WHIRINAKI FOREST PARK, NEW ZEALAND — FEBRUARY 08: Scenes around the Whirinaki Forest Park in Te Urewera National Park, on the North Island of New Zealand.

This park spans 156,000 hectors and has the largest podicarp forest in New Zealand. Podicarp forests like these date back to the Jurassic period and used to cover the whole of New Zealand. Many of these tress are speculated to be over a thousand years old.

Maori believe the Whirinaki river valley is protected by one of their female ancestors, Hinie Ruarangi (“Young Women to the Sky”). It is believed that she can materialize in white shags (cormorant bird) and if you see one in the valley it is a very bad omen.

The trails through this forest are ancient footpaths used by Maori tribes (iwis) for generations to hunt and fish and get to other valleys.

Joe Doherty
Te Urewerea Treks
+64 (0)7 366 6055

Photo By Amy Toensing