"Mosaic Of Forest" Added To Tararua Forest Park
The Tararua Forest Park behind Levin is to be extended, following the Crown purchase of a thousand hectare block that the land's previous owners have allowed the public free access across for the past 30 years.
Conservation Minister Sandra Lee says the block provides access to Waiopehu Hut, one of three DOC huts in the Tararua Ranges that is being removed and rebuilt under a $16M programme to upgrade back-country visitor facilities.
Ms Lee said the purchase would protect a substantial forested and open top enclave of the Tararua Ranges, from the Makaretu Stream over to Gable End ridge and the Blackwater Stream catchment.
It would also secure in public ownership the part of the Waiopehu Track where the Edwards Shelter is located along with the site of the old Waiopehu Hut, as well as the nearby site of the new Hut.
"The block contains a mosaic of forest including rimu and kamahi in the foothills, rising to red and silver beech and kamahi above 500 metres," Ms Lee said. "Buying the land will also protect habitats for kereru and other birds such as the rifleman, grey warbler and the North Island tit. It will also secure the natural boundary of an extended Ohau Ecological Area that will cover a complete range of forest types in the north west of the Tararuas."
DOC is spending more than $60,000, matched by an equivalent amount from the Tararua Aorangi Huts Committee, on rebuilding the Waiopehu Hut on a nearby site. The construction has been timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Levin Waiopehu Tramping Club, which is also helping to fund the replacement hut.
Two other DOC back-country huts in the Tararuas earmarked for replacement are the Totara Flats Hut located beside the Waiohine River in the eastern Tararuas and Elder Biv, a shelter near Renata Ridge in the southern Tararuas.
The three back-country huts are all being slightly relocated from their original sites so they are less prone to flooding, or are in better hunting or emergency shelter areas.