Monday, 7 September 2015

Wiapoua Kauri Forest

I enjoyed seeing the big Kauri tree so much yesterday that I changed my plans for today. Instead of heading south of Auckland, I went west, to the Waipoua Kauri forest.

First I drove across to the west coast.  As I drove along, I saw a sign outside a shop: LENS PIES (in block caps like that).  I spent a few moments wondering what sort of pies these might be; surely not made of lenses?  Then, I got it. Len’s Pies.  Anti greengrocer’s apostrophe problem.

I stopped at The Landing Cafe and i-SITE information centre, Opononi, for tree-oriented information and a coffee.

I was told that Ara Te Uru cape was also worth a visit, so I stopped off there first.

Google Earth view of Arai Te Uru cape.  Car park in bottom right corner.
The signs claimed a 5 minute walk to the view point.  I was there over half an hour, walking, standing, photographing, looking.
Arai Te Uru : looking north east along the river
Arai Te Uru : looking west to the Tasman Sea
Then off south to the trees.  First stop, Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest, the largest Kauri still standing.  It is just a short walk into the forest from the car park.

Still impossible to get a sense of scale.  Tane Mahuta’s trunk’s girth is 45.2 feet, so the diameter is over 14 feet – nearly three times that of yesterday’s huge tree!
Then off another kilometer down the road to the next batch.

The path into the forest.  Not exactly wilderness, but there were no other people around, which made it wonderfully atmospheric.
First was a short tramp to The Four Sisters, a glade with four enormous Kauris growing close together in a clump,

A confusion of trunks.  The Four Sisters, plus some smaller siblings.
The Four Sisters
I stood alone with these mighty trees for a long time.  There was silence: no other people, no chatter, no footsteps.  Just the fractal drip drippity drip of past rainwater, the occasional chirping of a bird, and the distant susuruss of the wind.  The sunlight came and went, dappling the bark.  It was utterly peaceful and serene.

Eventually I moved off, a further 15 minute stroll deeper into the forest to Te Matura Ngahere, Father of the Forest, the second largest Kauri tree (by volume).

deeper in the forest the gravel path is replaced with boardwalk
The boardwalk had the occasional railing.  This wasn’t to protect walkers from the sometimes precipitous drop to the forest floor, but to protect a large Kauri next to the walk.  I learned to look for these, and to stop and stare at the trees so protected.  They were each magnificent.

another magnificent Kauri
And beautiful bark – some mossy, some patterned, some almost plain.

Then, a bend in  the boardwalk, and suddenly, about 100 yards ahead in a clearing was the big tree.

Whoever designed the walk had an eye for the dramatic
It is absolutely massive!  Although smaller (by volume) than Tane Mahuta, it has a trunk diameter of 17 feet, and it felt much bigger to me.

Like all the Kauris, the trunk goes straight up for ever before branching out into a whole separate independent world
I stood and stared.  And stared.

One the way back I barely glanced at any more trees.  This was partly due to the rain, which started in earnest as I headed back, but mainly due to the fact that all the trees along my route, Four Sisters included, now looked like mere saplings.

After that, I drove down through the forest (a stunningly beautiful drive), then to Dargaville, and dinner.

From Piahai to Dargaville, via Arai Te Uru cape and Wiapoua Kauri Forest, ~170km

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