“Wonderful stay among the misty rain droplets which became so warm and pleasant simply due to your warm hospitality at the gate of the kauri paradise”
Patrick Blanc | Botanist – Paris

Waipoua Forest

Home for thousands of years to the oldest and largest known kauri trees in the world

An absolute MUST SEE for any visitor to Northland is TANE MAHUTA and the other ancient and mighty kauri trees of the Wai-poua (Maori for water & old) Forest

It is almost unbelievable that these kauri trees have lived for so long, the following examples may help you to put their age into perspective:

  • The Four Sisters date back to the English realm of Henry VIII
  • Tane Mahuta was growing almost at the birth of Jesus Christ
  • Te Matua Ngahere was growing when men lived in caves – the time of bronze age man

Hard to comprehend ?  Well they say seeing is believing and that’s what a visit to the Waipoua Forest will do for you !

Tane Mahuta – “Lord of the Forest” and spiritual “God of the Forest” is estimated to be approximately 2000 years old and is the tallest known kauri tree in the world.

This tree stands over 4 metres in diameter and has a girth of 13.77 metres, a trunk height of 17.69 metres, a total heigh of 51.5 metres with an estimated volume of 244.5 cubic metres.

Te Matua Ngahere
“Father of the Forest” estimated to be approximately 2500 to 3000 years old he is the oldest and widest known kauri tree in the world. This tree is over 5 metres in diameter and has a girth greater than Tane Mahuta (16.4 metres) but the trunk is much shorter at only 10.2 metres giving a total height of 29.9 metres and an estimated volume of 208 cubic metres.

These two ancient trees are located approximately 25 minutes drive from Waipoua Lodge.  Tane Mahuta is only a 5 minute walk from the road and Te Matua Ngahere is a truly magical and enjoyable 40 minute round trip walk into the heart of the forest.

In addition to the two great trees, a walk in the Waipoua Forest will also provide visitors the chance to see The Four Sisters and the Yakas.

The Four Sisters – normally kauri fight for sole survival but this stand of four separate trees are believed to come from four seeds from the same tree and have co-existed for about 500 years. These trees have evenly spaced, slender trunks and the branches at the top reach outwards and not in. The Sisters are located on a short path just off the main path to Te Matua Ngahere.

The Yakas – Turning off the main track early on,  is another path which takes visitors to see The Yakas - the seventh largest kauri tree.  With a girth of 12.29 metres, a trunk height of 12.04 metres and a total height of 43.9 metres it has an estimated volume of 134.2 cubic metres.  The tree was named after Nicholas Yakas, a gum digger who had discovered the tree on one of his outings, but decided to keep it quiet.  Finally in 1966 when asked if he knew of any large kauri as yet unknown to the public, he let his secret be known !

Cathedral Grove also located on the track to The Yakas. True to its name, this is a truly breathtakingly, serene and beautiful place where visitors find themselves surrounded by stands of kauri trees with absolute peace except for the sound of bird song.

The Destruction of the Kauri Forests

Maori used large trees to carve out their wakas or war canoes which could hold in excess of 100 warriors.  The trunk of mature trees rise straight and true with very little taper to the upper relatively small canopy and can be more than 18 metres to the first branchces.  European settlers also found that mature trees contained a large volume of timber.  They soon realised the importance of the giant kauri as a resource for building and spars for their ships, the latter due to the fact that the young branches fell with the knot attached. They also discovered that the tree produced a valuable gum resin, which was exported and used for high grade varnishes and linolium. The harvest began and when it was over, the kauri forests and the land were decimated.  In the 1800s, kauri timber and gum built Auckland, Whangarei and was also exported to be used to rebuild San Francisco after the earthquake. Stripped land was seeded and turned into farmland and soon agriculture overtook the kauri as New Zealand’s main export.

William Roy McGregor (1894-1977) professor of Zoology from Auckland University in 1952 successfully campaigned to end logging of the Waipoua Forest and created the Waipoua Forest Sanctuary.  McGregor described the Waipoua Forest as “a gem with many facets”, and called it “a slice of old New Zealand, untamed in its pristine glory”.
Waipoua Forest Trust - Today the Waipoua Forest Trust plays a key role in the preservation and restoration of the Waipoua Forest. Having been granted $1.4m Millenium Funding in 2000, the trust was able to purchase land and plant kauri which are now strong kauri rickers able to be adopted by visitors wishing to support the trust and leave a legacy to the future. Please  let us know if you would like to adopt a tree.