History & Map

The History of the Kauri Coast has evolved around some of New Zealand’s natural giants!

  • The Northern Wairoa river, the longest navigable river in New Zealand.
  • The Kaipara Harbour, the largest natural harbour in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • The Kauri, one of the world’s mightiest trees.

Early development was associated with the kauri. Timbermen moved in and felled mature kauri trees for building material. Sailors were also quick to realise that long, straight grained trunks of young kauri trees were ideal for ships masts and spars.

As the area around the Kaipara Harbour developed, timber mills started to flourish and kauri logs, sawn timber and kauri gum were hauled out of New Zealand by ship over the Kaipara Harbour bar. At the height of the timber trade as many as 26 ships a day left on one tide.

As the timber began to run out towards the end of 19th century, trade shifted to the export of Kauri Gum. One of the main areas of the Kauri Gum industry was in fact an area called Babylon, so called because during it’s busiest period, so many people of different nationality were working there, communication was sometimes difficult.

The Babylon Coast Road, of today, takes its name from this earlier period in its history.

As the timber and gum ran out the settlers turned to pastoral and crop farming. The rich farm land of today is evidence of the settlers and their successors hard work. Many of the farms that you see today have been developed over a period of between 60 – 100 years.

Today the surviving kauri forests are probably about 1% of the vast forests that once grew in Northland. The Waipoua forest was probably protected initially by its inaccessibility. The rivers in that area were not large enough to transport logs to the mills.

The Waipoua was purchased by the crown in 1876 and was set aside for forestry rather than settlement. However after the second world war there was much pressure to harvest the kauri and convert the land to pasture. In 1947 the Waipoua Preservation Society petitioned 52,000 signatures and presented it to parliament and the 9105 hectare, Waipoua Forest Sanctuary was declared in 1952.