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Gray's Bush Scenic Reserve Walks

1024 Back Ormond Road, Riverdale, Bay of Plenty 4071 New Zealand

Free to Visit
  • Independent
  • Wheelchair
  • Public
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“These walks pass through a remnant of the tall kahikatea (podocarp) forest which once covered much of the Gisborne plains - the shorter option is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.”

There are two main tracks that loop and link within the reserve. Both are reached from the car park. The 15-20 minute wheelchair-accessible loop track is clearly marked, allowing wheelchair users to immerse themselves in native bush and view interpretation signs along the way.

The reserve is on flat land, and is small enough to roam and explore freely. A full circuit of the tracks takes 40-60 minutes at an easy pace.

Getting there

Gray's Bush Scenic Reserve runs alongside the Back Ormond Road, about 10 km north-east of Gisborne.

The car park and entrance is located on Back Ormond Road, at the turn off to Harper Road. The reserve is signposted from Back Ormond Road.

Nature and conservation

Unique vegetation - Gray's Bush Scenic Reserve is a small but significant remnant of the tall kahikatea (podocarp) forest that once covered much of the Gisborne plains, until cleared and drained for farming and agriculture.

The reserve is semi-coastal in character and has a dominant canopy of kahikatea, with a significant presence of puriri. This kahikatea/puriri forest type is nationally rare, and is the only surviving example on the Gisborne plains.There are also broadleaved trees such as pukatea, mahoe and tawa, with occasional kohekohe and rare matai. Most of the taller kahikatea in Gray's Bush are between 400 and 500 years old. The forest is well-preserved with some individual trees reaching heights of up to 40 metres.

The bush grows at the base of an alluvial fan descending from the hills to the north-east, on the edge of the flood plain of the Waipaoa River. The trees are supported by a slow-draining, clay loam soil typical of the plains, the area is less than 30 m above sea level.

The undergrowth is quite dense, predominant species include kawakawa, nikau and occasional small broadleaved shrubs, ferns and herbs. There are some areas with native grass (Oplismenus imbecillus) and kiekie in the damper parts of the reserve.


The reserve also provides a nesting, resting and feeding habitat for native and introduced bird species, including bellbird, fantail, goldfinch, harrier hawk, kingfisher, magpie, pheasant, pipit, redpoll, silver eye, skylark, sparrow, thrush, tui, grey warbler, shining cuckoo and blackbird.

There are also some kereru (native wood pigeon) and the rare North Island kaka is a seasonal visitor too.

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Gray's Bush Scenic Reserve Walks

1024 Back Ormond Road
Bay of Plenty
4071 New Zealand
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