Kauri trees are to New Zealand what giant sequoias are to the U.S.—towering, majestic, living monuments to a time when the natural world was the only world there was. The Waipoua Forest, on the northwestern coast of New Zealand's North Island, is where the oldest kauri trees in the country—and perhaps the world—live and grow. Among them is Tane Mahuta, the largest known living kauri, whose name means "Lord of the Forest" in the Maori language. Thought to be around 2,000 years old, Tane Mahuta stretches 167 feet up into the forest canopy, its 46-foot-wide trunk festooned with vines, its labyrinthine branches hung with bromeliads and the nests of birds. Though a walking path through the forest leads visitors practically right to the tree’s base, many simply stand with their cameras dangling: the tree's enormity simply doesn't translate in photographs.
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