Big trees and big seas  

We are back in the Northland once again looking out the window of a comfortable Dept of Conservation (DOC) Hut, as the rain sweeps in over the kauri forests at Waipoua. It has rained almost every day since we completed the Tongariro Great Walk, but, with several walks under our belt, it is much less frustrating than earlier in our trip.

Somehow, stormy weather seems to suit this part of New Zealand and there has been enough time between the series of fronts moving through to do a few short walks.


DOC hut at Waipoua

Waipoua Stream

In the kauri forest

Big Trees

The kauri forests once dominated much of the northland, but their beautiful timber, valuable gum and the unfortunate propensity of young kauri to resemble pre-assembled ship's masts saw the destruction of much of these forests. Today, some superb remnant patches are protected for our enjoyment and Waipoua is one of the better ones, containing the two largest kauri in New Zealand.

We could not leave Waipoua without a walk through the forest of tall kauri, rimu, towai. kohekohe and other tree species, to pay our respects to Tane Mahuta "Lord of the Forest" and Te Matua Ngahere "The Father of the Forest".


Vertical view of a giant kauri

Tane Mahuta

Te Matua Ngahere

Some 2000 years ago, a kauri seed germinated in this soil. Today it has become Tane Mahuta, 51.5m high, 13.8m in diameter and 258 cubic m in volume. The clean lines of its massive trunk direct your gaze up into its broad crown, towering over the rest of the forest canopy and home to over 30 species of epiphyte, fern and moss.

There are a lot of taller kauri than Te Matua Ngahere, standing at just under 30 metres, but none with a bigger girth (16.7m), making it the second biggest kauri at 244 cubic m. It stands a kilometre or so away from Tane Mahuta , in a scattered grove of younger (i.e. only several hundred years old) kauri, the elegant lines of their trunks reaching up far above the tallest of the other tree species about them. These giant kauri are truly impressive trees.

Big Seas

The Kauri Coast is a wild and isolated part of New Zealand, and a chance for a short negative ion-charged walk along a wind-swept beach on a stormy day was irresistible. Aranga Beach, stretching southward into the salty haze from the mistcapped Maunganui Bluff provided that opportunity. It was good to feel the sand between our toes again, as the wind whipped the foam from the big seas along the beach ahead of us.

Looking north along Aranga Beach to Maunganui Bluff

We ambled past broad dunes, their fronts scoured by sand-devouring waves and around a wind-carved sandstone headland. With only a few Pacific gulls and pied stilts for companions, there was a great wave of nostalgia for our Great South Coast Walk of earlier this year. It was tempting to not turn back and walk on into the mist, but the approaching rain reminded us of reality and we headed back to our car and the warmth of our cabin in Waipoua.

sea vs sand

Lunch in the shelter of an inlet

The splendid isolation of a wind-swept beach

Hokianga Harbour, just north of Waipoua - no walks here, but the panorama of the harbour was so great I just had to include this photo