Northland: East Coastal Hikes, West Kauri Trees

Words cannot convey the scale of a view that is so stunning it is felt.

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

East coast for peninsula beaches, coastal walks, and climbs. West for ancient GIANT trees. Words fail…the images remain.

2 spectacular tracks: Mahinepua Peninsula and St. Paul’s Rock

Mahinepua Peninsula – Coastal Spectacular

Forty minutes north of Kerikeri is the most beautiful NZ walking track. The track begins at a , a historic Māori defensive settlement, with 270 box steps, on the ridge track.

The reward!

St. Paul’s Rock at Whangaroa – Cool Climb!

North of Kerikeri about 30 minutes is a 600 meter climb above the town of Whangaroa (fahn-a-row-uh). The harbor is a jewel in the middle of multiple bays and beaches.


Mangonui Cable Bay “almost pink” sand

Mangonui Coopers Beach – golden sand, pohutukawa trees – 2.5 km stroll

Karikari Peninsula – white sandy beaches and bays. The name means “good natured, friendly and kind”.

Hokianga Harbor (Northland’s West Coast)

Signal Station Track and Waimamaku Coastal Tracks

A short walk from the carpark to the lookout at Signal Station. The Waimamaku Coastal Track branches off the Signal Station track and heads down the open coast with some climbs onto bluffs and small headlands. Lots of beaches and cliffs – with exceptional view of Hokianga Harbour and the Tasman Sea.

(my walk was rained out, but it is crazy beautiful)

Kauri Trees – Oldest, Massive and Disappearing

The Kauri forests, unique to Northland, were mostly destroyed for farmland. Today the occasional stands of trees left standing by the settlers (e.g. Waipoua and Pokita Kauri Forests) are under threat from Kauri Dieback Disease, a microscopic spore in the soil that infects the shallow roots, spread by a pinhead of soil. There is no cure, once infected there is no stopping the death of the tree. The only way to save kauri is to clean shoes and gear and stay off kauri roots. 

  • Largest known Kauri, Tane Mahuta – Lord of the Forest, age – 2000 years, Ht 169 ft; Girth 45 ft
  • Te Matua Ngahere – Father of the Forest, age, 1500 . Ht 98 ft; Girth 54 ft

Gum Diggers Park (Far Far North)

Not far from Cape Reinga are 2 ancient Kauri Forests buried by cataclysmic prehistoric events leaving globs of sticky gum in the soils and swamps.

From the 19th century Gum Diggers mined the tree gum (sap) from hand-dug gum pits that unearthed Kauri trees. Exported to make floor varnish, the pits were abandoned by the 1930s as cheaper materials were invented for making varnish.

Amber is hardened/fully fossilized Kauri gum.

NZ protects and replants Kauri by tens of thousands in the north of North Island. There are still giants amongst us. If these old souls could talk.

Advice From A Tree

Stand tall and proud

Go out on a limb

Remember your roots

Drink plenty of water

Enjoy the view!

Ilan Shamir

Previous Northland (Winterless North) Posts

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To see more North Island – click below:


Northland: Cape Reinga

Far Far North – Glorious east/west beaches, Bay after bay is a picture-book spot. Cape Reinga is breathtaking and the point where the spirits of the dead enter the underworld

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Northland: Paihia-Waitangi Treaty

New Zealand was transformed from an exclusively Māori world into one of European domination. The story is told at The Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Far North. The historical site is stunning.

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9 thoughts on “Northland: East Coastal Hikes, West Kauri Trees

  1. So interesting about the kauri trees. While I knew about their vulnerability to disease, I did not know about the amber. It’s beautiful! Did you purchase a souvenir by chance?

    1. The amber is beautiful ..the extraction process…was not cool. Yes. I bought a souvenir…it is a rough, unique gemstone, certified as 44,839 years old. One side is pretty polished, the other side left raw. My plan was to buy a nicer piece at the Kauri/Gum museum near Dargaville, but we never made it to that area. Ran out of time!

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