Heading south from the Hokianga Harbour area, you pass through farmland and arrive at Waimamaku, home to the daytime-only Morrell’s Café. The highway then twists and turns through nearly 20km of mature kauri in the WAIPOUA KAURI FOREST. Eight kilometres south of Waimamaku you reach a small car park, from where it’s a three-minute walk to New Zealand’s mightiest tree, the 2000-year-old Tane Mahuta, “God of the Forest”. A vast wall of bark 6m wide rises nearly 18m to the lowest branches, covered in epiphytes. A kilometre or so further south on SH12, a ten-minute track leads to a clearing where three paths split off to notable trees: the shortest (5min return) runs to the Four Sisters, relatively slender kauri all growing close together; a second path (30min return) winds among numerous big trees to Te Matua Ngahere, the “Father of the Forest”, the second-largest tree in New Zealand – shorter than Tane Mahuta but fatter and in some ways more impressive. The third path, the Yakas Track (3km return; 1hr), leads to Cathedral Grove, a dense conglomeration of trees, the largest being the Yakas Kauri, named after veteran bushman Nicholas Yakas.

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