Busy rushing down state highway 5 Taupo to Napier means visitors are missing out on quiet reserve packed with history, regenerating bush and a historic cemetery. Slow down and explore this gem located just outside Taupo.
Opepe Reserve is wrapped around part of the original Taupo to Napier road. The two lane former highway is now a quiet grassed walkway with the faint sound of vehicles on the busy modern highway nearby. The original road followed the traditional Maori tracks over the ranges and into the Lake Taupo region. The bush reserve has the remains of the logging industry with a pit saw, partly cut Totara trees and plaques describing the nineteenth century logging industry and its impact on the environment.
Opepe Reserve is now split into two with the busy state highway making crossing the road an exercise in caution. Vehicles could be travelling in excess of 100 km an hour.
Opepe Reserve: Where is it?
There is public car parking on both sides of the road.
Original Taupo to Napier highway route
For visitors it’s always a special special moment when you are retracing the footsteps of people on the overgrown highway, imaging all of those who went before. The road tracks are still visible in the grassed pathway the shape and size of a 1950’s narrow two lane highway.
The reserve is surprisingly quiet, as it abuts a major highway. Within a few paces of entering the reserve the sight and sound of a highway disappears into bird sound and forest whispers.
There are two major walks in the Opepe Reserve, Taupo.
Opepe Reserve, abandoned town, logging – Southern walking track (3km)
The longer walk is a loop track traversing the original highway, an abandoned village site (Opepe), abandoned logging equipment and mossy cut timber and beautiful lush temperate forest.
The walk is relatively flat although in wet weather it could be slippery with the vegetation.
Cemeteries, New Zealand Land Wars and virgin podocarp forest – Opepe Reserve Northern walking track (1.5km)
Opepe was the site for a short sharp military engagement between the Maori chief Te Kooti and the British colonial forces, known as the Bay of Plenty Calvary. Te Kooti took advantage of the sleeping British forces and led a successful raid against their encampment. A side track to the right near the car park brings you to the cemetary where the nine soldiers were buried. Later, residents of Opepe township and the Armed Constabulary were also buried there.
Public toilets : has a compostable toilet on site.
Safety crossing state highway five at the Opepe Scenic Reserve, Taupo.
The reserve is split in two by a major highway which you need to cross over to explore both sides of the reserve. The highway has a speed limit of 100km. Exercise caution with children crossing the road.
Allow up to an hour to explore Opepe Reserve.
Taupo has excellent short walks suitable for families with vantage points for great selfies, Lake Taupo swim spots and walks past cafes.
- Turangi walking trails for families
- 6 Taupo family friendly outdoors places to visit
- Lake Taupo short family friendly, dog friendly walks
For heritage and history buffs Taupo’s day trip, Go South to Lake Rotoaira Otamangakau and explore a 19th redoubt, the TE PORERE REDOUBT a legacy of the New Zealand Land Wars.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE
Best Bits travel guide is published by nzjane.com. Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.
Our editors independently visit tour operators, purchase tickets, pay for accommodation, and rate products and places. We are not paid to go on a tour or visit a place. We only make money if you decide to purchase a product through our website links. We promise to never accept free products from manufacturers in return for boosting their products. Read more about our affiliate programme in the terms and conditions HERE.