We’re still in and around Tauranga and Rotorua for today’s blog article, but we’re heading away from these towns and into the nearby forests. Just minutes from downtown Rotorua lies a redwood forest. Yep. You read that correctly. Redwoods. As in, the same type redwoods for which areas of northern California are famous.
The redwoods here, however, are not quite as large as the ones I highlighted in my article on Muir Woods, as you can see from this Muir Woods photograph from that article:
So, how did redwoods come to grow in New Zealand? No; these trees are not indigenous. Yes; these are indeed California coastal redwoods. They were brought here nearly 100 years ago and naturalized into the environment.
These sequoias have taken to the local climate and soil quite well. Since being brought here sometime around 1923, some of these trees have already reached heights of 230 feet/70 meters. This particular stand of redwoods make up the Whakarewarewa Redwoods Forest.
The redwoods are not the only flora of note here. What about that silver leaf fern pictured at the top of today’s article? Here is another view:
Not very silver, now, is it. But not so fast. The silver leaf does not get it’s name lightly. To see the silver, one must turn over the leaf to observe the underside:
Now let’s continue farther away from Rotorua and head north to Okere Falls Scenic Reserve:
It is here, at Okere Falls, that we trek into the forest for a view of a popular rafting area over the Tutea Falls. Let’s start with the upper portion of Tutea:
And head on down just below that to the lower portion (in the lower right frame below you’ll see the remains of an old hydroelectric generating station):
Now, that doesn’t look all that daunting for rafters, right? Well, let’s watch what happens to a pair of rafts heading down Tutea Falls. The following video recaps some of what you saw last week in the geothermal area near Rotorua, and beginning at the 0:43 mark you see this intrepid duo of rafters heading over the falls: