A number of threatened plant and wildlife species live in the Tongariro Forest, including woodrose (Dactylanthus taylorii), two wetland orchids, North Island brown kiwi, kaka, falcon, blue duck, kereru and both long and short-tailed bats.
Between 1903 and 1978, State Forest 42 supported 43 timber mills. Hundreds of millions of board feet of timber were extracted before a dwindling supply of accessible trees saw the decline of these mills. In the 1970s and 1980s, the New Zealand Forest Service proposed to have much of the Tongariro Forest converted to farmland and pine plantations. A strong campaign from the local community, Federated Farmers, Royal Forest & Bird, Rifle, Rod & Gun, the local tramping club, Rotarians and Borough and County Councils wanting the area preserved as a park for conservation and recreation as well as protection of Owhango's water supply catchment, saw all remaining native forest transferred to the Department of Conservation in 1987. Through the kiwi sanctuary, pest and predator control and native regeneration this is the 'forest of the future'.
Tongariro Forest Conservation Area stretches from National Park in the south to the Waituhi Saddle in the north and lies between Tongariro National Park and Owhango.
Four wheel driving
Mountain biking and cycling
The forest offers exciting mountain biking and four wheel driving over old forestry roads and tracks and is a favourite hunting area for many. There is also excellent fishing in the rivers and streams in the forest. It also offers great horse riding, but care should be taken with horses as the traverse is used by multiple users, including 4WD vehicles.
The 42 Traverse is an old logging road that cuts through Tongariro Forest and is popular with mountain bikers for its challenging terrain and suberb views. It gets it's name from the original State Forest 42 as well as being 42km long. 4WD vehicle access on the 42 Traverse is open between 1 December and 30 April only, and 4WD vehicles are not permitted off this route. There is no acess to any other roads off the 42 Traverse. This is a rough 4WD track unsuitable for SUV's, and recovery gear should always be taken with you. Care is needed as river levels can rise quickly after rain. Always cross waterways only after checking they are safe.
This track is gaining popularity among mountain bikers for it's challenging terrain and superb views. The ride takes approximately 6-8 hours from Kapoors Rd to Owhango, with several river crossings, taking in regenerating forest, the awesome Canyon valley and finishing with a fantastic downhill. Riders should equip themselves with appropriate clothing and equipment, spare brake pads, map and compass and food and drink. Dogs are only permitted in the forest if they have been through a certified kiwi aversion course. Mountain bikers and 4WD users can help say NO to Didymo: Always thoroughly clean your bike or vehicle before and after trips to avoid spreading weeds and diseases.
Plan and prepare
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip. Alerts
4WD vehicles are not permitted through the 42 Traverse from 1 May until 1 December.