It’s a little piece of English woodland only a few minutes drive from Kerikeri’s central business district.
And until recently Roland’s Wood on Inlet Road was one of the town’s best-kept secrets.
But a growing number of people are discovering the 4-hectare woodland which Roland Sansom bequeathed to the community as a wooded park and dog exercise area when he died in 1998.
Kerikeri Rotary member John Horrell spends most days maintaining the wood which the club has adopted as a community project.
He says the number of people visiting Roland’s Wood has increased dramatically in the last six months.
“People are coming from as far as Coopers Beach to see the bluebells in the spring.”
The wood is a great place for summer picnics and is popular with dog walkers year-round, he says.
“It’s unique. There is no place like this in Kerikeri for dogs to exercise.”
The Trust has spent about $50,000 of $200,000 Mr Sansom gifted for the wood’s upkeep creating a visitor car park, replacing perimeter fences and installing seats and a picnic table.
Members recently finished clearing the last weed-infested area of the wood.
“The bulk of the work is completed.”
They plan to plant more deciduous trees in the cleared area which is a swampy gully with ponds.
“In the fullness of time, the wood will look after itself,” Mr Horrell says.
Iain Morrison set up Friends of Roland’s Wood and has just retired as an advisory trustee of the Roland’s Wood Trust which the Far North District Council administers.
He says Mr Horrell and other Rotary members, including John Graham, have done an enormous amount of work at the wood.
“They’ve taken it from a jungle to a lovely park.”
The trust and the council invite dog owners to use the woodland as a dog walking area when the Kerikeri Domain is closed for rugby training during the Rugby World Cup.
“We encourage people to let their dogs off their leads, but we ask them to clean up after their dogs and keep them under their control.
“Under the trust deed, this is a safe place for people and dogs.”
Phone John Graham at Kerikeri Rotary Club on 407 9510 if you would like to help the club look after the wood.