Where to See Kauri in Northland
New Zealand is famous for its wealth of lush native forest which covers about 26% of New Zealand. However, some of the most mesmerising forests can be found in the Northland region of the North Island thanks to its remaining stands of kauri. Kauri are New Zealand’s largest and oldest trees, where some trees are even believed to have been saplings during the bronze age, some 3,000 years ago! While kauri are a breathtaking sight to see themselves, the diverse and wild vegetation around the kauri is another thing to be awed by. With all that in mind, if you want to see these tremendous living entities, visit the kauri forests in Northland listed below.
1. Waipoua Forest
Let’s start with some of the biggest and oldest kauri in the whole of New Zealand! Tāne Mahuta (The Lord of the Forest) and Ta Matua Ngahere (The Father of the Forest) are the two largest kauri in New Zealand. There are walks leading to each of these forest giants, taking only 5 to 20 minutes to complete one way.
Location: The Waipoua Forest and its walks are accessed off State Highway 12 just south of the Hokianga Harbour on the Kauri Coast. Cultural guided tours with Footprints Waipoua are available with transport to the forest.
2. Trounson Kauri Park
Further down the Kauri Coast lies another spectacular kauri forest waiting to be discovered. The Trounson Kauri Park has a 40-minute loop walk taking in sights of towering kauri trees and much more. The forest is also home to North Island brown kiwi population which are heard at night when camping in the Trounson Kauri Park campground. Go on the loop walk at night and you will also see glowworms! For more places to see glowworms, check out the 10 Best Places to See the Famous Glowworms in New Zealand.
Location: Trounson Park Road off State Highway 12 between the Waipoua Forest and Dargaville.
3. Puketi Forest and Omahuta Forest
Delve into the 6,070 ha (15,000 acres) of the Puketi and Omahuta Forest in the heart of the Bay of Islands. You can choose between short walks, hikes and campsites in these forests, a popular walk being the 10-minute Manginangina Loop Walk. The forests are rich in ecological diversity and dense in vegetation that will make you feel like you have stepped into the dinosaur era.
Location: Pungaere Road just off State Highway 10, about 600 m (0.3 mi) north of Waipapa.
4. Tane Moana Walkway
See the largest kauri on the east coast of New Zealand, Tane Moana. This giant tree can be found along the Te Moana Walkway on the Tutukaka Coast. The complete walk is 2 hours one-way or 4 hours return, taking you to Tane Moana which measures 11 m (36 ft) in circumference.
Location: End of Clements Road just outside of Matapouri, Tutukaka Coast.
5. AH Reed Kauri Park
Just a walk or quick drive from the city centre of Whangarei, the AH Reed Kauri Park holds 500-year-old kauri trees. Take the treetop Canopy Loop walk for a different perspective of these forest giants. Find out how you can link this walk with others in Whangarei in our 20 Best Walks in Whangarei & Whangarei Heads.
Location: Whareora Road, Tikipunga, Whangarei.
6. Pakotai Track
Location: Murray Road; 1.7 km (1 mi) down Murray Road when coming from Kaikohe, 4.5 km (2.8 mi) down Murray Road when coming from Dargaville.
7. Opua Kauri Walk
For those exploring the Bay of Islands, a pleasant stroll through kauri forest can be found between Paihia and Kawakawa. The Opua Kauri Walk is a 30-minute return walk partly over boardwalk through a classic example of kauri forest. Kauri here range from 25 to around 400 years old! The Oromahoe Traverse links the Opua Kauri Walk to Paihia, taking a further two hours.
Location: Oromahoe Road, Opua.
8. Buried Kauri Forest
Kauri can not only be found growing on the ground but also under the ground. Just north of Kaitaia is a buried kauri forest that was buried over thousands of years. The kauri found here are 40,000-150,000 years old. See them for yourself at Gumdiggers Park and learn about how people used to dig for kauri gum from these buried forests more than 100 years ago.
Location: Heath Road, Awanui, approximately 8.4 km (5 mi) north of Kaitai via State Highway 1.
9. The Kauri Museum
Ok, so this isn’t exactly a kauri forest, but if you are interested in the kauri logging and gumdigging history that shaped almost the entire Northland region, then don’t miss the Kauri Museum. This museum is huge (just like a kauri) so don’t underestimate the number of things to see here between the static displays, gum collections and “Forest Walkway”.
Location: 5 Church Road, Matakohe, approximately 45 km (28 mi) south of Dargaville via State Highway 12.
10. Kauri Galleries
Again, not a kauri forest but locals in the area have turned what timber remains into impressive and valuable works of art and furniture. Especially in Dargaville, there are plenty of places to see local kauri art. A must is The Woodturner’s Kauri Gallery & Working Studio and Tika Pono Toi Gallery & Studio to see art carved out of kauri wood and meet the artists who have sculpted these marvellous creations. Further north, Nelson’s Kaihu Kauri Gallery adds to the flavour with kauri carvings, pottery, glass-blowing, greenstone, handmade soaps and all sorts of locally-made gifts. Finally, just north of Kaitaia, Kā Uri is a popular pitstop with kauri and Maori crafting exhibitions and homeware and artwork for sale.
Location: The Woodturner’s Kauri Gallery – 71 River Road, Dargaville. Tika Pono Toi Gallery & Studio – 3 Poto Street, Dargaville. Nelson’s Kaihu Kauri Gallery – 2888 State Highway 12, RD 9, Kaihu. Kā Uri – 8.4 km (5 mi) north of Kaitai on State Highway 1.
[CLOSED] Herekino Forest
[Update: Herekino Forest walking trails are closed to prevent the spread of kauri dieback.]
This forest close to Kaitaia is scattered with kauri stands making for some amazing bushwalks. The forest can be accessed on walks from either Kaitaia or Ahipara, the most popular walk being the Kaitaia Walkway. The first part of the Kaitaia Walkway is a 20-minute return walk to a kauri grove, which is the easiest option. There’s the slightly more demanding 15-minute return track option taking you to a lookout. Alternatively, there is the 1h30min return tramping route taking you high onto a saddle for more amazing views as you hike across Diggers Valley.
Location: 3km (2 miles) south of Kaitaia. Start the hike from the car park at the end of Larmer Road.
More About Northland Forests
Still don’t get what all the fuss is about? Check out Why is New Zealand so Fascinated with Kauri? Otherwise, check out more of our insightful articles:
- 10 Ways to Protect New Zealand’s Forests
- 10 Best Kauri Forests in New Zealand
- The Top 50 North Island Walks
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in 101 Things to Do in New Zealand: The Ultimate List.