While the name might suggest that this is a site solely dedicated to trees, the Kauri Museum in New Zealand’s Northland also offers a fascinating look at the nation’s early pioneers. It is true that the kauri tree is native to New Zealand, and one could also make the argument that these towering trees—which impressively rise to over 200 feet in height—were vital to early New Zealand settlements.
When Europeans first arrived in the Northland, they found forests of kauri trees that marvelously blanketed the hills leading down to the shoreline. Entire trees were felled for ship masts while the gum used to make varnish and resin. Everything from homes to ornate furniture was constructed from kauri hardwood.
Today, the museum hosts interactive displays and hands-on exhibits that help bring these early days to life. Wander the halls of the 19th-century boarding house to get a feel for the life of a settler, and spend some time in the Steam Saw Mill to learn how to log a kauri. Or ogle at the world’s largest slab of kauri, which measures in at over 70 feet in length, over at the spacious Volunteers Hall. Much more than just a museum about trees, the Kauri Museum provides firsthand insight into the lives and times of New Zealand’s early settlers.
The Kauri Museum is located in Matakohe, 90 minutes north of downtown Auckland and two hours south of the Bay of Islands. There is an entrance fee of $25 NZD, and the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Christmas.