Haere Mai | Welcome
Maunganui Bluff & Waipoua Forest
It is very difficult to find words to describe how you will feel when you stand in the presence of the “Lord of the Forest” – Tane Mahuta. The term dwarfed might come to mind, but the chances are it will be more like humbled, awe inspired, breathtaking, magical, or quite simply you could be lost for words
Without question, the absolute MUST DO of your Kauri Coast journey is to visit the ancient kauri trees of the Waipoua Forest. Unbelievably these trees date back 2-3,000 years to the birth of Christ and further back in time to bronze age man. Forget pilgrimages to Egypt and the pyramids – these iconic trees are not made of stone – they have been living and breathing for thousands of years.
Travelling north from Trounson Kauri Park (map A) on SH12 you will pass through some of the finest dairy pasture and on the left have many opportunities to glimpse the ocean and the Tasman Sea.
Maunganui Bluff to Waipoua Forest
Take the Maunganui Bluff road for 6 kms out to the coast (map B) – this is the top end of Ripiro Beach which started back down at Pouto Point. Wild, rugged and breathtaking, looking out to the horizon from this white sand beach you will see nothing for 2,000 kms and Australia!
Walk the beach or the clifftop path (approx 2.5 hours return) but be careful of the rogue waves which can come in without warning – stay on the dry sand and swimming is only safe on an incoming tide and calm day.
If you are lucky you may find a seal sleeping on the beach – don’t confuse it with a rock and definitely don’t try to say hello as they can be quite grumpy.
As you pass through Aranga look for the small village school on the right (map C) which has serviced the local rural community for generations.
Approximately 8 kms further up the road on the right you will find the Waipoua Lodge Cooking School (map D) where by prior arrangement you can learn fine dining skills, some great tricks of the trade and all with a magnificent forest backdrop.
Surrounding Waipoua Lodge you will find land owned by the Waipoua Forest Trust and the Millenium Forest which is a reforestation project that has already been planted with Manuka and under planted with young kauri rickers.
Just think in just a couple of hundred years all this land will be filled with magnificent kauri!
Just a kilometre further, you will be in the Waipoua Forest and your first stop should be to take a drive up Lookout Road to the Scenic Lookout (map E). Unfortunately this unsealed road is not recommended for campervans. From the scenic peak there is a tower which gives incredible views of the whole forest and for those inclined to a bit of singing the acoustics are spectacular! From the scenic Look Out there is a walking path down to the Waipoua Forest Visitors Centre , or alternatively you can continue along SH12 and take the Waipoua River Road (map F).
Waipoua Forest Visitors’ Centre
Te Roroa, the local Iwi (Maori tribe) will welcome you to the Waipoua Forest at their visitors centre (map E) where there is so much to do. You can stay here but you can also visit and enjoy their Café “Forrest”, leave a legacy to your future generations and plant a young kauri ricker or experience some true Maori culture and learn stories, a waiata (song), games, haka and flax weaving. Whatever you decide to do, you will certainly be made to feel very welcome.
Returning to the main highway you will cross a bridge over the Waipoua River and on the right you will find a carpark and the Ricker Walk (map F). This short walk will take you through beautiful stands of young kauri trees called ‘Rickers’ and lead to a lookout over the river.
Enter the Realm of Tane Mahuta
There are two places visitors to Waipoua Forest MUST STOP:
1. Kauri Walks
Located approximately 1 km before Tane Mahuta (map H) – less known and not publicised as much this truly has some hidden secrets: 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. Te Matua Ngahere is an easy and enjoyable 40 minute round trip walk into the heart of the forest. The Four Sisters Located on the path to Te Matua Ngahere this is definitely another Must See. Normally kauri fight for sole survival but this stand of four separate trees are believed to come from the same seed pot explosion 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. Just like siblings some are stronger than others due to their position in relation to wind, rain and soil nutrients.
If an additional hour is available at Kauri Walks ….
The Yakas – Turning off the main Kauri Walks 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.
2. Tane Mahuta
1 km north from Kauri Walks and just a 3 minute walk from the main highway (map i) “Lord of the Forest” and spiritual “God of the Forest” is estimated to be approximately 2000 years old, dates back to the birth of Christ and is the largest 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.
Artist Jane Crisp‘s stunning interpretation of Tane Mahuta separating his parents
Maori Legend | Tane Mahuta
In the beginning before the world was light, Rangi the sky-father and Papa the earth-mother, were bound together, their offspring trapped in the darkness between them. The sons became desperate for light and space, so agreed to separate from their parents. The strongest among them, Tane Mahuta, put his shoulder to Papa and thrust upwards with his powerful legs, disregarding the protests of a weeping Rangi and Papa, as they were wrenched away from each other’s embrace. Tane Mahuta pushed upwards with all his great strength, until Rangi was forced far away up into the sky, and Tane held him there, letting the light shine in.