Lookout color code

Information panels in the lookout tower

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North corner, right angle shelf


New Zealand's natural and historical places, native wildlife and
plants are national treasures that we hold in trust
for future generations.
The Department of Conservation has been entrusted with their
management and protection. The department administers all public
land and property which is protected for natural,
scientific, historic and recreational reasons.
Forest parks have been established to protect the natural and historic
values of the landscape as well as to cater for the wide range of recreational uses.
The Waipoua Sanctuary is home to the kauri giants - TANE MAHUTA,
the YAKA tree and the MCGREGOR.
Tracks to the big trees and elsewhere in the forest feature
areas of great historic and scenic interest.


To the northeast is the McGREGOR RESERVE which was bought by the
New Zealand Restoration Trust in 1985 with funds raised by public
subscription. The purchase was supported with finances from the
Queen Elizabeth II National Trust. The reserve was dedicated on
November 1985, as a memorial to the man who did most to save Waipoua.
In 1988 a further block of 101 hectares was added, making it
a total of 247 hectares in the Reserve.
The Reserve is partly covered in cutover forest and partly in regenerating
shrubland and grass. It is bounded to the east and north by the
Waipoua Sanctuary, and on the south side the Katui road
along the ridge forms the boundary.
The Reserve commands a fine view of the sanctuary. It is the intention
of the Restoration Trust to encourage the regeneration of the local
forest species in the cleared areas, and ultimately to make
the forest continuous with the Waipoua Sanctuary.


Kauri occurs naturally north from Kawhia to Tauranga but once extended across
the entire country during the last 2 million years.
Kauri ancestors were dominant 225 million years ago.
The largest kauri accurately recorded was Kairaru in the Tutomoe forest near
Dargaville. It measured 30.5m to the first limb and was 20.1m in girth.
It perished during forest fires in the 1890's.
Tane Mahuta, now the largest kauri, measures 17.68 m to the first
limb and is 13.77 in girth, half the size of Kairaru.
Despite its immense size, kauri has a comparatively shallow and
exposed rooting system with only a few peg roots to anchor the tree.
This makes them subject to windthrow.
A mat of feeding roots grows through the humus and builds to form a mound
or pukahu around its base. This humus is an accumulation of the bark, leaves
and branches that are shed. This shedding of the bark gives kauri its hammered
appearance and frees the trunk of clinging epiphytes. The shedding of old
branches and leaves produces a trunk that is straight-grained, blemish-free and
of high quality timber that can be used for many purposes.
The limbs of the crown sometimes double the height of the tree.
The leaves grow directly onto the bark clustered at the end
of branchlets of the upraised branches.
Injury to the tree produces the sticky resin, a natural process by which the
tree protects itself from infection and rot. This kauri gum was
exploited by gum bleeders in the past and was used in making
wood furniture varnish and other products.


East corner, door to deck


East corner, no panel


A stand of young 'RICKERS' is seen to the southeast.
Regeneration of kauri forest occurs in gaps in the forest. Seedlings grow
where they are free from competition from dense root mats of mature
kauri with sufficient light, moisture and nutrients.
Sparse seedlings develop into the pole or 'RICKER' kauri that sometimes
persist for over 50 years before breaking through the forest
canopy and developing into the mature form.
'RICKERS' can be thin poles or trees up to 80cm in diameter with
branches all the way up a tapering trunk.
The mature kauri form occurs once the lower branches are shed naturally
and the trunk loses its taper by the thickening into a cylinder.
The branches of the crown lengthen and turn upwards.
Male and female cones develop on the same tree. Female cones are the flattened egg
shaped cones found on the forest floor. The seeds are
released high in the tree from early February and are spread by the wind.
Less than 50% are fertile and the number that germinate is low.


Picture of a mature kauri (Photograph by Leo Geary),
kauri seedling, Kauri grass (DOC photos not shown),
male and female cones with kauri seeds (DOC brochure, courtesy DOC) (seeds, courtesy Rose Cowan, the volunteer caretaker).


Areas of pasture were once kauri forest that have been logged and burnt.
The timber would have supplied mills at Kaihu, like James Trounson's in the
late 19th Century. The land was settled for farming.
Despite pressure on Seddons government to continue settlement, this was suspended
in 1906 after a policy change in the Forests Act (1885).
Establishment of the Waipoua Sanctuary in July 1952
finally gave Waipoua legal protection.
The farmland would revert to native forest if current farming
practices stopped. Manuka invades pasture and makes an environment
suitable for forest seedlings to grow.
Exotic weeds invade the sanctuary but only on slips
and banks and other disturbed areas.

[ Between 9 and 10: also, a notice about


Glassed in case with brochure. Toatoa Identification Trail brochure.
Waipoua Sanctuary brochure. Trounson Kauri Park brochure.


South corner, no panel


West towards the Tasman sea kauri/taraire forest abuts exotic
plantings closer to the coast.
The kauri were logged in Waipoua in 1944 to 1948. Since the 1930's pines
(mainly Pinus Radiata) have been planted on the
burnt-over gumlands towards the coast.
Gumdiggers burnt off the coastal country continually around the turn
of the century for easier access to the peats that held buried gum.
Fire has been a part of history of the coastal gumlands for as long as 1000
years when fires were lit by Maori occupants for agricultural clearing
and when kiwi hunts possibly got out of control.
Around the turn of the century approximately 600 gumdiggers were continually
lighting fires in the gumlands to get easy access to the
gum rich peats. European settlers also had fires which got out of control.
During the 1930's controlled burning was used as a protective measure
to prevent fires spreading into dense kauri forest. There are now many
stands of dense kauri saplings and other high forest species
in the thick shrublands.


Man has influenced the coastal area for over 1000 years. The mouth
of the Waipoua river is due west of the lookout. It has been estimated
that the river flats and the surrounding forest supported up to
1000 inhabitants in pre-european times.
Amongst the pine trees are lines and mounded platforms of stones that
are believed to be associated with agriculture and irrigation systems.
Pa lookout sites are evident on prominent high places and villages
occupied lower ground.
At Kawerua, to the northwest, a hotel shipped in in 1890 served
gumdiggers and passing drovers. Gumdigger villages
existed as far into the forest as the Ngaruku swamp.
The area around Kawerua has been farmed.

14 Geology

The land has been built up over sandstone sediment and stoney deposits
laid down under the sea 35 million years ago. This became covered by
volcanic lava flows and baked sediment around 15 million years ago.
Seven million years ago more sediment, silt and pebbles were deposited.
This was followed by the intense earth movements which uplifted the land
and gave rise to New Zealand's present geography.
Along the 12 kilometres of the Waipoua coastline around 2 million years ago,
sand to the depth of 25-45 metres stretched inland and comprised of moving
dunes and sandy terraces cut by streams and rivers.
Stable sandy topsoil has developed under the kauri forest and scrub
and has low natural fertility with underlying iron and silica pans.
Further inland the sand is mixed with clay. Strongly leached soils,
modified by kauri forest and derived from volcanic rocks, underlie
the plateau forest in the east.


No panel


West corner, no panel


Floristically, Waipoua forest is one of the most diverse areas in Northland.
It also represents New Zealand's largest remaining tract
of mature unmodified kauri forest.
Kauri can occur as a solitary tree, small groups, or in large groves in a
forest dominated in number by other species. The forest however is termed
'Kauri Forest' because of the ecological distinctiveness the kauri gives it.
There are many species which grow in association with kauri.
Dense mature kauri forest usually covers just a few hectares mostly
on poorer upper slopes and ridge tops where light competition with
other species is minimal. However, kauri can occupy a variety of
other sites including wet plateaus and fertile gullies.
The coastal shrublands are fire-induced gumlands, or pakihi, and
contain a variety of gumlands species including sedges, tangle-fern,
Dracophyllums, and many small herbs and orchids. There are also
dense areas of manuka, kanuka, and towai shrublands.




Dense kauri forest is commonly associated with dense tussock thicket
of Toikiwi and Kauri grass, Neinei, Towai, Kohekohe, Tawa, Maire,
Tanekaha, Rimo, Miro and sometimes Toatoa, Kawakawa and Manoao.
Towards the coast, kauri is commonly associated with Halls Totara,
Miro and occasional Tanekaha and Rata.
Kauri tolerates poor soil and also drops acid litter which causes further leaching of
soil minerals. Under dense kauri forest seedlings
often fail to establish until the tree falls. This creates a lightwell
and allows rapid growth of the moribund kauri seedlings.


North corner: left angle shelf

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Last Modified: Sep 9 1998