Unforgettable Waipoua Forest

Monday is my 'Hug A Tree' day therefore it is only fair I should write about one of the most amazing experiences I had in my life which was in a far far away forest in New Zealand, at night One of the highlights of the Hokianga and  Kauri Coast in the Northerland  is the  superb forest sanctuary filled with rare New Zealand flora and fauna, mighty kauri trees, nocturnal kiwi, feather-like ferns, amongst a sub-tropical rainforest - this is the New Zealand Department of Conservations 9105 hectare Waipoua Kauri Sanctuary Forest. Of course you can visit  this amazing place at any time you like but it is at night that the magic of Waipoua fills the heart and senses with memories of a lifetime. I remember the first time I met Bill, my Maori guide, our foreheads met in the traditional Mari greeting  on a late afternoon. "Come Lei, there is someone you need to meet" .

 We arrived at the edge of the forest as the sun was setting behind the trees and after a short safety briefing  we entered Waipoua  and left the real world behind.  This is no ordinary woodland, this is one of the most ancient forest on earth  that filled my senses. As daylight was fast been replaced by stars above the canopy of the trees, the fragrant smells of the many plants were surrounding me , Bill walking in front of me, talking quietly in his deep voice explaining  how the Maori use the many plants and  the bark of the trees as medicine or  in their cooking.  I did lost track of time, it seemed to me we walked for only a few minutes but  all the light was gone,  the stars were shining, the night sounds of the woods all around us, a love call of a male Kiwi bird for his female.  Not been able to see , but able to touch, I was told to let my hands  feel softly the trees and the plants, and so I did, stopping often to  hug a tree  or gently caress a fern. " Listen to the trees, Lei...they are talking to you ; can you hear them?"

I am glad it was so dark so no one really saw my tears. I felt lonely at first, then  sad, but also happy . The trees were soothing and made me feel safe and protected.  And so we walked and walked into this enchanted old forest. I remember looking up and seeing the stars twinkling above the branches like little fairy lights. Bil still  beside me, talking in his deep voice   , telling me how he had left a busy life in Auckland to return to his birthplace  to reconnect with the trees, his Maori roots, and a happy simple life by the forest.  Finally we reached a platform in a a glade and here we stopped.  The sounds of the forest, the fragrance of the plants, the whispering voices of the ancient trees , in darkness. Suddenly a match was lit, Bill was holding a chunk of resin from the tree  that was now slowly burning in his hands filling  the nostrils with the sweetest perfume,  and in the faint light I was told to turn and meet who I had come to meet : Tāne Mahuta, The Lord Of The Forest! Tāne Mahuta, one of the oldest and largest trees in the world at 51m high and with a girth of 13.8 metres,  in front of me.  His canopy so big there is a garden filled with flowers and ferns up there.

No one spoke no more for many minutes the only sound  came from the night noises of the forest until  Bill started to sing an ancient Maori song ....Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou , ka ora ai te iwi. He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!.... Then the faint light of the burning resin went out and silence returned in the forest when suddenly I felt someone putting something into my hand. A warm chunk of resin, still warm was the gift  of the forest for me, and to this day it is one of my most precious treasures to remind me of that amazing night in the enchanted  wood of Waipoua, and my dream is to go back  one day.


B-Byte said...

Look like a wonderful place to visit! impressive story about the Lord of all Trees :)

Leilani said...

It is a truly magical place, it is hard to explain how I felt when I was there, it was intense and unique, writing down the memories and telling the story did bring it all back to me. It is a place to go back to, for sure :)