November 16th, 2008 – by: Rubbertoe
The Ancient Kauri Kingdom
Another night in the car meant another treat, so what better way to start the day with a big, fat, juicy English breakfast at The Ancient Kauri Kingdom and Café, fill me up baby!!
The Ancient Kauri Kingdom in Awanui is an amazing showroom of handcrafted products, fine art and impressive furniture made in house from the old Kauri logs dug up locally. These trees are said to be 45000 years old and their diameter is massive, try wrapping your little arms around one of these big boys… you’ll need at least 6 to 8 people! Seriously, these logs are gigantic and they have been perfectly preserved for thousands of years lying under peat swamps, sealed from the air.
The grain is beautiful, polished to a mirror finish with a deep golden colour and soft to the touch. All products on display are for sale, but keep in mind that the uniqueness of each 45000 year old piece comes at a price, so bring your credit card, re-mortgage your house and have an ambulance on standby… My favourite piece is a beautiful staircase entirely carved within a Kauri Log, pretty impressive and massive!
That was an interesting stop, back on the road I went passed Kaitai and over to Ranglora, where I jumped on the Hokianga Vehicle Ferry and joined state highway 12 on the other side, south borne along the west coast. This took me straight through Waipoua Forest, which is home to the largest living Kauri tree in New Zealand, Tane Mahuta, the lord of the forest.
This is one big piece of wood! Hey, with a trunk girth of 13.8 metres I bet he’s popular with the ladies :-) The photos don’t do him any justice, you really have to walk personally through the forest amongst tall trees and come across this big beast, it looks totally unreal. It is said to be around 2000 years old.
Bottom of staircase carved from one log
My final stop to complete this wood-tastic day was a visit to the Kauri Museum in Matakohe. I got there a little late unfortunately, with just 1 and a half hours to spare, and the museum was so interesting that I could have easily spent much longer. There are many rooms to explore: like the Sawmill, with all the tools and machinery to saw the logs into timber; Volunteers Hall, with a massive 22.
5 metre long kauri slab in the middle, various pieces of furniture and a mural showing the cross-section of the largest Kauri trees to be recorded (the first one being Tane Mahuta and the biggest one the Giant Kauri Ghost, with a trunk girth of 26.83 metres!!); Smith Wing, with more equipment for transporting logs, milling timber and felling trees; Ross Wing, with many carvings, timber panels, busts etc.; and a Gum Room, with the world’s best Kauri gum display and some amazing carved pieces of NZ amber. I’m not big on museums but this wonderful exhibition was really well presented and I totally enjoyed it.
top of staircase carved from one log
Conveniently, there’s one of those top ten holiday parks just next door to the Museum, so I checked in and had a good night sleep, dreaming of big trees and sharp carving knives…