Today another small driving tour. My goal is Waipoura forest, about 100 km west of where I am staying. The forest is the largest remaining native forest in the region and home to two of the largest living Kauri trees.
But first things first, there is a special public toilet in the town I am staying – yeah, a public toilet… Hundertwasser lived in this town and designed the toilets. (Link) There must be a lot of tourists visiting in high season, but this morning, I am alone – taking pictures of a toilet.
While driving I stop at different geocaches directly on the way. Some church caches that seems to be common all over the world. Unfortunately, the churches are not so nice (especially compared to Norway).
First small stop in Opononi, a small town at the coast to get some breakfast and some stamps for postcards. I haven’t seen very many nice towns here in New Zealand. Mos remind me of the US style towns with all the shops at the main street, which is a big parking lot. They definitely need some city planners.
Next stop a few kilometers outside the town at the Arai-Te-Uru recreation resort. The sign says “Scenic lookout” and that’s something I want to take a closer look at. Parking and following the signs and footpath I get to a place with a beautiful vie over the bay/coast. And combined with the beautiful weather you can just sit down and enjoy the view for a moment.
Walking back (someone forgot a geocache here) and taking the last part of the drive to Waipoua forest. Next stop is where a lot of cars already are parking – Tane Mahuta. A kauri tree.
To get into the forest, you have to brush and disinfect your shoes (both on the way in and out). TH’here i a disease that is affecting the kauri trees and they try to protect them. Just a few minutes into the forest, you get to a viewing platform with this giant kauri tree. It is called Tane Mahuta which means “Lord of the forest” and is the largest known kauri tree.
The staff at the tree says it is only a tiny/young one (at about 2000 years old). They can get much bigger. Unfortunately, the British thought it was a good idea to take down those trees for timber when they got to New Zealand in the early 1800s. Impressive tree and you only see a small part of it from where we are standing.
After some pictures (the “ranger” was a pro using panorama mode on mobile phones) I went bak to the care to drive a little bit further. Next stop is the Kauri walks. A parking lot where you can start 3 different tours inside the forest.
Again shoe cleaning and then I start to see the Four sisters, which should be a 20 minute walk. I didn’t see the sign, so I went for the other walk, which is an additional 20 minutes into the forest – to the second largest living kauri tree with the name “Te Matua Ngahere” (Father of the forest). A beautiful walk on a good path down to the tree. Impressive again. It is very silent in the forest. Just sitting down looking at this enormous tree.
A nice short hike back (and now I see the 4 Sisters which is a group of 4 smaller kauri trees) back to the car. I had to decide which way to drive, but the light showing me that the fuel level is getting low takes the decision from me. I head back to the next gas station.
I would like to try to the the Waitomo Glowworm Caves close to Kawakawa, but I am not sure if I will be there in time before they close. I drive back the same way I came. And of course it is only 10 minutes again for the caves, that is not worth the 15 NZ$ if you can’t even enter. But I tried.
On Tripadvisor I found this Indian Restaurant in the town center. It is said to be very good. A lot of people there, which always is a good sign. The “restaurant” is more than basic. I don’t know if I would have gone inside without the good reviews. But I order a nice dinner and the food is very good and very cheap. I don¨t even manage to finish it all.
Back to my apartment and packing for the tour down to Coronmandel tomorrow.