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Your contact at Pourakino Picnic Area: Roger Scott
Contact number: (03) 225-8296

Directions: Visitors new to the area should have a local resident take them to the site. Contact Roger Scott at (03) 225-8296.

Pourakino Picnic Area

The Pourakino Picnic area is part of a regenerating silver beech forest in Western Southland. It marks the site of a once large, active sawmill owned by the More family of Riverton. The mill and its associated buildings are all gone now. The picnic area is now a beautiful recreational site with easy forest walkways.

The Pourakino Picnic area is in the Longwood Forest, 10km west of Otautau and 60km west of Invercargill. Parking is outside of entrance; entry is on foot. See below for directions.

Amidst the native beech forest are picnic tables, toilets, and a 45-minute walking track. The walkway reveals historic tramlines and bridges used by early loggers, the More family. The walking track follows the peaceful Granity Stream.

In a large clearing, there used to stand a 1902 Johnston "A" class engine named Black Maria. It was originally used for hauling logs to the mill and hauling timber to the Longwood siding, south of Riverton. It was built by the J. Johnston & Sons foundry in Invercargill and is one of only two of its kind left in New Zealand. It was decommissioned in 1954 and is currently away being restored after it was vandalised repeatedly. Its final destination will be in Riverton.

Western Southland had a thriving sawmilling industry from the 1860s through to the 1950s. In the early days, native timbers such as rimu, matai, kahikatea and totara were in demand in overseas markets as well as local. However, by the 1890s all the lowland forest south of Riverton had been processed, and sawmillers began to log in the Longwood Range.

James More & Sons were well-established millers in Riverton and, in 1900, got the rights to mill in the Pourakino Valley, the western portion of the Longwoods. There, the timbers consisted roughly of 60% beech and 40% rimu. Over time, they built three sawmills within the valley as well as several kilometers of tramway to transport the timber from the mills to the Longwood siding, south of Riverton.

Workers and their families lived in huts and houses near the mills. In 1912, the More family built a school for the children of the workers. A larger school was built by the Education Board in 1941. As many as 45 children were on the roll at one time.

Otautau had several significant sawmilling operations at the same time in the Longwoods. The Thomson family in partnership with Jack and Bob Bird and later Harry McKenzie were the largest employers in Otautauís milling history.

Most of the Longwood Range is now owned by the Department of
Conservation and is highly regarded for its indigenous habitat and historic values. Milling of exotic trees (Pinus radiata) takes place in the vicinity but not in the picnic area itself.

All text and photos on this page is copyright protected (c) 2007 Cathy Onellion.



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