Today was a chance to see the Kauri trees in all their splendour, growing in its natural habitat. We left the lakes and drove to Waipoua forest to see the four sisters – not mine but four Kauri trees growing from one root base, each with a thick tall trunk towering over all the other trees and ferns in the forest. It surprised me that for the height and width of these majestic trees, the root base is very shallow and easily damaged so most of the area has been boardwalked to protect the ancient trees from human curiosity. New Zealand forests are very different to anything at home.It's easy to see why some topple over but is also sad to see ad disease is killing some Kauris. Apart from the Kauri trees, there are lots of tall growing ferns and thin tall trees and because it rains a lot, streams flow throughout. Dappled light cutting through the foliage provides both warmth and coolness. Hidden animals, birds and insects give the forest its unseen music. The ground beyond man-made paths is carpeted with fallen leaves that smells of damp, rotting vegetation.
After lunch we went to the Ngawha hot springs, tucked away beyond the tourist trail. No frills and so much cheaper than the better known areas and just as good. The smell of sulphur wafts over the whole area and several different hot springs are on offer, depending on the temperature required. We avoided bulldog at a heat of 52 degrees; too much even for me. I settled on the one that was 38 degrees and carefully walked down the wooden steps into the blackish hot water. It was so relaxing lying in the silty, muddy water straight from the ground, like having a hot bath without the cleaning element. The minerals apparently have healing properties and are particularly good for arthritis and skin complaints if you use them every day. I really enjoyed the experience.