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Waipoua Forest & Footprints Waipoua

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 Waipoua (Maori for water & old) Kauri 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 were around at the same time as Henry VIII and his six wives, Tane dates back to the Birth of Christ and Te Matua Ngahere was a small kauri ricker at the time of bronze age man!


If you find these ages hard to comprehend and seeing is believing, then that’s what a visit to the Waipoua Kauri Forest will do for you!


Tane Mahuta
“Lord of the Forest” and spiritual “God of the Forest” the tree 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 height of 51.5 metres with an estimated volume of 244.5 cubic metres.


Te Matua Ngahere
“Father of the Forest” estimated to be approximately 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.


The Four Sisters 
Normally kauri grow alone, 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 all reach outwards and not in.


The Yakas
The Yakas is 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


Cathedral Grove
Located on the track to The Yakas this breathtakingly, serene and beautiful place is a stand of kauri trees with absolute peace except for the sound of bird song.

Footprints Waipoua

Guided Tours from Waipoua Lodge

There are three types of guided tour which can be organised from Waipoua Lodge. If you would like us to arrange any tours for you, please contact us. 

Footprints Waipoua Twilight Tour

The spiritual environment of the Waipoua Forest provides a natural stage for an unforgettable Footprints Waipoua encounter with some of the largest remaining kauri trees in the world.  Stepping into our special world you will be walking under the same stars that guided our ancestor Kupe from legendary Hawaiiki to New Zealand. On the paths of the forest, we meet trees that were already giants before his arrival and that were standing before the birth of Christ.

You will experience the affinity that early Maori had with the forest and the deep spiritual respect they hold for the giants still growing there.  Learn of the rich birdlife and other fauna that inhabits the forest and witness the transitions of life and the day turning into the night. Your Maori guides will relate stories and legends of the forest, of its gods and other spiritual inhabitants. They will greet the giant trees with spine-tingling waiata (sacred chants). You will learn how Maori used plants for medicinal purposes.

As night falls, the shyest creatures of the forest awaken and begin to go about their work. You may encounter insects like weta, nocturnal birds, eels, freshwater lobsters, or the magnificent but slightly chilling giant carnivorous ‘kauri’ snail. Deep in the forest among the towering trees and surrounded by the sounds of the nocturnal creatures awakening, you will meet Te Matua Ngahere – The Father of the Forest. At approximately 3,000 years old he is the oldest known kauri tree in the world that has been living since the time of bronze age man! Your guide will greet this giant as an old friend.

The highlight of the tour will be your meeting with The Lord of the Forest – the giant and spiritual ‘God of the Forest’ Tane Mahuta thought to be approximately 2000 years old!

Your guide will formally greet the silent giant and then suddenly you stand dwarfed before his Lordship as the darkness closes in. His gnarled ancient limbs seem to grasp at the stars and the forest is silent but for the dim chatter of its night creatures.

Maori Private Guided Tours

Instead of taking the Footprints Waipoua Twilight Tour, these private tours offer an alternative day time Maori experience with guests being collected from the lodge after breakfast and returning around lunchtime.  The tour can be flexible but usually they encompass meeting the mighty kauri trees of the Waipoua Forest – Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere.

Trounson Kauri Park with Possible Kiwi Encounter

Trounson Kauri Park is home to approximately 200 North Island Brown Kiwi and this guided tour takes guests into the forest at night in the hopes of hearing and seeing the kiwi in its natural habitat, plus experiencing the magic of the other nightlife present in this unspoilt environment. Whilst sightings of kiwi cannot be guaranteed, simply being in the forest in the evening is a truly memorable experience.


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 branches.  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”.


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. 

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