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Taraire Ridge and Pukenui Loop tracks, Pukenui Forest

Mangere Stream flows through the Pukenui Forest at a leisurely pace. Photo: Michelle Martin
Pukenui Forest
The most popular access point is via Amalin Drive off Three Mile Bush Rd. The dam on Whau Valley Rd and Barge Park in Maunu are other popular starting places
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Pukenui is a beautiful but under-utilised broadleaf forest, with perfect picnic spots by meandering streams. It’s a cool place to be on a roasting Northland day, but is accessible year-round. It’s not uncommon to think you have the whole forest to yourself – surprising when suburbia is just a ridge or two away.

A couple of loop options begin at the Three Mile Bush Road entry point where you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in rural England crossing paddocks bordered by attractive stone walls to reach a stile at the start of the forest.

Set out along Taraire Track. The Taraire route dips up and down along a ridge line with taraire, rimu and kauri towering above, until it reaches the main ridge intersection where you can opt to head south to the Whau Valley Dam, city, or to Barge Park.

Carry on around the Taraire Track until you link up with the more popular Pukenui Loop Walk by the picturesque Mangere Stream.

The two tracks form a figure of eight and it’s possible to bail out to the car park at this point, or carry on around the second (Pukenui) loop.

The trail follows Mangere Stream for some time before a short but steep climb leads onto the ridge tops again.

A marked detour off the track leads to a huge kauri. Carrying on, it’s an easy amble back out to the car park.