Kauri trees are one of New Zealand’s mightiest natives, which grow to over 50 metres tall, with trunks up to 16 meters circumference and live for thousands of years. But recently New Zealand has been battling a devastating disease which may see the end of the Kauri trees.
Kauri forests once covered 1.2 million ha from the Far North of Northland to Te Kauri, near Kawhia and were very common before people started arriving around 1,000 years ago. One of New Zealand’s oldest and tallest Kauri’s trees is Tane Mahuta, which means Lord of the Forest and is found in the Waipoua Forest in Northland. As its name suggests, it’s the Lord of the Forest as it’s estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old. It towers 51.2m above the ground and it takes 16 people to link arms to fit around its trunk!
More recently there’s been a disease that’s spreading to Kauri trees and is having a devastating effect on New Zealand’s Kauri forests. Not only are these forests rare now, this disease is making them nearly extinct. This disease is called Kauri dieback and is a fungus-type of disease with no known cure.
One of the solutions to reduce Kauri dieback is to close all walking paths through the forest. This has occurred to many well-known hiking trails around the North Island and is very unfortunate, you may have even seen some of these signs already. The closure of paths is held for extreme locations of Kauri dieback and sometimes the trails will be closed for a short period of time while all measures are put in place to reduce the spread of the disease.
Another way the disease is reduced is at the entrance and exits of these trails through the native bush there are cleaning stations, where you must clean your boots and equipment with the provided solution and scrubbing brushes. If you see one of these stations, it’s compulsory to stop and use it, as they’re there to protect our Kauri forests from extinction.
The last way Kauri dieback is reduced, but still allowing visitors to experience the ancient natives, is by boardwalks being placed throughout the forest. These boardwalks allow visitors to walk through the forest without stepping foot on the soil or near the roots of the kauri trees.
If you’d like to visit these Kauri forests you can check them out at these locations, but remember to clean your boots no matter what!