Explore an 18,000 year old peat lake before stepping inside a Jurassic forest.
Now this adventure has it all. Grassy meadow for picnicking, an activity trail around one of the Waikato’s most pristine peat lakes topped off by a stand of Jurassic looking kahikatea with wizened buttresses looming out of the ground. And maybe a friendly fantail or two.
Surrounded by predator proof fencing, this enclosure is still underdevelopment and will be the site of a national wetland centre. But right now it is a fun adventure with a mixture of well graded paths, boardwalks and dirt trails.
From the double-gate entrance, follow the grass mown strips to the lake where the trail follows the perimeter fence for the majority of the loop. There are not many views of the lake but the trail has nine interactive activity stations for kids as part of the Toyota Kiwi Guardians promotion. Play eels and ladders, mudfish scrabble or look for Fred the Thread – the world’s skinniest caterpillar.
Most of the region’s peat lakes formed after the Taupo eruption choked up sections of the Waikato River with piles of pumice and gravel blocking off small side streams. This created dams where peat – semi decayed plant matter – built up. Conditions aren’t great for plants because of the acidic water however eels and the rare black mudfish survive. There are 31 peat lakes in the Waikato region.
Distance: Allow one hour to complete the Lake Circuit and Jurrasic Forest Loop. Allow more if you are avidly reading all the activity stations.
Grade: Easy. If you are keen it is possible to push a mountain buggy around. There are mown grassed areas and dirt paths with a few exposed roots and bumps.
Location: From Hamilton head towards Ohaupo SH3. The entrance is 4 kilometres south of Ohaupo between Sowerby and Jary Road.