Kauri forests once covered this region. Waipoua State Forest contains the largest collection of the remaining trees. A short path leads from the parking area on the main road through the forest to Tane Mahuta, "Lord of the Forest," and the largest tree in New Zealand. It stands nearly 173 feet high, measures 45 feet around its base, and is 1,200 to 2,500 years old. The second-largest tree, older by some 800 years, is Te Matua Ngahere, about a 20-minute walk from the road. If you have a few hours to spare you can visit Te Matua Ngahere and other trees of note. Head to the Kauri Walks parking lot about a mile south of the main Tane Mahuta parking lot. From there you trek past the Four Sisters, four kauri trees that have grown together in a circular formation, then the Yakas Tree (named after an old kauri-gum digger), and Te Matua Ngahere. The forest has a campground—check at the visitor center before you pitch a tent. Facilities include toilets, hot showers, and a communal cookhouse.
When it's wet, you may spot large kauri snails in the forest. Also, the successful eradication of predators such as weasels and stoats has led to a rise in the number of kiwis in the forest. You'll need a flashlight to spot one because the birds only come out at night. The Waipoua campground and Waipoua Visitor Centre is managed by Te Iwi O Te Roroa, the local Māori tribe.