Starting Point: Ahipara
Ending Point: Waipoua Forest on the Kauri Coast near Kaihu
Kilometers Traveled: 178
Today we headed further south, stopping off in Kataia at Pac n Save for a few more provisions and gas, then we headed down to KohuKohu to take the ferry across Hokianga Harbor. We missed the ferry by a few minutes and had an hour to kill so we went back to explore KohuKohu.
While looking for the oldest stone bridge in NZ (which we never found), we saw a sign for fresh veg, plants, and beetroot chutney. Being Ukrainian, I love anything with beets in it, so we stopped at this delightful little roadside honesty shop. Choose what you like and put the money in the box. As we were leaving, the owner came down from her house with some additional plants and we chatted with her for a bit. She said that 99.9% of people are honest and pay and that she loves running her little roadside shop.
Then it was on to the ferry and across the way to Rawene, then down the coast. We stopped off at the Arai te Uru Recreation Preserve for lunch and a bit of a hike. Then it was on to the Kauri Coast & the Waipoua Forest to see the great Kauri trees.
Kauri trees are some of the world’s mightiest and oldest. They can grow more than 50 meters in height, and live for more than 2,000 years. Kauri forests once covered over a million hectares of Northland, but they were heavily logged in the 1800s and today there are only around 7,500 hectares left. The Waipoua Forest contains many of the oldest surviving trees and we stopped off briefly to see a few of the oldest ones on the way to our campground.
Tane Mahuta is the largest and oldest Kauri tree in New Zealand. Tane Mahuta means Lord of the Forest and at 51.5 meters tall and 13.8 meters thick, he is majestic. They estimate that Tane Mahuta is between 2,000 and 2,500 years old. You can see Tane Mahuta in the far left middle photo and the top right photo in the collage today. In the photo at top right, Kathy is actually waving from the bottom.
After Tane Mahuta, we journeyed a bit further down the road and then hiked in to see the second largest Kauri tree, Te Matua Ngahere, which means Father of the Forest. He’s much shorter that ™, standing at a total height of 29.9 meters, but his trunk is 16.41 meters thick. It’s amazing to sit in the glade and look at this tree and ponder all it has borne witness to throughout it’s life. It has sat here in this forest, starting out no larger than a blade of grass, and, for millennia, it has grown. It has grown and survived and thrived while people lived out whole lifetimes, while eras came and went, while civilizations created themselves and then fell…this tree still stands. It also looks quite like an Ent.
From there we visited one more famous glade of Kauris. The Four Sisters are a group of 4 tall and slender Kauri trees that are growing side by side.
We’ll be spending more time in the Waipoua forest tomorrow, so we headed for our home for the next two nights, the Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park. We signed up for a night hike in the forest tonight, so this probably won’t be posted until tomorrow. We’re hoping to catch a glimpse of a Kiwi since they are nocturnal.
Postscript: The night walk was amazing! 2 hours in the forests of Trounson Park. We saw amazing Kauri trees in the darkness, glow worms, all matter of bugs and cool spiders, and nocturnal eels in the streams (who like colby cheese, believe it or not!)! No sign of the elusive Kiwi, although we did hear their calls. And Kat still wants to catch a glimpse of a green Kauri snail. We may take the hike again tonight!