Waipoua Kauri Forest

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Yakas

On the eastern shore of the north peninsula are the world’s largest Kauri trees. These are, by volume, the largest trees in New Zealand, and they are amazing to behold. Driving down the freeway, a small dirt parking lot and a picnic area appear. To one side is a shoe-cleaning station and the entrance to four fantastic walking trails. There are three distinct trails, between fifteen and forty minutes long. One trail holds two named sites, so four sites total.

The draw of this forest is, of course, the huge trees. New Zealand Parks services have kindly labelled them for you, starting with the seventh largest Kauri known, Yakas. Named after a gumdigger who grew intimately familiar with the forest, and helped to find the largest trees, Yakas is about twelve meters of trunk and another thirty meters of canopy. All told he’s about as tall as a 14 story building, and just under a car-length across.

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Te Matua – Father of the Forest

The second largest Kauri, Te Matua is my favorite, wearing an unbelievable crown of tree-sized branches. He’s not as tall as Yakas, but is wider by an extra meter – a huge distance when dealing with diameter. Two thirds of this tree’s height are in the branches – twenty meters worth of tree-trunk style canopy.

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Tāne Mahuta – Lord of the Forest

The last of the big ones, and the most popular tree in the park. The Lord of the Forest is about as wide as Yakas, but stands an impressive 51 meters tall, about 17 stories. There are two viewing platforms for this tree, one further back than the next, so you can get a really good sense of just how large he is. When you head back to the parking lot, climb the little picnic hill and turn around – Tāne Mahuta will be rising out of the forest canopy, taking up a breathtaking volume in the sky.

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