The forests of Waipoua are the garden of Tane Mahuta. Waipoua, and the adjoining forests of Mataraua and Waima, make up the largest remaining tract of native forest in Northland. Most of Northland’s ancient forest cover has been lost to saw and fire, plundered for the precious timber of the kauri tree or cleared for farmland. However the forests are now under the protection of the Department of Conservation.
The drive on SH12 winds through magnificent stands of tall kauri, rimu and northern rata, and offers extensive views in a few places.
Good walking tracks give easy access to the most spectacular attractions of the forest: the giant trees Tane Mahuta, Te Matua Ngahere and Yakas. A few tramping tracks and routes are also available for those who wish to venture deeper into the forest, especially in the high plateau and ranges.
Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest)
is New Zealand’s largest known living kauri tree. It is thought this tree was discovered and identified in the 1920’s when contracted surveyors surveyed the present road State Highway 12 through the forest. In 1928 Nicholas Yakas and other Bushmen, which were building the road, also identified the big tree Tane Mahuta.
According to Maori mythology Tane is the son of Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother. Tane was the child that tore his parent’s parental embrace and once done set about clothing his mother in the forest we have here today. All living creatures of the forest are regarded as Tane’s children.
Trunk Girth 13.77 m
Trunk Height 17.68 m
Total Height 51.2 m
Trunk Volume 244.5 m3
Tane Mahuta Track
This short track leads you under cooling shade of the forest canopy to the majestic Tane Mahuta. Not far into your leisurely amble, a sweeping corner of the track suddenly brings you face to face with the ‘Lord of the Forest’. When you catch your first breath-taking view of this magnificent tree, you feel compelled to pause for a while. You can almost feel Tane Mahuta’s strength and ancient presence, and its overwhelming size makes visitors look like dwarfs.
There is a wooden fence and a seat to view the tree. To get a closer look at Tane Mahuta, you can move further along the track to a platform ramp, which then leads to the viewing platform. There is an interpretation sign located to the left of the platform giving information and the status of the tree. A ramp leads off the viewing platform and the track continues back to the highway. After a short walk, you reach the track intersection where a direction marker post takes you back out to the car park.
Source: Department of Conservation