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The Historic Ahipara Gumfields

Kauri Gum History Tony Yelash Image Gallery Today

The Historic Ahipara Gumfields

    Not far from Kaitaia, in the far North of New Zealand, there is a small coastal settlement called Ahipara two or three shops, a school, a scattering of houses. About half-way along the beach, the road through Ahipara turns steeply upward into the hills.

The hills are high, and the road dwindles to a clay track as it winds further and further up. From here, you can see all the way along Ninety Mile Beach to Cape Reinga.

Then the road levels out. You are on a wild and lonely plateau. The sight and sound of the sea are left behind, as the road meanders over barren and broken country. All around, the horizon is close there are no hills, no mountains in the distance, only sky. The soil is a greyish-white sandy clay, and all that seems to grow is thin, scrubby manuka.

It is a bleak and desolate place, and you feel as though you have reached the end of the earth. There is no sound but the wind, and no sight of any living thing - not even birds. It is hard to imagine that only fifty or sixty years ago the whole landscape was alive with hundreds of men.

What were they doing here? How did they make a living? And why are they gone?

The answers provide a glimpse into a fascinating chapter of
New Zealand history.

Kauri Gum History Tony Yelash Image Gallery Today