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The history of the area that the trails wind through is largely dominated by the story of the Sand Stabilisation Projects.

Places and People 

Helensville -  Te Awaroa

The area around Helensville was originally called Te Awaroa, meaning "The long path" or "The long river valley". 

The first European settlers in the district were Scottish timber millers named McLeod but who had actually come from Nova Scotia to New Zealand. John McLeod built a house which he named "Helen's Villa" in honour of his wife, and the name soon became that of the surrounding settlement.

Mr Restall

AA Restall was Senior Forest Ranger, in Woodhill Forest for the N.Z. Forest Service.  He was pivotal figure in the fight against the rampant dunes, and the planting of the forest.   

His largest contribution was in developing methods and machinery to perform large scale planting on dunes.

Restall Road is named after him, and there is a small placque memorialising his achievements. 

The Nursery

The nursery campsite is currently used by WFEP as the only camping area within the forest.  However, its original purpose was as one of the nursery areas for young plants and trees used to plant the dunes. 

The nursery

A Timeline

  • Land covered in Native Vegetation
  • Large fire of unknown origin eradicates large tracts of forest and bush
  • In 1820 the missionary Samuel Marsden was taken on to the sandhills behind Rewiti to Rangatira Beach.

“The sandhills are very high, and command a wide prospect on the sea and in the interior. There is no vegetation upon them and the sands shift with the contending winds. They are several miles broad, and extend along the coast both to the left and to the right as far as the eye can see.”
  • 1860s European grazing animals  accelerate  problems
  • 1873 James Stewart reports fully grown trees buried by dunes
  • 1874 NZ Forest Act
  • 1880s The railway line reached Woodhill, and allowed expansion of the existing farming settlement
  • 1903 Sand Drift Act
  • 1909 120,000 ha of land under sand
  • 1913 Public Works Dept begins some attempts at stabilisation
  • 1932 unemployment relief fund (depression job scheme) begins mass planting schemes
  • 1989 Crown Forests Assets Act - Sale of Forest cutting rights to Carter Holt Harvey
  • 2012-2013 Ngati Whatua o Kaipara Treaty Settlement