Tāne Mahuta ‘God of the Forest’ – A New Zealand Icon

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Written By Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

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Home » Ancient & Remarkable Trees » Tāne Mahuta ‘God of the Forest’ – A New Zealand Icon

Meet Tāne Mahuta, a majestic titan who roots his way through the pages of history from the Waipoua Forest in Northland Region, New Zealand.

Often referred to as the “God of the Forest,” this kauri tree (Agathis australis) not only reaches skyward with his grand height of 45.2 meters (that’s a whopping 148 feet!) but also boasts a girth that would make any tree hugger’s day: 15.44 meters, or for those who shun the metric system, a cuddly 50.7 feet.

Tane Mahuta
Tāne Mahuta

A tree of such stature isn’t named after just anybody. No, Tāne Mahuta is named after the Māori god of forests and birds, Tāne himself, reflecting its near-mythical presence.

Estimates of his age swing wildly between 1,250 and 2,500 years old, which means Tāne Mahuta was already ancient by the time the Magna Carta was just a rough draft.

Discovered only in 1924 by contractors who were probably more interested in building roads than in tree-worship, Tāne Mahuta soon became a celebrity in the botanical world.

In a cross-cultural nod in 2009, Tāne Mahuta was twinned with Jōmon Sugi on Yakushima Island, Japan, proving that even trees can make international friends.

Jōmon Sugi
Jōmon Sugi is the oldest and largest Cryptomeria tree on Yakushima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan, with an age estimated between 2,170 and 7,200 years.

But life isn’t always easy for a tree, even one as venerable as Tāne Mahuta.

In the 2013 New Zealand drought, a whopping 10,000 liters of water had to be diverted to his roots to stave off dehydration—a beverage order that would make any barista balk.

And then there’s the matter of kauri dieback, a deadly fungus that’s been encroaching on his territory. Thankfully, New Zealand’s Department of Conservation has been working hard to protect this arboreal behemoth from becoming just another fungal footnote.

Tane Mahuta Crown
Tāne Mahuta

So, if you’re ever in Northland, don’t just pass by; stop and give a salute to Tāne Mahuta. After all, it’s not every day you meet a living legend who’s part tree, part historical monument, and all hero.

Size & Location

  • Volume: 18,250 cubic feet or 516.7 cubic meters
  • Height: 148 ft or 45.2 m
  • Circumference: 50.7 ft or 15.44 m
  • Location: Waipoua Forest on the North Island of New Zealand

Visitor Attraction

Tāne Mahuta is a must-visit for nature lovers and is located in the Waipoua Forest of the Northland Region, New Zealand, accessible via State Highway 12.

This ancient kauri tree draws visitors from around the world, eager to see its towering presence and immense girth up close.

Waipoua Forest in Northland Region, New Zealand
A walking path in Waipoua Forest in Northland Region, New Zealand

When visiting, it’s crucial to tread carefully and stick to designated pathways to protect the fragile ecosystem around this majestic tree and prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease.

The local guidelines help ensure that Tāne Mahuta can be admired by future generations, while keeping the surrounding habitat safe and undisturbed.

Want More?

If you found this interesting why not learn about ‘General Sherman‘, the worlds biggest tree.

Or perhaps you would find the Pando ‘tree’ interesting as it is the worlds largest living organism (made up of over 47,000 trees).

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Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

Lakeisha grew up in East Africa, literally surrounded by nature which sparked her interest in learning more about trees and plants from a very young age. She belongs to a family of gardeners, so for her, gardening is a way of life, a tradition she’s proud to uphold. As a self-taught gardener, Lakeisha has successfully grafted trees to produce hybrids for gardens and landscapes. When she’s not gardening, she’s writing about her experience with nature or watching baking fails!