Walk through an unlogged native forest that was saved from the ravages of historic milling before emerging at a forest-shrouded picturesque lagoon.
This magical walk starts beside the Whakapapa River, on the edge of Tongariro Forest Park. Spend a few moments on the bridge and if you are lucky, you may spot the elusive endangered whio (blue duck). These ducks are often spotted cruising the rapids.
The lagoon walk is a well graded undulating path that takes in a summer swimming spot, a tree platform that allows you to get up close to an ancient tōtara and the main attraction, a stunning lagoon. Dangle your feet off the boardwalk’s edge and see if you can spot all the aquatic critters, and dragonflies.
From here the path continues for five minutes before popping out onto the gravel road. Walk downhill about one kilometre to the car park. Look out for the small lagoon sign post where you can duck into the forest and see the northern tip of the lagoon.
Ōwhango is a former mill town that flourished in the early 1900s when the main trunk line was completed. This ease of transportation allowed a large scale timber industry to develop and the town built 11 mills to process wood. But despite the insatiable demand for timber, the rich forest within Ohinetonga Scenic Reserve was untouched because the area was appreciated for its recreational and scenic qualities. It was formally recognised as a reserve in 1921.
Time: Allow 45min for the lagoon loop. (There is also a northern track to Boat Hole that will take 1.5hrs return).
Accessibility: Well graded track
How to get there: Turn off SH4 onto Omaki Road at Ōwhango (about 20km south of Taumarunui ). Then follow Whakapapa Bush Road down to the Whakapapa River bridge. There is plenty of parking.