Famed for its 144 subtropical Islands, the Bay of Islands is less known for its subtropical Kauri Rainforests. The Kauri Trees giant presence and magnificent stature leave many breathless, and can be easily accessed. Many tracks in the region are all weather tracks, and can cater for the less able or time poor with a 10 minute Kauri Boardwalk, right through to the hardened walker with a couple of 2 day walks in the area. The Puketi Kauri Rainforest is a 35 minute drive from the Bay of Islands main centre of Paihia, 20 minutes from Kerikeri, and a short 12minutes drive from the Bay of Islands airport. Along with its neighbor the Omahuta Forest, it forms one of the largest tracts of native forest in Northland.
The Kauri has a fascinating past, present and future. History tells of mass felling of the trees for its exceptionally strong timber, and ‘Gumdigger Wars’ for the highly prized Kauri Gum. Without question, it was the draw card for most of the early pioneers to this part of New Zealand. Its story of today - and indeed tomorrow - is one of preservation and hope. Many stands of Kauri are now highly protected, and projects such as ‘Awaken Puketi’ by the Puketi Forest Trust, are working to improve the forest environment for the flora and fauna that exists.
Recent projects to reduce pests in the Puketi Forest have seen a rejuvenation of flora, and a restoration of birdsong to the area, creating considerable interest from birdwatchers and walkers alike. Walking in a Kauri Forest with a guide will certainly add value as the stories of the past, as well as those of the plants and animals that inhabit the Rainforest environment can be learned. In other parts of the Northland region, visitors can replant Kauri forest as part of their journey leaving a lasting memento of their NZ visit.
NZ forests contain no dangerous animals, so walking on the tracks can be undertaken in relative safety as long as you keep an eye on the weather, and are well prepared for your walk ahead with warm clothes, good shoes and refreshments.