The Kiwanis Club of Te Awamutu

KI Logo Yarndley's Bush

One of the largest remaining Kahikatea stands on the North Island

Te Awamutu Kiwanis and Yarndley's Bush:

In 1994 the Waipa District Council and the Kiwanis Club of Te Awamutu agreed to develop the Council's newly acquired scenic reserve. The council had determined that the best way to allow the public access into the forest while still protecting the regenerating vegetation and the delicate root buttress systems of the Kahikatea was to construct a raised timber walkway. A second stage of the project involved the construction of a raised viewing platform to allow a view from amongst the forest canopy. The Kiwanis Club was looking for a public service project with a high labor input that allowed all of our members to get involved. The District Council provided all the materials and work was begun in September, 1994. The Yarndley's Bush walkway and platform was officially opened by the Honorable Katherine O'Regan, Member of Parliament for the Waipa District on 5 May, 1995. The Kiwanis Club of Te Awamutu put more than 700 manhours of work into the construction project and had a great time doing it.
Horses in front of Yarndley's Bush
Horses in front of Yarndley's Bush.

Yarndley's Bush Scenic Reserve

Nestling among lush farm valleys, just four kilometers from Te Awamutu, is one of the Waipa District's most precious environmental features. At just over 14 hectares in size, Yarndley's Bush is believed to be one of the largest remaining Kahikatea stands on the North Island.
Raised timber walkway in Yarndley's Bush
Raised walkway in Yarndley's Bush.
New Zealand's tallest native tree, the Kahikatea, once covered much of the Waikato region but swamp drainage and milling for timber mean very few large stands of the tree remain. In a bid to preserve the bush for future generations, Waipa District bought the stand in 1992 and since then has worked with the local Kiwanis Club volunteers to create a boardwalk and raised viewing platform so that visitors can enjoy and learn about this unique environment.

Step inside Yarndley's Bush and you enter a different world. Under the towering canopy, the sights and sounds of the native forest greet the visitor and remind of times when much of the region was covered in thick bush such as this. The giant trees, some 35 meters high, create a natural sunshade and as you take your first steps along the wooden boardwalk, the air around feels several degrees cooler than in the open fields outside. On either side of the walkway, huge root buttresses swell from the ground and delicate ferns vie for space among the crowded foliage of the forest floor. About midway along the looping boardwalk, a raised timber viewing platform has been built to allow the visitor a unique bird's eye view of the first layer of forest canopy. The railed platform also provides an excellent study area for school parties or other interested groups wishing to spend a little longer observing the eco-system of the bush. Along the route, small signs identify interesting species of plants and trees and, at the entrance to the bush, an information board gives further facts and details.

Once widespread throughout the wetlands of New Zealand, the Kahikatea is now quite rare. Isolated trees and the odd stand can still be seen in farm fields but are often unfenced, exposing the buttressed roots and forest understorey to damage from cattle. During the last century, many Kahikatea were chopped down to clear the way for farms. The odorless timber from the tree, also known as White Pine, was widely used to make boxes in which butter was packed for exporting by ship to Europe.

Because of its size and its location in a low-lying boggy area, Yarndley's Bush is considered a fine example of Kahikatea dominant swamp forest. The area was fenced off in 1980 by the then owner, Mr. Sandy Yarndley, to protect the bush from stock and the undergrowth has since regenerated. Some Tawa and a few Pukatea trees grow alongside the Kahikatea. Many smaller shrubs, seedlings, and different varieties of fern grow from the forest floor. None of the Kahikatea, which can live for over 500 years, are fully mature. The trees are expected to thrive for many years to come, gradually giving way to other hardwood species, such as the Tawa and Pukatea, which do better in less swampy ground.

Elevated viewing platform in Yarndley's Bush
Elevated viewing platform in Yarndley's Bush.

The bush was bought by the Waipa District Council from the Yarndley family, on whose dairy farm it stands, in 1992. The National Forest Heritage Fund donated NZ$50,000 towards the purchase and the Kiwanis Club of Te Awamutu gave many hours of their time to build the boardwalk and the platform. The project has brought awards for both the Council and for Kiwanis. The Waipa District Council won an Environmental Awareness Award from Environment Waikato "for contribution to the enhancement and protection of the natural environment." The Kiwanis Club of Te Awamutu won an "Appreciation Award" from the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Society in recognition of our work on both the Yarndley's Bush and Ngaroto Lake Walkway projects.

The Yarndley's Bush boardwalk is rated as a short walk suitable for street shoes.

Location of Yarndley's Bush
Location of Yarndley's Bush. Click on the picture to see a larger version (69 kB)
To get to Yarndley's Bush from Te Awamutu, take the State Highway Three for approximately three kilometers towards Hamilton. Turn left along the Ngaroto Road. Travel about one and a half kilometers and the entrance to Yarndley's Bush is signposted on the left hand side at the entrance to the 300 meter track leading down to the reserve. Limited carparking is available at the roadside entrance. Wheelchair access requires a gate key. Please phone the Waipa District Council for this on (07)871-7133 (24 hours, seven days a week). Please keep to the boardwalk to help protect this forest for future generations.

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Page last updated by: (David Fentress) on 3 August 2008.
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