Home-Motu - From bush to grass

The Whinray Scenic Reserve

The upper reaches of the Motu River Valley were covered with mature forest until the 1890's when settlers began to clear the land. James Whinray, a cabinet maker and Gisborne Borough Councillor, persuaded the government to withhold a 429 hectare area of native forest land for a bush reserve, now named after him.

The five kilometre track which runs through the reserve is believed to have originally been used as a trail by Maori. It became a bridle path in European times, known as "The Military Track," and was upgraded to a dray track around 1913. It was used to drive sheep and cattle from Gisborne to the Bay of Plenty. When the Motu Coach Road was opened, use of the Whinray track declined.

The first bridge was built in 1885.In 1889 it was guarded against a possible return of Te Kooti to attack Poverty Bay. It was replaced by a single span totara structure in 1913. This was largely demolished in 1955 and the abutments were swept away in the 1988 Cyclone Bola.

A magnificent 42m suspension bridge now crosses the Motu River just down stream from the falls. The bridge was opened in 1994 after a huge fundraising effort by the local community.

 

The reserve is located just past Motu township.

By Ebony

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