New Zealand walking in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park features kauri trees fortunately on many occasions. Interestingly the type kauri forest is established with the presence of just one of its specie.
The tree's impressive attributes were once reason to build up a timber milling industry in West Auckland. Trading the kauri wood internationally returned a major boost in regional economic development.
Belonging to the ancient conifer family of Araucariacea the tree is remarkable in size, age, and the way this specie discloses competition.
Slow growing, withstanding poorly drained and acidic clay soils, as well as weather exposed localities they are even less demanding than other conifers. The nutritional condition of surrounding soil is intensified with their presence. Their leaves are kept for up to 15 years which increases the woody content in decomposing material around the tree above average through bark flakes and gum. The result is that only very few plants are able to grow around these trees in this nitrogen poor, acidic soil.
A number of these impressive trees are standing in West Auckland. On the map excerpt to the right New Zealand walking in the Waitakere Ranges shows some of the easier accessible ones along Scenic Drive.
View Kauri Trees Easy Accessible in a larger map
One of the tallest one standing is "Tane Mahuta" – Lord of the Forest with 51.2 metres hight. The oldest one standing with and age estimated over 2,000 years and a stem diameter from 5,22 metre is called Matua Ngahere – Father of the Forest. Both are found in the Waipoua Forest, on State Highway 12 about 65 km north from Dargaville.
Pre-organized multi day Northland travel packages visit the Bay of Islands and the Waipoua forest. Independent bus traveller might want to have more influence on where and when to go on a New Zealand walking tour and choose the 'Intercity Coachlines' to see these ancient giants.
Accountable for massive timber logging after 1830 were European settlers who created an overseas trade market for this exceptional straight and durable wood that reduced the original kauri forest to an estimated 4% in less than 100 years logging activity.
Apart from that, a widely spread profession in Northland was 'gum digger'. Large amount of gum streamed out of wounds initiated by scratches to the thin bark and broken branches. Its value for varnish made it a sought after export ware for Europe and America. Reason enough for Maoris and Europeans to flood felled fields to recover the buried gum of centuries.
Some contemporary artists like Lilach Paul use this rare material for their unique carvings, traditional and modern. New Zealand wood carvers use for their workrecycled kauri wood or retrieved fallen kauri trees that were conceled in swamps for decades.
Encountered flora on a bush walk....