The Kauri is an unusual and very long lived tree, the larger ones can be 2000 years old. Kauri seedlings need plenty of light so they usually start life amid manuka scrub land in forest clearings formed by windfall or fire. Adolescent trees form a tapering trunk and narrow conical crown. The tall adolescent Kauri have narrow pole trunks, but as they mature the trunk thickens and the lower branches are all shed giving the very clean straight trunk of the adult tree which made their wood so desirable. The bark is shed in plate sized scales giving a distinctive appearance to the trunk and helps to shop epiphytes from establishing a hold. As they grow older the trunk progressively swells into a vast cylinder whilst the crown becomes thin. Despite the clean trunks the crowns are filled with other plants - one can find as many as 30 different species of epiphytes on a single large Kauri. The largest Kauri such as Tane Mahuta (the Father of Forest) and Te Matua Ngahere have girths of about 15 meters.
The other unusual feature of the Kauri is the gum they produce in large quantities. This was much sort after for high grade varnishes, linoleum and French polish and led to a big industry in gum digging for the old buried lumps of gum and later in bleeding the trees.
Northland - Waipoua Forest
Some of the largest remaining Kauri can be found in the Waipoua Forest area on the West side of Northland - North of Dargaville. The largest Kauri left such as Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere have girths of about 15 meters but some were much larger. We saw both of these which are both in the Waipoua Forest Park, Tane Mahuta (the God of the Forest) is so close to roads that it is a big tourist trap with many coaches stopping but even so it is a magnificent site which even the presence of large numbers of other people can not detract from. The next largest is nearby and involves a 15 minute walk so few people sadly make the trip, especially when the mist hangs low - they know not what they miss in not visiting Te Matua Ngahere (Father of the Forest).
Below are some examples of our Kauri Masterpieces: