By Karen Shelford

Puarenga Stream Scenic Walk

The Puarenga Stream scenic walk is one of the lesser-known Rotorua walks, a hidden gem. The dual-purpose track winds through pine trees and ponga, either side of a clear stream… a cool, relaxing place to unwind on a hot summer's day.

It wasn't in the guide books because it didn't have an 'official' title. Now it has.

Why mention it? Because it's a gorgeous nature walk taking roughly 30-40mins and I would hate for you to miss out on it. My family, friends and I mostly use it as a walk but many bikers use it too.

Puarenga Stream, Rotorua, NZThis area is a nice spot to eat lunch or for contemplation. It's on the Larch Road end of the walk, on the opposite side of the road.

Any visiting friends I take to this track fall in love with it. I must say, it's always been a favourite of mine.

Parts of the walk are through a forest of Ponga that have all unique ways of growing. Some are buckled and bent like wizened old men while others have fused together to create some spectacular shapes. Then another will appear dead with a tiny sign of life growing out the top. Delightful.

I was out there recently, summer of 2023, and tree felling had taken place on a large section of the stream bank towards the far end of the walk. Talk about disappointing. It's taken a lot of the shade away so my daughter and I ended up hurrying to get out of the sun. Never mind, it doesn't take too many years before the new pinelings (is that a word) begin throwing off shade.

Getting to Puarenga Stream Scenic Walk

The Puarenga Track is found on the Waipa Mill side of the city, where the mountain bike tracks are.

If you head south from the Rotorua city center on Fenton Street you will go past Te Puia geothermal park on the left - can't miss the signage, or the steam - and come to a roundabout. Go straight through it.

A single misshapen ponga at Puarenga Stream scenic walk.A small bent Ponga (Silver Fern) tree seen on the Puarenga Stream scenic walk

The turnoff to Waipa State Mill Rd (where the mountain biking is) is on the left about 50m (160ft) over and down the other side of the rise you'll be on.

Turn in here and the main Rotorua mountain biking carpark is on your left about 100m (328ft) in. You can't miss Mountain Bike Rotorua anyway, it's plonked pretty much on the side of the road with a big sign, and a heap of carparking.

Don't turn off to go to it, continue along the road you're on until you see a barrier arm. Turn right just before this onto the bypass road and continue to Planet Bike (big signs) on the left. Drive off the road and park up anywhere beside Planet Bike or across the road if there are empty carparks.

Exit your car and continue on foot along the road past the Waipa Sawmill entrance. Just beyond it you'll walk straight ahead onto gravel. Start looking for an old concrete reservoir.

View a larger picture of the map and zoom in. I have put little little flags to show Planet Bike, the Puarenga Stream track entry point beside the old resevoir, and where the track ends and you have to turn around to return. You'll also notice a 'P' for parking.

15mins more or less should get you to the forest from the city center.

Puarenga Stream Track Directions - 20 mins one way

A Ponga Track Carving at the Rotorua Puarenga Stream walkA Ponga Track Carving

The track begins once you see the concrete reservoir, either to the right or left of it. I mostly enter from the left.

From here just follow the track as it winds alongside the stream. Seating is set every so often if you want to sit and enjoy.

The track branches sometimes but it meets up again. Wooden bridges have been placed at various points which adds some fun if you want to play.

You'll know you've reached the end when the water begins speeding up and you come to it gushing out of a large, circular, concrete pipe. Above it is Larch Road.

Go up the stairs and cross the road. You'll see a lovely area with a few bench seats and tables made out of timber.

A ponga forestA Ponga (Silver Fern) Forest

Refreshments & Toilets

It seems a bit weird to speak about food and toilets in the same breath. It shouldn't matter should it?

Sorry, but it's going to be au naturale for toileting at the Puarenga Stream track site. The closest public toilets are back at the main Mountain Bike carpark. A cafe is also available. On the other side of the biking carpark is Secret Spot Hot Tubs, a paid for activity where you can soak your feet or bathe. It's also a cafe/bar should you feel so inclined.

To finish, the Puarenga Stream scenic walk is a peaceful, lesser-known trail in Rotorua, allowing anyone an opportunity to connect with nature's charm.

Use the Contact Me page if you have any questions about Puarenga Stream scenic Rotorua walk.

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