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MAMMOTHS OF THE FOREST

Some tree species live to a tremendous age. The oldest living things in the world are trees, growing at amazing altitudes in the drier regions of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, USA. These are the bristle cone pines, Pinus aristat, which may be up to 5000 years old. They are not large trees – never more than about 12 m high.

However, the giant sequoias and redwoods of California are species that can reach a great age – up to 4000 years – and are also possibly the most massive of all living land species.

New Zealand’s kauri trees are often very old and large. Ring counts confirm that some of the largest existing trees are over 2000 years old and the massive Mercury Bay tree was possibly 4000 plus years old.

The Giant Kauri

The largest kauri ever accurately measured was the great ‘Kairaru’ located between the Hokianga and Kaipara Harbours in the Tutamoe forest. When measured by Crown Lands Ranger, Henry Wilson, in 1860, it was 20.1 m in diameter and 30.5 m to the first branch. Unfortunately this great tree was lost during one of a series of disastrous fires that swept through the area in the 1890’s. Were it still alive it would certainly match the stem wood content of the largest of the Californian sequoias.

‘Tane Mahuta’ is the biggest kauri standing today. It has a girth of 13.8 m, 18 m to the first branch and has a total height of 52 m. Its trunk volume has been estimated as 245 m3. Just compare that with the common plantation pine tree that yields 2.5-3 m3 when felled at maturity!

Top 10 Living Kauri
Rank Name Location Girth Stem Volume
No 1 Tane Mahuta Waipoua Forest 13.8m 245m3
No 2 Te Matua Ngahere Waipoua Forest 16.5m 210m3
No 3 McGregor Tree Waipoua Forest 13.7m 171m3
No 4 Te Tangi o Te Tui Puketi Forest 12.4m 155m3
No 5 Moetangi 1 Warawara Forest 11.1m 149m3
No 6 Tanenui Manaia Forest 10.1m 136m3
No 7 Yakas Tree Waipoua Forest 12.3m 134m3
No 8 Hokianga Omahuta Forest 9.6m 131m3
No 9 Tairua 1 Coromandel 9.8m 129m3
No 10 Moetangi 2 Warawara Forest 10.65m 119m3

At least 10 more trees have been measured as having more than 100m3 in their stems.

For more information about the Puketi Forest, visit: www.puketi.org.nz















Tane Mahuta & Kairaru
An artist's impression of the respective sizes of Tane Mahuta (left) and Kairaru (right) before it was destroyed by fire.


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