The kauri is an extra ordinary tree. The young sapling grows rapidly as a straight pole to the height of the surrounding mature forest. It then breaks out into a large expanding crown of olive green foliage, which towers 20 meters above the forest canopy.
The clean, straight bole of the kauri is unmistakable. As the tree matures it sheds it’s lower branches producing the clean kauri trunk, straight as a dye, the bole often reaching 20 metres up to the first limb.
The Kauri Forest is almost tropical in its diversity and has an atmosphere quite unlike any other New Zealand Forest. Kauris are only found in about one third of the Waipoua Forest. They do not grow in one species forests. Usually they grow in small stands or as individual trees creating a small eco system of kauri grass, neinei, epiphytes, ferns and mosses. All the northern trees can also be seen in the forest: rimu, totara, miro, tanekaha, kahikatea, maire, rewarewa.
The Waipoua Forest is an important refuge for threatened wildlife. The endangered North Island kokako and the North Island brown kiwi both live here. More abundant are the kukupa, fantail, pied tit, tui grey warbler shining cuckoo and kingfisher.
The Kauri Snail also lives here. It is carnivorous eating mainly earthworms, slugs and soft bodied insects.
These are giant grasshopper like insects endemic to New Zealand crawl around late at night. They were once the prey of the tuatara, the sole survivor of a group of reptiles that existed 200 million years ago, along side the dinosaurs.
Tuataras are now only found on a few scattered, predator free, off shore islands.