This is one of my favourite walks around Paihia and a great way to get up close and friendly with some magnificent kauri trees, while respecting their roots and not contributing to die-back. I call it a walk rather than a run, because it’s only 1km in and out and it’s something to do slowly while you breathe deeply and contemplate the declining green spaces in the world and why it is so important to treasure them.
As you wander down the hill and the board walks come and go (is it just me in love with board walks?), the young kauri are growing up through pungas and nikaus. This is classic kiwi bush: unique, authentic, postcard New Zealand.
The walk ends in a raised platform from which you look out to a magnificent old kauri. He’s not as big as Tāne Mahuta, but he’s a fine looking specimen. I don’t know if he has a name.
Kauri, which once dominated the forests in northern New Zealand, are one of the longest living tree species in the world, and one of the largest.
Unfortunately, the wood is both beautiful and useful. Kauri spars were one of New Zealand’s first major exports, the wood flexible and long. Kauri gum was also prized; Māori used it for fire starters and medicine, Europeans dug it from the swamps for varnish and linoleum.
Now kauri are protected and restored, but the trees face a new threat. They are under pressure from kauri die-back, a water mold that carries a pathogen to the kauri’s roots and inevitably, slowly, kills the tree.
Kauri die-back has spread to most areas, carried in soil on shoes and by pests. There is no cure for kauri die-back. There is only prevention. On this Opua Kauri Walk there is a foot-bath on the way in, (scrape, spray and pray), and there are mats and board walks to encourage you to stay on the path. It’s important to give your shoes a good scrub with detergent before and after you go into the bush.
TO GET THERE: This is the reward for the person who drops you off for the Oromahoe Traverse! Take the Oromahoe Road from SH11 just out of Opua. It’s about 6km up a metal road. Go past the board for the Oromahoe Traverse on your right, the Kauri Walk is a bit further along on your left.
It’s about 20 minutes from Paihia.
More information on kauri die-back: www.kauridieback.co.nz