The area known as Pukenui Forest, or Western Hills, is a dominant feature and treasure of the people and city of Whangarei. The eastern fringes of the forest are bounded by the edge of the city itself – from Maunu in the South to Western Hills Drive and Kamo in the North.
The forested region includes the land parcels of:
- Whau Valley Water Catchment (865 hectares)
- Pukenui Forest (592 hectares)
- Coronation Scenic Reserve (102 hectares)
- Barge Showgrounds (64.6 hectares)
- Maunu Scenic Reserve (38.7 hectares)
- Whangarei Quarry Gardens (24.2 hectares)
- and a number of smaller reserves and parks
The region has been colloquially referred to as “the lungs of the city” (Whangarei) and contains areas of high conservation value, historic and cultural sites and a range of recreational opportunities.
It is a relatively large area of native (temperate) lowland broadleaf forest, a type of habitat now rare in New Zealand. It is known to contain a number of threatened species, including long-tailed bat, North Island brown kiwi and New Zealand wood pigeon.
The area also contains sites of importance to Maori and Europeans, including the Kauika Pa site, Pa of Te Parawhau and remnants of former logging and quarrying activities.
The region is also an important source of high-quality water for the residents of Whangarei, with the Whau Valley Water Catchment supplying 50 – 60% of the water to the City Water Supply Area.