Waiuku Forest

Waiuku Forest in the Waikato offers a diverse range of recreational opportunities for the public. Find out about public access and how recreational groups can book events in the forest.

About Waiuku Forest

Waiuku Forest is located on the west coast of Waikato District, south-west of Auckland city. It borders the Tasman Sea and the northern shore of the Waikato River.

The forest is part of the Crown's forestry estate and is managed by Crown Forestry. Commercial operations include the mining of iron sand by New Zealand Steel for the Glenbrook Steel Mill. Other activities include forestry and livestock grazing.

Recreational opportunities in the forest include horse trekking, walking, picnicking, and fishing. Parts of the forest can be booked by approved recreation groups for club events such as orienteering and car rallies.

Hunting and camping overnight are not permitted in Waiuku Forest. During periods of high fire danger, the forest may be closed for public access. Updates will be posted on this web page.

The use of chainsaws within the forest is strictly prohibited due to the extreme risk of accidents at all times, and fire risk during summer.

Opening hours

The forest opens at 7am and closes at 6pm every day.

Restrictions and warnings

We've fenced off both sand slides on the northwestern boundary to reduce erosion. However, there are tyre marks that show that drivers are still using the track.

It's important that you keep off the track and avoid using the bypass created by recreational vehicles. We're planning to fence off the bypass. This area is closed to all recreational vehicle users.

Pay attention to the new signs which highlight the risk of dying trees along the coastal boundary. The risk of falling trees can climb during periods of high wind or rain.

Location map and directions to the forest

The forest has a network of unsealed roads, walking tracks, and trails. The Waiuku Forest map shows the locked gate entrances, roads and parking, horse and walking trails, and fishing and picnic areas. There is no public access to the areas used for mining and forestry operations.

Download the Waiuku Forest map [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Events calendar

Approved recreational groups can make a booking to use parts of the forest for certain activities.

Calendar of events [PDF, 809 KB]

Making a booking and collecting gate keys

To book an event, you must be an approved recreational group.

Approved recreational user groups and authorised key holders [PDF, 95 KB]

If you want to check your recreational group is eligible and approved to use the forest for your event, contact Crown Forestry – email shona.frame@mpi.govt.nz

Complete a booking form

Once you're an approved user you can book an event. First, check the events calendar to see if the date for your event is available. Bookings can be made up to 12 months in advance.

The conditions of key pick-up, access, and use of the forest are listed on the event application form. Complete the form and return it to Crown Forestry.

Download the event application form [PDF, 172 KB]

Send your completed form to:

Gate key pick-up and returns

Approved recreational groups, who have permission to run an event in Waiuku Forest, can collect a gate key from the Waiuku Information Centre. The key gives them access to areas within the forest for the duration of their event.

The key must be signed out by a person named on the list of authorised key holders.

Waiuku Information Centre
2 Queen Street
Phone: 09 235 6231

Opening hours
Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 3pm (June to October)
Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm (November to May)

History of Waiuku Forest

Waiuku Forest was established by the former Public Works Department in 1932 as a protection forest to prevent the spread of sand onto adjacent farmland. Marram grass was planted to stabilise the sand, then tree lupin to provide nutrients and shelter for the pines, which were first planted in the 1930s.

In 1966, the Crown entered into a 100-year mining licence with New Zealand Steel Limited to extract iron sand. Trees are cleared before mining can start so a large area of the forest is not planted and is unavailable for public access. Once mining is complete over an area, mine tailings are re-spread and the area replanted.

The forest is the subject of a Treaty of Waitangi claim by local iwi Ngāti Te Ata.

Who to contact

To help us look after Waiuku forest we would appreciate your help in reporting any unsafe or suspicious activities you see.

  • Call 111 if there's an emergency or if you see or smell smoke.
Last reviewed: