Deep in the heart of Puketi Forest stands the Kauri, mighty prehistoric giants that once dominated the forests of New Zealand's North Island. Recent projects to reduce pests in the forest have seen a rejuvenation in the flora as well as the restoration of birdsong to the area creating considerable interest from birdwatchers.
The Kauri has a fascinating past, present and future. History tells of mass felling of the trees for its exceptionally strong timber, and 'Gumdigger Wars' for the highly prized Kauri Gum. Measuring up to 50 meters tall and 16 meters wide, many of these trees were cut down over the centuries for boat and housing timber, first by the Maori and later by European settlers. While on the Manginangina Kauri Walk you will discover the conservation efforts underway to protect the few Kaori left standing. Its story of today, and indeed tomorrow, is one of preservation and hope.
Over at the Kawiti Glowworm Caves you will meet New Zealand's tiniest treasures, a special type of glow worm exclusive to New Zealand. Make your way past breathtaking rock formations as you descend into the caves on an enchanting boat ride under the lights of thousands of tiny glow worms.
During this special tour you will also visit Te Waimate Mission House, a museum preserving farming, missionary and architectural history. The once-extensive mission station was established by the London-based Church Missionary Society to instruct Maori in European farming techniques while promoting the Christian way of life. New Zealand's second oldest building, Te Waimate Mission, preserves the stories of important early encounters between Maori and Europeans.
No trip to the North Island would be complete without a stop at the world-renowned Hundertwasser Toilets. This colorful public toilet on the main street of Kawakawa is the final project of world-class artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser's, its signature multi-colored tile collages popping up in thousands of Instagram accounts yearly.
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