Waipoua Forest, Northland
The Waipoua Forest is one of the things that are unique to Northland. Although you find Kauri trees in other parts of the country, especially on Coromandel Peninsula, they are still plentiful in Northland although they do not stand any comparison to the huge forests they were before the arrival of humans. Those forests also display great diversity. The contrast of the dark green of the kauri, tawa and podocarps with the light green of the many tree ferns is very appealing.
The largest kauri are comparable in age and size to the giant sequoias of California. Many are older than 1000 years. They are extremely slow-growing - which makes the extensive harvesting in earlier times the more devastating. The trees are perfectly straight, and the wood is knotless. The Maori used them for building war canoes. When the Europeans arrived, they cut the trees for building ships (especially masts) and houses. Finally - and this gave the very north of Northland the rest - gumdiggers dug the soil for the huge sap clumps of the kauri, as this was used for jewellery, called NZ amber. Today the kauri is strictly protected. On the Waitangi Treaty Grounds you can see the stump of the huge kauri from which the exhibited war canoe was carved, and get an impression of the impressive diameter.
Although everybody knows how long it takes a kauri to reach a splendid size there are still enough idiots out there who vandalise them. Just some months ago some kauri were vandalised in the Waipoua Forest.
On the way north, Trounson Kauri Park is the first place to visit (extra tip).
Next possible stops (south to north):
Waipoua Forest Lookout - From the top of the lookout tower you get a good view over the 11,000 hectares Waipoua Forest
Rickers Track - A 10min walk though stands of young kauri
The Four Sisters - A 5min boardwalk track which leads around a stand of four huge trees
Te Matua Ngahere - A 15min walk to the "Father of the Forest"; a 30min walk from the same point leads to Yakas Kauri.
Tane Mahuta - see extra tip.
Directions: On SH12, between Dargaville and Omapere.
Tane Mahuta - the "God of the Forest" - is the number one tourist attraction in the Waipoua Forest. This huge kauri is the tallest tree of the forest. It is 51.5 metres high, the trunk alone more than 17 metres. The trunk girth is nearly 14 metres. But with this Tane Mahuta is not the biggest kauri of the area: The trunk of Te Mahuta Ngahere, some kilometres further south, has a diameter of five metres, which means, a girth of more than 15 metres.
The age is hard to say. Some sources estimate it at 1200 years, others - as is noted on the sign near the tree - speak of probably 2000 years.
As the feeding roots of the kauri are very shallow and delicate you walk on boardwalks for their protection, and you should not climb over the banister in front of Tane Mahuta for cuddling the tree for demonstrating how large it is. Too much trampling on the roots could kill the giants of the forest.
Not only this huge kauri is wonderful. On the second photo of this tip you can see which lush rainforest the Waipoua Forest is. A lot of other NZ trees and ferns, as well as exotic dracena and palm trees grow there and give it a touch of special magic.
Take the theft warnings at the carparks seriously. SH12 leads through no-man's-land, there is nearly no traffic, and the thinly populated areas at the northern and southern end of the forest are very poor, with a high rate of unemployment. So some guys have a lot of time to drive along the road and target tourist cars, if they can see attractive items left in them from the outside.
Directions: On SH12 between Dargaville and Omapere. If travelling north, it is sign-posted to the left side of the road.
Tane Mahuta is believed to be the lifegiver - all living creatures are his children.
This is the largest living Kauri tree in New Zealand and is estimated to be around 2000 years old.
Sitting infront of this massive tree was a little strange. Knowing that this tree has been around for 2000 years and will probably be around long after i have past on.
Address: Waipoua Forest, Hokianga Harbour, Northland
Directions: Off State Highway 12, signs are posted along the way and carparking is available.
As you head north from Dargaville you will drive through this magnificent Kauri Forest full of Ferns, rare New Zealand flora and fauna, colossal Kauri Trees, nocturnal kiwi [don't expect to spot one!], all set amongst beautiful rainforest.
As you enter the park, take the turn to the Forest Lookout which was once a fire lookout and offers a spectacular view of the area.
There are many stops to be made, and you really should stop and have a look. We were amazed at how big these trees were!
Te Matua Ngahere the 'Father of the Forest', is only a 10minute walk to witness a Tree that has a trunk over five metres in diameter, believed to be the widest girth of any kauri tree in New Zealand. Close by are the Four Sisters, a collection of four tall trees in close proximity. Also near Te Matua Ngahere is the Phantom Tree, believed to be the second largest in the forest.
Further up the road is Tane Mahuta, "Lord of the Forest", the largest kauri tree in New Zealand. It stands close to the road and is estimated to be 1,200 years old. At 52 metres it is much higher than Te Matua Ngahere - but doesn’t have the same impressive bulk - although its cubic volume is said to be even greater.
A fully grown kauri can reach 60 metres and have a trunk five metres or more in diameter. They are slow growing and some kauris are 2,000 years old.
This area is beautiful, the walks are easy, so do go and have a look!
Address: St Hwy 12, Forest is sign posted
Tane Mahuta is viewed by some Maori as an incarnation of a god. The tree is a Kauri and is over 2000 years old. Sitting in its presence is kind of awe inspiring. It's incredible to look at something that old and still alive. Some locals told us it has had a lot of work done on it to conserve it.
Tane Mahuta is in the Waipoua Forest on the west coast of Northland. If you have time (we didn't), go for a walk through the forest. It is NZ's largest remaining Kauri forest (they're our most spectacular trees for size) and forests like this used to cover huge tracts of the upper North Island.
Address: Close to State Highway 12.
Directions: There is a carpark on State Highway 12 and a couple of signs to warn you that Tane Mahuta is just around the corner. It's a five minute walk from the carpark.
The most famous Kauri Forest in New Zealand and the home of the big fella 'Tane Mahuta' (Lord of the Forest) stands at 51 m high, with a girth of over 13m and
is believed to be around 1200 years old.
Kauri (Agathis australis) is one of the world's largest trees. Native to Northern New Zealand, it produces an excellent quality of timber and also gum that can be used by industry.
The Kauri logging period of Northland started in the 1860s and reached it's zenith at the turn of the last century. The demand for building timber increased with the level of immigration and the gum trade was encouraged by a rise in prices from 1865.
The Kauri trade was instrumental in the development of Auckland but more so for the upper Northern provinces. Gum stores, sawmills, and logging ports became centres of settlement
Address: Waipoua Forest
Directions: Situated between Aranga and Waimamaku, on State highway 12. There are a number of walking and tramping tracks, including wheel-chair access to Tane Mahuta - Lord of the Forest: