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Severe tree damage during recent storms in Rotorua has resulted in parts of the Whakarewarewa Forest being closed to the public for a number of weeks while urgent harvesting is undertaken to make the area safe.
The top of the Tokorangi ridgeline area will be closed from Thursday (19 May) until the end of August, resulting in a number of roads and mountain biking, walking and horse tracks being out of commission for a period of time.
Rotorua District Council’s Redwoods Forest & Visitor Centre manager Julianne Wilkinson says old crop radiata pine in the area have become unstable due to prolonged exposure to recent high winds. She says there has also been significant ‘wind throw’ blocking roads and tracks, with fallen trees and suspended broken branches becoming a potential danger.
“More high winds are likely to continue to cause trees to fall meaning there is a major risk to users, and to healthy trees in adjacent stands. In order to make the area safe for recreational users the trees need to be removed as soon as possible.
“It’s important that forest users keep informed about tracks and roads that are closed and obey directions on all forestry warning signage.
Ms Wilkinson says forestry trucks will also be operating in the forest along two main access roads.
“The area being harvested is very unstable and the big trucks operating cannot react quickly and safely when they are carrying heavy loads. We don't want forest users to put themselves or forestry workers at risk by ignoring the warning signs.”
Signs with maps and information will be located at main entry points to the forest and available on The Redwoods website www.redwoods.co.nz and Facebook page.
The Tokorangi Forest, which is popularly known as The Redwoods, is bounded by Tarawera, Long Mile, Radio Hut and Tokorangi Pa roads. The land is privately owned by iwi through Central North Island Iwi Holdings Ltd and managed by Rotorua District Council.
Tokorangi Pa Walking Track (Purple)
Whakarewarewa Tramping Circuit (Black)
Corridor MTB track
Eastern Spice & North Face MTB Track
K2 MTB track
Gunna Gotta MTB Track (open weekends)
Tokorangi Pa horse trail
Katore -Wash horse trail
Tokorangi Pa Rd and part of Katore Rd
Caution - The following roads will be used by trucks: