Day 55: Tane Mahuta, Lord of the Forest

We decided to make a road trip this weekend and head up to Cape Reinga, the Northern-most tip of New Zealand — it’s about a six hour drive from Auckland so I hadn’t made it up that far before. I’ll post more about the cape in a few days but we opted to take a longer route and go up Highway 12 and do some exploring.

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Highway 12 takes you through the Waipoua Forest – an amazing majestic forest with huge kauri trees, rimu and northern rata. Just a few months before I moved to NZ, I drove through the Redwood National Forest in California. The redwoods are humongous, tall, towering trees that are large enough to drive a car through in some instances. Kauri trees are second only to the redwood in diameter and they have less mass but Kauri are thick, with big thick branches and a presence about them that is simply awe-inspiring.

DSC07286The largest of the remaining kauri trees is Tane Mahuta, Lord of the Forest. According to Maori legend, Tane is the son of Ranganui (the sky father) and Papatuanuku (the earth mother). Tane “tore his parents apart, breaking their primal embrace, to bring light, space and air and allowing life to flourish.” Tane Mahuta is thought to be roughly 2,000 years old and he measures about 55 feet at the trunk.

What I appreciate most about him though is the respect and admiration he is given by the people of New Zealand, especially those who have a Maori heritage — he has a deep and meaningful connection with them and when you meet him for the first time, you will see why.

If you decide to pay him a visit, stay on the trail – there is a big issue with disease that is further spread by people walking on the roots of the kauri. There is an excellent trail from the road to Tane Mahuta — you’ll see signs for Tane Mahuta just a few kilometers before leaving the forest if you’re heading North on highway 12. The trail is really a wooden boardwalk that will even accommodate wheelchairs.


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