and enjoy a packed picnic lunch infused with traditional cuisine. See the tallest moss in the world, and enjoy 'forest bathing' - the concept of connecting with nature and enjoying the health benefits of simply just 'being' at one with the forest. There are plenty of viewing spots along the way to see the beautiful Whirinaki River, and lots of waterfalls to meet throughout the day. Our proud and knowledgeable guides will share with you all that you want to know, and more. The tour concludes with hot Kawakawa Tea back in the forest carpark.
How does your tour celebrate te ao Māori?
The foundations of our entire experience are built firmly upon Te Ao Māori – from where we go, to what we see, what we talk about, how we talk about it and who delivers it – everything is interconnected into our realms.
What do you love most about your job?
What are some of your other favourite things to see and do within your local region?
Everything! We are fortunate to be located in one of the most pristine, and possibly under-touristed, places in the country. Surrounded by native bush, forestry, rivers, lakes, mountains and rivers – this is an outdoor mecca. From hunting and freshwater fishing, to mountain biking, hiking, camping, tramping, water-skiing, wakeboarding – or simply relaxing with a good book and a cold wine. Spoilt for choice - we are only 40 minutes from the coastal beaches of Whakatāne and its cafes and restaurants or saltwater fishing, 30 minutes from Awakeri Hot Pools, 40 minutes from native rainforests, 40 minutes from geothermal wonderlands…and approximately one second away from heaven!