This morning we left Ahipara and headed south and east to cross Hokianga Harbour on the ferry at Rawere. At Omapere we drove up to the lookout at the harbor entrance.
We hiked up to the point where there used to be a signal station. Apparently this harbor is very tricky to enter due to a sandbar outside the entrance. Nowadays it may not get any boats with enough draft to matter. Anyway, it is a pretty big harbor, with lots of fingers going this way and that, and there seems to be a lot of water coming out through a narrow entrance, and the currents look pretty tricky, too. It was a nice short hike, just our speed.
Next we drove down to Waipoua Forest, and saw some really big kauri trees. Tane Mahuta is near the highway, and is the largest living kauri in NZ. Kauri not only have straight trunks, they don’t taper much, and they seem to drop their lower branches as they grow, so on a big one, there may not be any branches for the first 50 feet or so. They also seem to support a lot of other plant life. I think the sign said Tane Mahuta has about 70 species of plant life on it—ferns, epiphytes, you name it. Tane Mahuta doesn’t seem to have many other kauri trees nearby, at least not big ones. Interesting to compare living Kauri with the fallen and buried ones we saw at Gumdiggers Park.
We also took a short walk to see the “Four Sisters.” These are 4 trees joined at the base—apparently they just grew close together, and as they got bigger, their trunks merged at the bottom. They are not quite as big as Tane Mahuta, but they do have other large kauri in the area. This was also the first place where there were facilities to clean your shoes before and after walking the trail. Many places have talked about cleaning your shoes and boots, and not transporting dirt and microbes from one area to another, but this is the first place that actually had brushes and a sanitizing spray for your footwear.
We were going to go to the Waipoua Forest visitor centre, but it was closed when we got there, so we went on down to Trounson Park just south of there. This is a small campground, and the powered sites for campervans are sort of a gravel parking lot, with the bigger campers having to take 2-3 spaces.
There is a bush walk which we plan to take in the am. We didn’t get here in time to do it before dark. There may be kiwis out there, but we don’t think we could spot them with the lights we have and the eyes we have.