Location: Pouakani, on SH30, 10 km east of Pureo
Access: car-park beside S30
Length: 0.7 km
Grade: Undulating; informal path
Status: on leash (a permit is required to take dogs into Pureora forest - but can easily be obtained free of charge from the very helpful folk at the Maniapoto area office: phone 07 878 1050; email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cafes and restaurants: none nearby
More information: http://register.notabletrees.org.nz/tree/view/757
For information on this and other walks in Pureora Forest, see http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/waikato/pureora-forest-park-brochure.pdf
There are countless small walks in New Zealand, that offer a 10 minute stroll with the dogs, and we don't usually bother with them, for just when we get into our stride it's time to turn back. This one, though, is worth it, for it takes us to a huge totara tree - the largest in ... well, I forget, but the largest somewhere.
From the rather arid and featureless car park by SH30, we enter a cool, dark world. Between the trees, shafts of sunlight gauze the air and make a brown-and-white mosaic with the leaves on the forest floor. Logs of totara turn russet and crumble beside the path. Bellbirds chime in the canopy.
For ten minutes the going is easy as the trail meanders gently downhill. Then it dips more steeply into a dank gulley. Steps takes us up again, and just afterwards we get our first siting of one of the large totara that enticed us here - just off the track on the left. All of a sudden, a line of fencing catches our eye, and we realise that standing behind it is the real giant we came to see. Its old and gnarled, but soars above us majestically. We stand at its feet feeling humble.
Before we leave, we read the information board. The girth, it says, is 10 to 11 metres and its diameter 3.6 metres. But later, when we get home and look it up on the web, we are told rather stiffly that the information on the board is wrong. The true girth is 12.2 metres, its diameter nearly 3.9 metres, and it's 42.7 metres high and has a wood volume of 203.7 cubic metres. It was planted some time around 1860 - so 150 odd years old and with plenty of years more yet.