I've driven past it many times, always with a shudder as I associate the place with the horrible discovery of a hitchiker's body there many years ago (2007). The name has stuck in my mostly unreliable memory because of the contrast between the gruesome nature of the murder and the prettiness of the name of the place.
When I was last in Taranaki at the end of February I asked my friend Bev to join me for a trip to see what was there. Although a local, she had never been there either. It is, after all, just a little gully in the Egmont National Park which offers many spectacular sights. But it doesn't have any trouble competing with the other attractions. It's beautiful and historic, named after Lucy Stevens (a.k.a. Ruhira Matekai) who was born in the Gully around 1820.
Just 3 kms off State Highway 45, otherwise known as the Surf Highway, up a narrow bush lined road, it's well worth a visit. At the end of the road is a picnic area surrounded by bush and redwoods and entry to several walking tracks.
Some time in the 1920s someone cleared the land and planted redwoods. Now the native trees and ferns are fighting hard to resume their place, amongst the towering redwoods.
There is wonderful feeling of peacefulness, and a light that is quite different to other native forests I've been in.