About Kaimai Mamaku

The Kaimai Mamaku forests and their catchments cover an area of almost 300,000 hectares between the Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions, extending from the Waihou River to Tauranga Harbour, and from Mokaihaha in the south to Karangahake Gorge in the north. The area extends across four districts in two regions, is located near almost 500,000 people, and is within the rohe of numerous iwi and hapū. The bush clad spine of the Kaimai range gives way to the misty plateaus and valleys of the northern Mamaku. An arm reaches eastwards toward the sea, embracing the hills of Ōtānewainuku and Otawa.  

Our whenua is home to a diverse and unique range of ecosystems. From saltmarshes, wetlands and lowland rivers between the coast and foothills to the goblin fog and bog forests, towering podocarp forests and rocky outcrops of the mountain ranges. The Kaimai Mamaku forms a key connection and transition between the forests of the central North Island volcanic plateau and the Coromandel Peninsula. This transition zone is the northern limit for popokatea/whitehead, silver beech, kamahi, and pink pine, and southern limit for Coprosma dodonaefolia, towai and kauri. This transition zone is ecologically unique and gives rise to unusual combinations of animals and vegetation found nowhere else.

Our project area is also home to native fish including threatened species such as long fin eels and giant kokopu, many of which depend on clear cool water and access to forested streams to feed and breed.

As well as being home to these species, and thousands of plants, lichens, mosses and fungi, the Kaimai Mamaku ngahere plays a crucial role in stabilising fragile steep soils and regulating water flow into the streams and rivers of the Bay of Plenty and Waikato. With dense healthy forest cover in the Kaimai Mamaku, streams are less likely to erode and flooding is less severe, reducing the threat to our homes, farms, orchards, roads/bridges and harbours downstream.

The forests also normalise sediment movement in waterways, ensuring that Tauranga Moana and the Firth of Thames/Tikapa Moana are not smothered in silt. Those harbours are the nurseries of the recreational fish that a third of New Zealanders enjoy catching. If our forests are healthy, our harbours and fisheries are healthy… fish need forests! The Kaimai Mamaku Restoration Project mission is to protect what remains of our beautiful native forest and irreplaceable biodiversity, and to restore its precious and unique ecology through intensive pest control and kaitiakitanga. Located within easy reach of almost 10% of New Zealanders, our taonga is your taonga. Join the Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku Trust, the numerous restoration projects, community conservation groups, care groups, and passionate individuals on the mission to restore the mauri… the essence, energy, and life… of this precious place.

 

”Without the whole the parts are lost, and without the parts, there is no whole. Both lie within the same plane.” Masanobu Fukuoka 1985, “The Natural Way of Farming”

Biodiversity:

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The Kaimai Mamaku is home to unique and iconic taonga species including…

Credit: Molly Johnson
Our iconic quirky Kiwi

The North Island brown kiwi is the only kiwi species still found in the wild, in a wide range of habitats from scrub to dense forests. This feisty bird can fight off a stoat once it reaches 1.2kg in weight so protecting the chicks is vital to the survival of the wild populations. Intensive pest control operations are successfully reversing population decline in many places including the Kaimai Mamaku. Annual surveys (May/June) are now being carried out to discover where Kiwi are still hanging on, so that we can target pest control to encourage this precious taonga to once again thrive in our forests.

Credit: Jake Osborne
Beautiful songster Kōkako

Like many NZ species, the North Island kōkako is found nowhere else on earth. From the wattlebird family, the kōkako has the most stunning song and kōkako pairs sing the longest duet of any songbird in the world. After almost becoming extinct in the Kaimai Mamaku, kōkako are making an impressive comeback with the help of intensive pest control.

Credit: DoC
Whio/blue duck… now only a visitor

No longer resident in Kaimai Mamaku, the beautiful whio/blue duck could be returned to its historic home. The Kaimai Mamaku’s remote rocky rivers with good water quality and plenty of aquatic insects are ideal, but dedicated predator control (especially stoats) is needed for us to be privileged to see the return of the whio. And if we can do that, why not weka and tieke too?

Credit: Vil Sandi
Tiny treasure Titipounamu

The North Island rifleman/titipounamu is NZ’s smallest bird. This chatty bird is one of the last two remaining species of NZ’s wren family. The titipounamu eats only insects, flicking its wings as it forages in bark and foliage. The male builds his nest in cavities, then the family group works together to feed the chicks. Titipounamu populations bounce back when pest control keeps predators at bay and browsers from destroying the forest floor.

Credit: Sy
Raucous rascal Kākā

The raucous call of the kākā means they are often heard before they are seen. This intelligent forest-dwelling parrot remembers where seasonal food sources are found and will happily fly long distances to get there. Thanks to predator control, kākā are making a comeback and are seen (and heard!) regularly in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, including in the puriri on Tauranga’s Cameron Road, and the walnut and persimmon trees in Morrinsville! In the Kaimai Mamaku, we are working to protect their traditional forest food sources such as rātā

Credit: Kathy Reid
Kārearea - Our ferocious falcon

Our beautiful bird of prey, the kārearea is uniquely adapted to hunt in both NZ’s dense forests and open country. Kārearea chasing a small bird through forest or plummeting downward in a swooping dive to surprise its prey is spectacular. This falcon is NZ’s fastest bird but they nest on the ground so controlling pests that eat eggs and chicks boosts survival of the young as well as the prey adults need to thrive.

Credit: Ashley Wahlberg
Long- and short-tailed pekapeka/bats

The long-tailed bat and the short-tailed bat are NZ’s two current bat species and both are present in the Kaimai Mamaku, although short-tailed bats are quite rare. With a threat status of nationally critical, long-tailed bats feed above the forest canopy, along forest margins, over farmland, streams and lakes and sometimes even in caves. Long-tailed bats and short-tailed bats (pekapeka) are NZ’s only native mammal species. Both species are present in the Kaimai Mamaku, with short-tailed bats (the central lesser sub-species) being quite rare.

Long-tailed bats are more common in our ranges and feed on small insects in the air above the forest canopy, along forest margins, and over farmland, streams and lakes. Long-tailed pekapeka live in small groups of 20–60 bats and change roost trees most nights. Have you seen bats in the forest?

There are three subspecies of the New Zealand short-tailed bat, each with a different conservation status. The most common species found in the Kaimai Mamaku is the central lesser short-tailed bat. Short-tailed bats are a bit larger than long-tailed bats and live in deep in the ngahere where they roost in tree cavities. Short-tailed bats are lek breeders which means the males will gather in groups and compete for females by singing or calling to attract a mate.

Credit: Chen Ming-Liang
Te Aroha stag beetle

The Te Aroha stag beetle can be found on Mt Te Aroha as well as the southern part of the Coromandel Peninsula. These flightless critters are found under fallen logs in the moist layer of decaying wood or at the base of tree trunks at night. The Te Aroha stag beetle plays a vital role in helping forest litter to decompose. The term “stag” relates to the shape of the branched mandibles and the presence of prongs which look like the antlers of male deer. However, no one really knows the purpose of these impressive prongs, so the Te Aroha stag beetle remains something of an enigma!

Credit: Shaun Lee
Predatory pupurangi/Kauri snail

The pupurangi was thought to be locally extinct from the Kaimai kauri groves until the 1980s. Te Papa Atawhai’s efforts to save the last kauri snail colonies in Northland from extinction included translocating snails to the Kaimai kauri forests, bringing the species home. Not your placid garden snail, the pupurangi is carnivorous and cannibalistic, pursuing worms, insects, larvae, and its fellow snails. It survives where pest control keeps rats at bay and thrives where worms are abundant.

Credit: Shaun Lee
Pepeketua/Hochstetter's frog

One of NZ’s four native frogs, the warty pepeketua is the most widely found of the NZ frog species, including in the Kaimai Mamaku Ranges. Being very small and travelling only small distances in their lifetime, many pepeketua populations are genetically distinct from one another, so each local population has immense biodiversity value. Intensive rat control and good hiker hygiene to prevent fungal infections are the keys to retaining our precious frog friends.

Credit: DoC
Fish - Mai uta ki tai

The health of our ngahere directly impacts our moana, on the eastern side of the Kaimai Mamaku is Te Awanui harbour home to an abundance of fish and shellfish species including snapper, kahawai, flounder, whitebait, pipi, mussels and many more!

On the western side of the pae maunga flows the Waihou river, home to Tuna, Koura, Kokopū, Kōaro and Kākahi which are abundant throughout the river. The Waihou stretches along the Mamaku Ranges past the towns of Putāruru, Te Aroha, Paeroa and Turua, before reaching the Firth of Thames at the south end of the Hauraki Gulf.

The upper catchments on both sides of the Kaimai Mamaku provide safe habitats for fish. Ongoing connectivity to the sea is critical for migratory indigenous species, and downstream habitat quality is important for those species that utilise lowland habitats.

Credit: Shirley Kerr
Fungi & plants

As well as being home to animal species, the Kaimai Mamaku supports thousands of species of plants, lichens, mosses and fungi. The area is the northern limit for silver beech, kamahi and pink pine and the southern limit of kauri, towai and a Coprosma species. As a transition zone, our forest has unique combinations of plant communities found nowhere else. It also has unique geology, unlogged areas, and “fog forests” that give our ngahere “exceptional botanical conservation values.

Community Conservation:

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Community conservation groups have been working hard in the Kaimai and Mamaku ngahere controlling pests for many years, and some groups for more than twenty years. These groups are achieving excellent results across the Kaimai Mamaku. We are very fortunate to have these groups volunteer their time and efforts in restoring our ngahere, native species and controlling pest animals.

BCA support’s community-led conservation for community conservation groups throughout the Bay of Plenty. Bay Conservation Alliance is tasked with providing shared support services to members; to increase collaboration; to help increase funding investment in conservation, and to work towards landscape scale environmental restoration and nature conservation. Go to the BCA Website >>>

Project Parore

Formed in 2004 primarily to help clean up the rivers and streams running into the Uretara Estuary, Project Parore is focused on a collaborative catchment management approach to water quality and biodiversity restoration, supporting landowners and residents to enhance their environmental stewardship. The area’s Project Parore covers are the 8 catchments of the northern Tauranga Harbour – Aongatete, Waitekohe, Te Mania, Rereatukahia, Uretara (includes Katikati township), Tahawai, Tuapiro, Waiau.

My future aspirations for the Kaimai Mamaku, is that the trees and plants be nurtured and
continue to flourish to create an environment that is natural and beneficial for all the manu and
insects that live within the Kaimai Mamaku.

Whakamarama Community Inc

Whakamarama Community Incorporated is a local community group that was founded in 2005 by residents of the Whakamarama community. This group has a collective focus on ensuring the concerns of residents are heard and communicated. The group supports both Friends of Puketoki and Friends of the Blade by securing funding for various pest control and environmental projects.

Te Whakakaha Trust

Te Whakakaha Conservation Trust was founded to ensure the long-term survival of the ancient and critically endangered Otawa Hochstetter’s frog. Genetically distinct from other species, the Otawa Hochstetter’s frog is only found in this location, which some of was once a quarry site. Otawa Scenic Reserve was officially designated a sanctuary in December 2016 and the Trust now supports an active volunteer network to restore and protect the ecology of this precious area, in conjunction with the Department of Conservation, district and regional councils and local iwi.

Kōkako Ecological Expansion Project

The KEEP vision is to help Kōkako already thriving in isolated pockets connect via ecological ‘corridors’, linking the managed Bay of Plenty Kōkako populations. The first major goal of KEEP is to link the Kaharoa and Ōtānewainuku populations. It is envisaged, if successful, that Kōkako will disperse across the landscape and share genetics, that will increase species resilience.

There are three subspecies of the New Zealand short-tailed bat, each with a different conservation status. The most common species found in the Kaimai Mamaku is the central lesser short-tailed bat. Short-tailed bats are a bit larger than long-tailed bats and live in deep in the ngahere where they roost in tree cavities. Short-tailed bats are lek breeders which means the males will gather in groups and compete for females by singing or calling to attract a mate.

Aongatete Outdoor Education Centre

Focused on environmental education, outdoor safety and sustainability, the mission of Aongatete Outdoor Education Centre is to offer predominantly school-age children memorable learning experiences with activities that develop positive life skills, encourage resilience and promote a love of and connection to NZ’s native bush.

Friends of the Blade

Friends of the Blade run a pest control program covering close to 300 hectares of the Kaimai Forest Park located in Whakamarama, between Omokoroa and Te Puna. Animal pest control is the main focus of the group, with the aim of creating a pest-free environment in which the native wildlife can flourish. The trapping area and operation started by covering 100 hectares with eight traplines and now covers 654 hectares of bush with 27 traplines.

Otānewainuku Kiwi Trust

The Ōtānewainuku Kiwi Trust is a community-based conservation Trust formed by Te Puke Forest and Bird, and other members of the community concerned at the decline of North Island brown kiwi in the Ōtānewainuku Forest. Volunteers maintain the stoat trap lines and bait stations which cover 2353 hectares of forest to reduce pest numbers and give the best chance for Kiwi and Kōkako birds breeding in the forest.

Aongatete Forest Project (AFP)

Aongatete Forest Project (AFP) manages 845 hectares of native forest in the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park, between Tauranga and Katikati. The aim of the project is to restore the wildlife and plant life to a part of the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park and demonstrate the benefits of pest control. Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku Trust also funds a iwi/hapū led project with Ngai Tamawhariua that works alongside AFP with a focus on regeneration of the forest floor and replenishment of native flora and fauna through pest control.

History

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The Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park is rich in history and contains a number of historic sites.

Mining & Kauri Logging:

In 1881 gold was found in the Waiorongomai Valley by Hone Werahiko, drawing many prospecting parties to the area. Mining soon began, with a large number of mines and associated industries (such as the huge Victoria Battery in the Karangahake Gorge) being built and operated in the area. Many remains from the mining industry remain today and can be found across the Kaimai Mamaku, particularly in the northern Kaimai area.

This new industry caused a huge demand for timber, with kauri first being taken from within the park around 1875. Much of the kauri timber was felled in locations with difficult access because of the rugged terrain. To transport the timber from these difficult locations, dams were constructed to build up a volume of water to which could then be released, floating the logs downstream. Dams were built on streams and rivers throughout the Kaimai Mamaku ngahere with remnants still intact to this day.

Recreation

Historic Walks

The northern end of the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park features over 350km of walking and tramping tracks, including the Kaimai Heritage Trail, which displays some of the best examples of 19th-century New Zealand mining heritage. Historic pack-horse tracks and bush tramways are now used as tramping and walking tracks that take in building ruins and other relics from the gold mining and logging era. The southern end of the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park features bush walks along historic tramways, as well as the spectacular Wairere Falls.

In the ngahere, it is dark or dappled, damp and mossy, loud with birdsong, buzzing and moving, protective like a korowai, riaka is balanced, layered and diverse, a mushroomy sweet smell, spongy underfoot, soil is damp and alive. In the awa, wai is sparkling and clear or lightly coloured, tastes of minerals, cold to touch, quiet pools and rushing riffles, fish darting, insects crawling on submerged stones and flying above, shaded with mossy ferny banks. It is seeing, hearing and feeling the energy and vibrancy of the place, knowing that te Taiao is bursting with life. 

There are simple ways we could measure the return of mauri. An increase in taonga species (like kokako or kiwi breeding pairs, kākahi returning to streams), the volume and diversity of birdsong, the density of understory plants, and the cover of canopy trees. Monitoring and measurement are crucial to ensure our actions are contributing positively to the mission.  

We have a vision for the future and a mission to get there, so what exactly are we going to do? (Link this to the MKMT strategic plan)

Tramping & Huts

There are 8 backcountry huts located within the Kaimai Mamaku area open to the public for use anytime of the year. To access serviced huts a booking is necessary which can be purchased at the Tauranga & Rotorua DOC offices or visitor Information Centres in Rotorua, Waihi, Paeroa, Katikati, Te Aroha and Tauranga. The Department of Conservation maintains the Waitawheta hut while the seven remaining huts are maintained by the Kaimai Ridgeway Trust.

Kaimai Ridgeway Trust

The Kaimai Ridgeway Charitable Trust (KRT) was formed in 2015 and is managed by representatives from many tramping clubs, deer stalker branches and lots of individuals all with the clear ambition of working in consultation with both DOC and Iwi to improve all of the tracks and huts throughout the Kaimai utilising volunteer effort. Since then 18,000 hours of volunteer effort has been invested in the backcountry facilities. Most of 120 plus kilometres of tracks and the seven huts under KRT Care & Maintenance Programme have improved significantly and are greatly appreciated by an ever-increasing number of trampers, school groups, family groups and hunters.

Kaimai Mamaku Huts:

Hunting:

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With a large track network and many access points, the Kaimai Mamaku range is well used by hunters, especially as a food source. Most of the Conservation Park has been free from toxins and the absence of chemicals and pollutants makes the Kaimai Mamaku a good source of free range organic meat harvesting. Wild venison and pork being are an important food source for recreational hunters and their families across the Bay of Plenty and Waikato. With more than 2,000 hunting club members across the region and approximately 5,000 hunting permits issued each year, the Kaimai Mamaku plays an important part in the lives of hunting Kiwis.

New Zealand Deerstalker Association – Bay of Plenty (NZDA – BOP)

There are more than 2,000 hunting club members across the Bay of Plenty and Waikato  and approximately 5,000 hunting permits issued for the  Kaimai Mamaku range  annually . As a result, wild venison and pork are an important local food source for recreational hunters and their families. The New Zealand Deerstalker Association – Bay of Plenty (NZDA – BOP) is one of three local branches with long involvement with conservation efforts. Branch members built a deer exclosure fence to support the Aongatete Forest Project with the protection of threatened king fern. NZDA members are encouraged to support native species conservation  and educated on deer population management.

 

White water rafting

The Grade 5 Wairoa River is renowned for having some of the best white water action in New Zealand. Located in the Bay of Plenty within the Kaimai foothills, this adrenaline pumping rafting experience includes challenging and intense boulder gardens & waterfalls aptly named the ‘Rollercoaster’ ‘Mothers Nightmare’ and the ‘Waterfall’.

Canopy Tours

Awarded the world’s best nature experience in 2021, Rotorua Canopy Tours offers a unique experience of the Southern Mamaku forest. Zipline through 1000-year-old trees, wander across swing bridges and experience New Zealand’s rare flora and fauna. The Canopy Trust is also committed to transforming the Dansey Road Scenic reserve into a pest free environment. A 35km trapping network has been put in place and has successfully removed thousands of introduced pests.

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