Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Around the World: Kauri Trees

December 20, 1991

This morning included plans to head to Tikipunga to see Whangarei Falls and find kauri trees that the hostel keeper told us about last night, but a malfunctioning alarm clock meant missing the bus. Steve, another hostel mate from England, had hired a car and offered to bring Gail and I along. The falls were gorgeous. A narrow stream of water tumbling over a high cliff into a river winding through the lush valley below.

Whangarei Falls
Photo by Simon Fearby

Steve drove us to the area where the kauri trees are supposed to be. We were told that kauri trees can grow to over 200 feet tall.  The really impressive ones are at least 600 years old, while some are rumoured to have survived "since the time of Christ". We walked through one park and after walking in a complete circle, we saw nothing but your garden variety tree. On the way, we stopped to ask a few locals for directions, but when we got to where they had sent us, we still couldn't find these legendary trees. Finally, we came upon an elderly lady watering what looked like cabbage sized bushes near the road. Steve stopped the car and inquired where we could find the kauri trees.

"Oh, I'm watering one right now," she replied.

Steve explained that we were looking for the really big ones and the lady pointed us in the right direction. "I haven't been there since last year. I don't know how many there would be now."

How quickly do these things grow!?!!

Te Matua Ngahere "Father of the Forest"
3,000 years old and 5m in diameter.

We finally found them and are they ever impressive. The bark looks like clay and the sap is used for glue and as a varnish for violins.

Leaving Whangarei for Pahia in the Bay of Islands. Not far from my seat is a fellow having a slurred disagreement with his reflection. I suppose this is what happens after consuming the wine on sale from LiquorLand.

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"We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way."
~Gloria Gaither