Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
One of the most intense experiences I've had recently was visiting the giant kauri of the Waipoua Forest in New Zealand's Northland. Nothing prepares you for the shock when you first see Tane Mahuta (Father of the Forest), the largest remaining kauri. The photo below simply does not reflect the physical and spiritual impact of this enormous living thing. Fifty metres tall, thirteen metres in girth, more than five metres thick, it erupts from the earth like some ancient god.
The longer I spent in the tree's presence the sadder I became. This is by no means the largest kauri that has existed: estimates suggest it's only half the size of some of the giants ruthlessly harvested at the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s. And these remaining specimens are cooped up in a relatively small reserve, when once the whole top quarter of the North Island, north of the frost line, harboured these 2000 year old trees, and some even older.
And then I met Te Matua Ngahere, even broader than Tane Mahuta but not as tall. If Tane Mahuta is the father, this venerable tree must be the great-grandfather. I half-expected the old fellow to talk to me.
If you're ever in New Zealand, go see these trees.
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