A New Forest Garden Created From Scratch By Volunteers and Still Evolving
Records show that the first voluntary working bee at the 35 hectare Waipahihi Reserve was on 1st October 1966 and it was resolved at an early stage that most development and maintenance work would be done by the members voluntarily.
Today this is still how most of the work is completed at the Reserve though contractors are used sparingly for big pruning and earthmoving projects.
Weekly working bees were for about 3 to 4 hours but have been reduced over the years to 2 hours plus time for a chat and cup of tea afterwards in the Clubrooms. Currently about 20 volunteers are involved in the weekly activities using a wide range of power equipment including tractors and ride-on mowers to trowels and pruners.
From those early beginnings growing in the Reserve there are now well over 2,000 rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas strategically intermingled in the forest trees with other feature plantings.
The best time to see the spectacular floral displays is in Spring – October and November. If the best flowering period is missed the 2km loop sealed drive provides ample opportunities to stop and view Taupo township and take in the view of Mount Tauhara and the Lake with the mountains in the distance.
Many picnic tables and seats are provided, some with views and others located in the trees and open spaces. It is an ideal place for children to play and explore the many hiding opportunities that abound. Family meet for birthdays, anniversaries, lunch, morning or afternoon tea and several areas are ideal venues for marriage ceremonies.
Throughout the Reserve there are numerous walking trails and these usually have a theme like rhododendron, camellia, lemonwood and The Floral Walk.
There are opportunities to walk in the native trees that have been preserved with specialist plantings including flax, hebe, rata and kauri that have survived the harsh winters and are now well established.
An active rodent eradication policy has enabled the birds to have a safe haven and often the only sounds heard are the birds and the rustle of the breeze in the tree tops.
Waipahihi Reserve is located at the top of Shepherd Road, the route used by stage coaches that carried travellers from the Taupo wharf to the Terraces Hotel (now the Hilton) for onward travel to Napier or Rotorua. A section of the Reserve sealed drive incorporates the Taupo – Napier Coach Road.
Open until dusk each every day the Reserve welcomes everyone and appreciates their interest in a piece of paradise in the Taupo township with a donation.
The society warmly welcomes new volunteers; no botanical knowledge is necessary, just an interest in maintaining Taupo’s most beautiful asset.
The workers meet on Thursdays over the winter months – 12.30 to 3.00 pm. Come along, get some exercise and a warm coffee afterwards!
‘A forest in the making’.
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