Footprints Waipoua – A Spiritual Encounter With the Giants of an Ancient Forest

Oma H. Barnett

About three and a half hours drive from Auckland or about one hour drive from Bay of Islands you can reach Opononi in Hokianga of North Island. There awaits the Footprint Waipoua, a not to be missed attraction in Hokianga, New Zealand. Take pleasure in this once in a lifetime jungle tour where you will be guided to the heart of New Zealand’s King of all forests, the Waipoua Forest.

Opononi is home to one of the ancient Kauri forests of New Zealand known as Waipoua Forest. Kauri forests are considered quite special, as their trees are one of the biggest trees in the world enjoying longest longevity. Kauri trees are evergreen trees hailing since the Jurassic period. They were already thriving since the dinosaur era, more than 145 million years ago. In contrast New Zealand’s Kauri dates back to 20 million years.

Kauri trees grow to amazing heights and are usually up to 40 metres tall. These larger than life trees have considerable trunks where some have their girths measure over five metres. And occasionally their diameters can reach up to a staggering seven metres or even more. Kauri trees also have a one of a kind conical shape. Their boughs branch off at the top of the tree like palm trees. With such dimensions and contours, the vibe you feel when you step into a forest of Kauri is truly magical and surreal.

The early settlers of Waipoua Forest were the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, who knew the forest like the back of their palms. In 1950s this forest was claimed as a forest sanctuary and is preserved to date. Waipoua Forest also houses a considerable populace of North Island brown Kiwis, the native flightless birds who are classified as endangered. Apart from the giant Kauri trees there is an interesting array of fauna inhabiting this forest.

Your guide will be an experienced Maori who will narrate exciting tales and legends of their sacred Waipoua Forest, one after another during the tour. The exciting jungle adventure then turns into a spiritual encounter when you are surrounded by the giants of the forest. You can also meet the evergreen celebrities such as Te Matua Ngahere, Tane Mahuta and the Four Sisters.

Te Matua Ngahere in Maori language means ‘Father of the Forest’. Its trunk measures over 16 metres in girth and towers over 29 metres. Next to this giant sits even a greater giant called Tane Mahuta or ‘Lord of the Forest’ as coined by the Maori. This soaring tree has a girth of more than 13 metres while its stunning height reaches over 51 metres. The Four Sisters are also famous for their extraordinary setting. These four trees have grown side by side and hence appear like siblings of this Kauri family.

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