Rotokare/Barrett Domain is a 36ha blend of open spaces, plantations, bush, a wetland area (lagoon) and walking tracks. The domain is also a wildlife refuge.
There are three main walks and two side-walks that you can take in the domain. They can be enjoyed individually or linked to form a longer walk.
Entrance: The main entrance is Roto Street and you can also access the domain from Davies Road and Alba Street.
Cowling Plantation Walk (10 minutes return)
Enter the domain from Roto Street and walk about 200m down a gravel track. The start of this walk is on your right at the Fred Cowling memorial seat.
This tracks continues to Alba Street and exits the domain, or you can cross the bridge at the T junction and walk through the bush to a grassed area. You can continue on to the Rayward Bush Walk or return to the main track.
Rayward Bush Walk (20 minutes return)
From the Roto Street entrance, walk down the gravel track past the Cowling Plantation sign until you come to the Rayward Bush Walk sign on your right.
Walk over a grassed area, keeping the small pond on your left. Follow a grassed track up a small hill and enter the bush near the top of the sign. This area has regenerating forest plants which include tawa and kohekohe.
On exiting the bush you will find yourself in an open grassed area. Continue on to your right towards the lagoon or the left, returning to the main entrance via the main track.
Lagoon Bush Walk (30 minutes return)
This walk can be started from the Davies Road entrance or from the main track via Roto Street.
From Davies Road, walk about 200m down the hill and across the bridge, then follow the lower track to the left that runs alongside the Mangaotuku Stream.
About 200m along you will come to a T junction. The track to your left (a no-exit track) follows the Mangaotuku Stream down to a small gully that the water has carved out – there is an option to head up out of the gully to a lookout. The track to your right at the T junction continues up the hill towards the lagoon. At the top of the hill is an intersection of tracks. The tracks on your right will take you to Rayward Bush or the Sir Victor Davies Memorial Planting. The other two tracks will take you to Rotokare/Barrett Lagoon.
Located between Mangaotuku Stream and the lagoon, Lagoon Bush is the most extensive tract of forest within the domain (totalling about 9ha). This area not only survived the clearing of land by early settlers but also the Great Fire of Upper Westown in March 1888, which scorched 1,012ha of land.
Expect to see tawa, kohekohe and other native canopy trees including pukatea, rewarewa, karaka, puriri, remu, matai and titoki.
Barrett Domain is a popular wildlife refuge and an invaluable source of food for water birds. It is an important link between the coast and larger tracts of forest and wetland further inland, enabling bird species to move freely across the landscape.
Sir Victor Davies Memorial Planting
The plantings in this area commemorate the work of respected nurseryman and former Barrett Domain Board Chairman, Sir Victor Davies (1887-1977), who was an authority on trees and shrubs and had a long association with the New Zealand horticultural industry.
Trees in this area include kowhai, kohuhu, lemonwood , totara, rimu, mahoe, black maire, akeake, cabbage tree, kawakawa and karamu, as well as some large coastal banksia.
Kororako Pa is an archaeological site that was once home to Maori chief Ererua Te Puke Ki Mahurangi.
The land parcel including Kororako Pa was added to the domain in 2012. It was previously pasture and has since been planted out with native trees.
Rotokare/Barrett Domain is named after the original name of the lagoon, Rotokare (‘rippling waters’) and well-known English pioneer Dicky Barrett.
Barrett was gifted the domain from Maori chief Ererua Te Puke Ki Mahurangi when he married the chief’s daughter Wakaiwa (Rawinia) in 1828.
In the early 1900s Mr Honeyfield (a descendent of Barrett’s) donated the land as a reserve to the people of New Plymouth.
Another benefactor was Fred Cowling. He planted 2ha of his land in kauri trees in the early 1940s and gifted it to the people of New Plymouth. Fred Cowling was very passionate about trees and his legacy is now one of the largest plantations of kauri outside their natural distribution area.
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