Kotukutuku Gully, Maketu

The walking track through the Kotukutuku Gully is a short walking track, about 600 metres long, running parallel to Little Waihi Road between Hapimana Road and Whenuariri/Kiokio Places. The track is well formed, with steps at and near the eastern end only. The gully has historical significance, and the restoration work has been done by volunteers with planting of native plant species throughout the gully. There are no designated parking areas by the track end points, but it is possible to park a few vehicles by the Hapimana Road entrance.

The gully takes its name from the Kotukutuku tree. The walkway was opened in 2010 after a three-year restoration project. There is a short description of the track and the gully on the Western Bay of Plenty District Council web site, and there is a private group on Facebook for Kotukutuku Gully Maketu volunteers.

The information panel at the intersection of Hapimana Road and Little Waihi Road.

The text on the panel reads:

The theme of the Maketu Historical Marker series is “One Community, Two Histories”, and few things demonstrate this reality today as clearly as the Kotukutuku gully.

The Kotukutuku gully played an important role in the Maori history of Maketu. But it wasn’t always as it appears today. Its restoration as a picturesque and tranquil walkway is a current expression of the longstanding shared history of this blended Maori and Pakeha community.

From very first days of the Arawa people the gully has been the site of continuous activity. There are remnants of hangi stones (earth oven), middens (shell waste), and cultivation. One can only imagine the flow of people and goods along this pathway. It also provided a strategic benefit in times of conflict. The gully allowed warriors to slip into the Little Waihi Estuary and surprise enemies attempting to attack the pa on Okurei point.

Over time the gully ceased to be used for travel. It became overgrown and, sadly, a dumping ground for trash. In 2009, a restoration of Kotukutuku was begun. With the consent of the landowners, Te Arawa Lakes Trust, and through the extensive efforts of local volunteers and community organisations, the Kotukutuku Gully has been transformed.

Take the short stroll through the length of the gully, and enjoy the tranquility among the many native species which have been replanted here. Perhaps you will hear the song of a Tui or whirring of a Wood Pigeon in flight, two native birds which have returned to this place. Reflect on the thousands of feet that walked on the very pathway you travel.

The Kotukutuku Gully is a living, breathing expression of Maketu.

Looking into the gully from Hapimana Road. A small stream, seen on the left, runs through the gully. The entrance is near the vehicle on the far right.

The entrance, information panel, and start of the track at Hapimana Road.

Looking back to the entrance and Hapimana Road.

Many of the plants have small panels with the names of the trees. Here a Kumarahou, also known as Gumdigger’s Soap, since the flowerheads were used as soap by gumdiggers to remove gum.

There are also a few fruit trees growing in the gully. Here a feijoa with fruit, which visitors are apparently free to enjoy. There’s also an orange tree near the top or eastern end of the track.

The all-weather track is wide and well maintained by the volunteers.

Some of the older and taller trees include Kauri, such as this one with a marker on the right, and a smaller one to the left of centre.

There are also some larger exotic trees.

A series of easy steps near the eastern end of the track.

The final set of steps before the track ends on Little Waihi Road, opposite Whenuariri/Kiokio Places. The orange tree on the left is full of fruit, although these were far from ripe.

The eastern end of the walking track is not marked, but is located on LIttle Waihi Road across from Whenuariri/Kiokio Places. The handrail from the steps can be seen just to the left of and under the trees at the centre of the photo.

The total track length is about 600 metres, and took about 10 minutes to walk in each direction. The aerial image, from Bing Maps, shows the Kotukutuku Gully with the walking track visible as it runs parallel to Little Waihi Road.

The track was walked on March 26, 2022.

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