Kawerau is still very much a timber town, and is situated at the base of the the 820 high Mt Edgecumbe. The huge Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill was constructed in 1953, and the town became the hub of the timber industry in the region. The carved wooden statue “Log’n of Kawerau” signifies the forest and timber industries which led to the creation of Kawerau in 1954. The axe man at the top represents the pioneers of the area, the middle panel shows the range of sporting and recreational activities available, and the lower panel was carved in the styles of the major Maori tribes of New Zealand.
There was a very important job which needed doing before we went exploring today – a trip to the local Laundromat. Dot and I were well prepared. As well as taking our laundry bags, soap power and a good supply of gold coins, we each had a folding chair plus a book to read. We were by no means first to arrive – most of the washing machines and driers were already in use by the local ladies. There was only a couple of the extra large $10 machines free, so we decided to share the machine and all our laundry went in to be washed together. By the time our wash was completed, everyone else had finished, the place was practically deserted, and we had our pick of the driers. Meanwhile Robin went to the Info Centre to purchase a Forest Access Permit for our trip, stating car rego, number and people going, and purpose of trip, (sightseeing).
Back to the vans we hurriedly packed a picnic lunch and were soon on our way, with the permit safely in the car. The 30 minute drive through the pine forests over the dirt road was slow and dusty, but we didn’t meet any of the big logging trucks, probably because it was Sunday. We ambled along the pretty bush walk beside the river, the crystal clear waters bubbling away over an amazing emerald green water weed growing in patches. The native forest was damp and lush, with plenty of ferns growing amongst the taller trees.
Huge boulders were lying everywhere when they were tossed around during the Mt Tawawera eruption of 1886. You could imagine the terrifying sights and sounds while this was taking place, and the massive boulders rained down. The forest we were walking through is relatively young and has grown since the eruption, as the forests were destroyed at the time of the volcanic activity.
The Tarawera Falls are said to be the most spectacular falls in the Bay of Plenty and plunge 65m down a sheer cliff before tumbling down bush lined rapids. The river bed around the falls is carved into ancient volcanic rocks and the high cliffs are thought to be the eroded end of an old lava flow that poured from the mountain 11,000 years ago. It is a beautiful sight indeed.
We backtracked along the forestry road till we reached the turnoff to take us to Lake Tawawera and the DOC Campground. Lots of biting insects there which decided to feast on my ankles, and plenty of wasps buzzing around while we ate our picnic lunches. The large lake was rippled by the cold wind, and we were pleased of our extra layer of clothing.
The Tarawera River drains from the lake and has been designated a sanctuary to protect trout spawning and juvenile trout rearing. We crossed over the wooden bridge and looked down at the peaceful spawning area.
Heading back on the forestry road again, we stopped to see where one of the areas where some of the logging action takes place in the forest. Looks like all the workers had Sunday off.