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November 2017 Issue
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A lonely lake 

Lake Colenso, Ruahine Forest Park. Photo: Stephen Robson
This entry is part 8 of 18 in the series Ranger Secrets

Lake Colenso, Ruahine Forest Park

Ranger: Stephen Robson, Palmerston North

In Ruahine Forest Park lies a little lake surrounded by high limestone bluffs. It’s the only lake in the park, and is ranger Stephen Robson’s favourite place in the region.

Robson says it is a warm, sheltered place in summer, “but will freeze wet boots solid in a frost in winter”.

“The basin is usually alive with birdlife most times of year – kaka, kakariki, whio and North Island robin are found here,” he says. Even kiwi have been recorded there in recent times. The forest is mixed podocarp/beech, “with a few mistletoe and dactylanthus for the observant.”

Known by Maori as Kokopunui, the lake was a favourite for hunting eels, fish and birds. It also has significant ecological value, with no introduced weeds or fish, and the surrounding swamp is the only area of lowland podocarp forest in the Ruahine Range.

While it can be reached from numerous tracks, none are easy – the most direct routes take one or two days walk through the Mokai Station to Otukota Hut, Iron Bark Hut and then on to to Colenso Hut, along a slip-prone and difficult track.

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