At 91 years old, the Puketoki Reserve track is the one of the oldest walks in the area. Just off Barrett Road between Te Puna and Katikati, it is a beautiful walk for young families or anyone wanting a short, stunning jaunt through native bush along the Te Puna Stream. On the carpark side there is a small waterfall and a picnic area. Across the road is the start of the walk and the toilets. Upon entering the forest, there is an information board describing the logging life and an old tramway carriage to climb on and ask many questions about.

One Tuesday Adventure day, Sadie (4) and I took Betty (the dog) out to Puketoki Reserve with our friends Joanie, Imari (5), and Maitlyn (2 1/2). We opted for the long loop, including the rata vine side trip. Maitlyn, a determined preschooler, walked the whole way herself. The older girls carried their own daypacks stocked with changes of clothes and lunch. We stopped frequently to spot the fungi and the ferns and hushed as we scanned the trees until we spotted the kererū (native wood pigeon). It was early fall so a bit chilly for togs, though we noted the swimming hole along the track and put it on the list for a summertime visit.

The long loop track narrowed in some places, had interesting roots to navigate, and a few steps. My GPS watch didn’t connect to the satellite that day, so I’m not sure of the exact distance, but at an extremely leisurely pace, the trek took us just over 2 hours. We celebrated with a picnic and a play near the stream. Beware as there were some unexpected slippery spots on the rocks near the water.

Just past the picnic spot on the drive out, we stopped the car to say hello to the neighbouring donkeys: Little Jack and Cherry Bank Samson. They are owned by Bruce and Lynne Heaton who invite donkey greetings, but they ask that visitors don’t feed the donkeys.

Puketoki Reserve is an all weather walk (with appropriate gear, of course). It might be a little bit muddy in heavy rain, but trampers are somewhat sheltered in the gorgeous native forest. It's highly recommended as a short stop to stretch your legs, a training walk for longer adventures, or a stroll for the little ones and their grandparents.

Update:  Here's summertime story at Puketoki Reserve and the nearby fabulous swimming hole.  

Location: 43 Leyland Rd, Whakamarama 3176
Route Choices: Short Loop or Long Loop
Optional: Rata Vine side trip

Long Loop with Rata Vine side trip
Distance: 2km (approximate)
Time: 1-3 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Buggies: A few steps and roots (possible to lift your buggy up or down if that’s something you can normally do), not steep, wide bridged streams.

Short Loop
Distance: <1km (approximate)
Time: 1 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Buggies: No steps (I think!), not steep, wide bridged streams.

Toilets: Yes
Dogs: Yes

More ideas for tramping with kids in Tauranga?  Check out Motuopuhi IslandOtawa Trig, or Tuhua Kauri Grove