Opepe was the site of the most one-sided ‘battle’ of the New Zealand Wars. On the afternoon of 7 June 1869, the advance guard of the forces of the Maori guerrilla leader Te Kooti Arikirangi reached this patch of forest at the junction of several tracks between the Kaingaroa Plains and Lake Taupo. They encountered a unit of Bay of Plenty Cavalry who were looking for signs that Te Kooti was in the area. Their leader’s failure to post sentries before standing his men down resulted in nine deaths. The five survivors took several days to reach Fort Galatea, 70 km to the north-east.
There are historic sites on both sides of the highway. To the north, a short track leads to the troopers’ graves. Across the road, another short track gives access to the site of the later Opepe township and a redoubt that was built in the 1870s as one of a chain along the line of today’s Napier–Taupo road.
14 km up State Highway 5 from its junction with State Highway 1 in Taupo.
Image attribution: David Green.