The Te Waotu region of the South Waikato is home to some of the region's prime farming land. A drive through the area treats visitors to views of green rolling hills scattered with dairy cows.

Visitors can also stop for a break at the Te Waotu Native School which was opened in 1886 thanks to the efforts of Rongowhitiao Te Puni. Rongowhitiao gifted the land for the school and sought support from the families outside the area to make it viable. The school's first teacher was Clara Haszard, who had been teaching at Te Wairoa School on the shores of Lake Tarawera. The original school building was moved from its original site in 1969 and is still in use today as the home of the Te Waotu - Puketurua Playcentre. An interesting story surrounds the school bell and a monument overlooking Te Waotu School is a worthwhile visit.

A good spot for lunch is the Duxfield Reserve, which was gifted to the people of Putaruru as a picnic area, by long time Matamata County Councillor John Edward (Jack) Duxfield in 1968. The reserve is located along Arapuni road about halfway between the towns of Arapuni and Putaruru.

Another good spot for lunch and a relaxing walk is the Jim Barnett Reserve situated on Waotu South Road. Walter Barnett was the most prominent early miller and his sons, including Jim, continued the business. Jim Barnett's family offered the 16ha as a reserve and it was formally opened on site in 1992 by the then Minister of Conservation, Dennis Marshall. The reserve is home to some impressive Totara and Rimu trees which remained after milling in the area stopped.

Page reviewed: 11 Aug 2014 8:33am