A slice of California in New Zealand

It’s no secret that I love the National Parks of America. One place that sits firmly at the top of my ‘to go’ list is Redwood National Park in California. You’ve probably seen the famed images of the these giant trees which can grow to a height of 379 feet and have trunk diameters of 29 feet. The oldest known redwood in the world is 2200 years old, and this sole living species of the Cypress family once used to cover 2,100,000 acres of the west coast of America. I haven’t had a chance to visit yet, so I was pretty excited to find out that New Zealand had its own redwood forest – in Rotorua, a place famed for it’s geothermal activity.

Growing in the Whakawerawera forest, New Zealand’s redwood forest was established in 1901 after  170 different trial species of trees from all over the world were planted in the forest which was recovering from the eruption of Mt. Tarawera. The Redwood grove was declared as a WW1 memorial in 1925, and a visitor centre was opened in 1978. What remains is a sprawling forest of majestic redwoods, that transports visitors to a place of childhood imagination. It’s also a destination park for mountain bikers after the first MTB trail was built in the park in the early 90’s. Australian Mountain Bike Magazine recently named the  MTB Trails as the best in the world.

We rode our bikes to the forest, and took the scenic route so we could enjoy Rotorua’s many thermal features. We had been spoilt by the porcelain basin of Yellowstone, so decided not to pay to visit the geo thermal parks. The ride to the redwoods was awesome as there is an awesome track looping right around the lake – and in some places you cycle directly over the old geothermal basin – giving you the feeling that you could be on the surface of some far flung planet because of the dusty white surface and bubbling pools belching out sulphurous smelling gases.

Arriving at the forest, we visited the i-site and decided to take an hour long track through the forest. There are lots of different tracks running through the forest for everyone from families with small children and pushchairs to experienced trampers, with durations from 10 mins to 7-8 hour hikes – all of which are accessible from the i-site.

Walking through the forest, dwarfed by these gentle green giants was truly magical. I took so many photos that day, and had so much fun going for lots of different compositions and perspectives. I made Steve stand in some very weird places much to the amusement of visitors passing us. The forest was also home to lots of fantails and tui birds, meaning that the forest was alive with bird call and the ever present hum of cicadas. For the more adventurous visitor, their is a treetop walk available so you can get a real birds eye view of the forest floor, and walk amongst the giant redwoods.

I have picked a few of my favourite photos below and hope you enjoy them.

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Have you visited the redwoods either in NZ or California? Where else should I visit in NZ?

Until the next adventure,

Steph.

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