14 km
No dogs on this trail
Information for this trail was last updated March 2024

The track that winds through Whinray Scenic Reserve, 90 minutes' drive from Gisborne, was originally built to be a road. For 30 years, this was part of the only formed route between Opotiki and Gisborne, designed for the transport of the time -- horses pulling drays. Now it is a beautiful track that follows a gentle gradient below tall native forest.  

The bush can be seen reclaiming the old road formation. Many trees of 100 years old or so grow on the old roadway, and sprout from the cuttings. The bench track was well constructed and has been maintained in recent years.

Information signboards at the Motu Falls picnic area, at the start of the track, describe the forest -- a rare example of the type of forest that originally covered the entire district. It has never been milled and as a result of this giant rimu, totara, matai, miro and kahikatea can be seen towering above the forest canopy.

Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust and Department of Conservation have established a network of monitored pest traps throughout the reserve. Species thriving here include kiwi and weka, bellbird, tui, tomtit, kereru and ruru as well as less common species like rifleman, robin, falcon, kaka, and whitehead. 

The 1994 Motu Falls suspension bridge affords a magnificent view of the Motu River falls upstream falls and rapids downstream, as well as tall native forest within the reserve.

History of the trail

This bush track was cut through from the Opotiki side by armed constabulary and other works teams from 1872-77.

In June 1877, the Editor of the Bay of Plenty Times wrote about the completion of the new bridge at Motu Falls: 

“From what we can learn, the road, which it may be mentioned is at present only cut to a width of eight feet, is passable for travellers on horseback in fine weather, but is the roughest of roads to travel when the contrary is the case...continual supervision will be necessary to keep it clear from obstructions caused by falling trees and landslips.” The route was known as the Opotiki and Ormond Road. It went from east of Opotiki up to the Whitikau and Marumoko valleys and through what is now Whinray Reserve.

Tips & Logistics

Follow Motu Falls Road from Motu, to start walking on this track, which is a "there and back" walk. From a picnic area at Motu Falls, and a swing bridge over the Motu River, the track is 7km to Marumoko Road, and the same back again. This may be too far for young children, but a walk of a few kilometres each way will bring you within sight and hearing of many native birds and tall forest trees.

From the car park on Motu Falls Road, a set of steps leads down to the picnic area, swing bridge, and the start of the track on a terrace just below the road.