Hanging Out with Kauri Trees
By Kristine Kaoverii Weber | April 8, 2021
On Monday my husband’s friend Rob, invited us (me, Brett and our son Bhaerava) to go on a “nature healing walk” with him. Rob is burly, sweet, and deep. He originally hails from Holland but now lives north of Auckland in the forest. He wore a single tooth earing that I never got around to asking him about. How to best describe him? He’s both earthy and mystical – like if Hagrid and Elsa had a baby.
Anyway, Rob took us to a preserve of Kauri trees near the town of Kerikeri (and we went to other preserves near Whangarei as well).
Traditionally, the Kauri have been sacred trees to the Maori because they are the great protectors of the forest and many species of plants, animals, and birds shelter in or beneath them. Some Kauri are adorned with lianes, twiney, bushy plants that sprout from their boughs and remind me a bit of orchids without flowers.
Traditionally, large Kauri were ceremoniously named and revered as stewards and chiefs of the forest.
Rob took us under a lush canopy and had us gently touch the trees and listen. He told us the trees hold the stories of the land and the people in their subtle vibrations. Many are 200-300 years old, some perhaps 2,000 years old.
At the foot of a tree Rob pointed out two big Kauri snails and some iridescent cerulean (and highly hallucinogenic) mushrooms called Blue Meanies. The amber sap of the Kauri drips out and solidifies into big chunks – sometimes preserving insects or salamanders for hundreds of years.
Unfortunately, these majestic trees are dying from a mold/pathogen that targets their root system. When we walked into the forest, we had to clean and disinfect our shoes and stay on the path to avoid any further contamination.
Here’s a video of my son demonstrating how to clean your shoes before and after entering a Kauri forest.
“Of course, it’s about their immune systems,” Rob told me, “not just the pathogens. They are struggling with immunity in the same ways that humans are – which makes sense. We are all part of the web and the web is in trouble.”
We also walked under clusters of tree ferns or Mamaku. They are the biggest ferns in NZ/Aotearoa and can grow as high as 20 meters. I was drawn to rub my hands over the lovely detailed, symmetrical patterns on their trunks. Some of them are covered in moss.
The peace and quiet in the forest was occasionally punctured, almost exclusively, by the calls of Tui birds who sing a sweet, longing-filled song. We also saw fantails who are so cute and curious, they like to find branches at about your eye level, twitter around, and talk to you a bit.
Spending the afternoon in the forest cathedral with Rob was powerful and sacred. I asked him about his healing methods. “I used to talk and explain things about the plants, but I realized that it wasn’t so helpful,” he told me. “So now I just ask people to sit with the trees, be present with them, and listen. That’s all. The forest does most of the work.” Which reminded me of similar sentiments I’ve heard wilderness therapists express.
When we emerged I felt like I’d been plugged into and recharged by a force way beyond my rational mind. I feel like my adrenal glands and nervous system long for (or even demand) these kinds of experiences.
We flew back to Christchurch the next day but the feeling of interconnectedness has not abated. I sort of feel like I got initiated by the trees. Now, I want to keep touching them and listening.
When I told a friend that I was moving to New Zealand she said, “Ah, you just wait and see – it will work its healing magic on you.” Yes, there is magic here – but, honestly, I think there’s magic everywhere. Sometimes it just takes a nudge from a special person to help us tap into it.
If you’d like to know more about Rob (he’s also an artist) check out his photography here.
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What a wonderful experience…it reminded me of being in the red wood forest of Northern California; the trees call out to be touched and invite you to understand we are all connected. I’m glad you shared, I needed that memory today.
Hey Lona, thank you! Yes the redwoods are so magical too – did you know they actually brought a bunch of them to NZ about a hundred years ago so there’s a grove here too!
I have gone “forest bathing” myself and the effect is magical.
Thank you for sharing.
yes it really is!
Im enjoying seeing New Zealand through your eyes Kristine, and like you, enjoy solitude in the bush. Its very nourishing. Rovs art is beautiful. thank you for sharing x
I understand your sentiments perfectly. We are about to go bush for 4 days out from Te Anau tomorrow . The magic is always there. The orchid like plants up in the trees are also called ‘widow makers’, because if they fell on the gum diggers or foresters they could cause the wife to be a widow! They are very heavy.
Oh how wonderful Christine! I hope you have a magical time. I had no idea that the lianes were called widow makers, Rob didn’t mention that one LOL!
Aw thanks Sally! I’m so glad we got to meet and I hope we get to spend some more time together soon! xo
Christine! You’re moving to New Zealand!??? As a new yoga teacher, your posts resonated with me. I noticed that you were based in Asheville NC… but now it seems you’re moving closer. I love in Leigh north of Auckland and I’d love to connect with you.
I’m actually already here! We’ve been here since January, I’ll be teaching in Auckland in August. Feel free to email! firstname.lastname@example.org. xo
I love forest bathing in our local area of outstanding natural beauty – Cannock Chase (Staffordshire, UK). Being in nature with the trees is such an awe inspiring thing to do. It’s my ‘go-to’ place when I need to press the reset button. Nature never rushes, she teaches us the way to be. So happy for you that you’re loving live in NZ. With love from England x
yes it’s so true and there are so many beautiful places on this planet to connect!
What a wonderful experience!
Kristine, this is the most lovely virtual tour of A “forest bath” experience. Your friend, Rob seems shamanic. He has beautiful art work that breathes of connection and unity with all things living. You have inspired me to find a guided “forest bath” experience at the Arboretum in Chaska, MN.
For today, a hike with my buddy pup, Finnegan at Springvale will do. He pauses and listens with me and…he pauses while I go into asana🙏☮️ Love and peace to you.
Yeah, he really is something of a Shaman and his art is incredible! Finnegan sounds adorable – dogs can be Shamanic too!
I love to hear of your trip to the forest, it reminded me of my Honeymoon there 5 years ago. The Kauri trees are really something special. thanks for bringing that all back to me again. Enjoy New Zealand every magical part of it and more xx
Aw that’s so beautiful Dee! What a great place for a honeymoon!
Thank you for the experience so breathtaking.
What an absolutely lovely experience! It sounds magical!
Thanks Cathy! Yes it really was!
I love the description of Hagrid and Elsa having a baby!
Forest bathing – Shinrin’yoku
Nature provides us all with a sacred space to reconnect. It’s such a blessing.
I love talking with the trees and walking in the forest. “May the Forest be with You”
Thanks Jen. I lived in Japan for 2 and a half years and spent a lot of time in the forests there as well – they are also quite magical, especially the forests of Fukuoka
I’m a long time tree lover and so glad you had this experience. Makes me want to go there but for now, likey you so beautifully said, the magic is everywhere, you just have to listen. So today, I will sit in the woods behind my house and just be at one with the trees.
Ah, I love it! The trees are very good meditators I think!
Amazing… Kristine, such a beautiful experience. I could feel your joy and healing energy while reading this eloquently written experience you had in the forest.
Thank you Ruby! xo
I’m just buzzing that you are in NZ and experiencing her magic and I can’t wait to come to a live workshop with you in Auckland! Love the Kauri’s – they are so strong and special, you’ve articulated the forest and the birds so well 🙂
Ah thanks Jennie! I am looking forward to meeting you! xo
Thank you for sharing your hike, I feel like I was there with you, not a long blog but effectively communicated. Beautiful! Continue to enjoy every moment.
So Magical and Meditative Kristine. You are a gifted writer. Felt like I was there with you. I read the piece twice, truly enjoying your NZ experiences. Amazing! Thank you so much.
Thank you Padmaja!
Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing:)
Thank you Laura!
Dear Kristine Kaoverii Weber, Thank you so very, extremely much for sharing this profoundly beautiful, powerful, “healing nature walk” from the Northland -Aotearoa, New Zealand! Rachel Carson wrote in her book ‘The Sense of Wonder:’ “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” Blessings, grateful, health, for the Earth, from the Angeles National Forest, Pacific Crest Trail, California, USA.
Thank you Allaire!