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Giant log on display at Gumdiggers Park

Press Release

7th December 2011

Giant log on display at Gumdiggers Park

A new giant kauri log display is now open to the public at Gumdiggers Park in Awanui, in the Far North. The kauri log was found earlier this year while excavating three smaller kauri logs buried beneath a sandstone layer at the park. The ancient tree has a girth of 9 metres and is 12 metres long. The kauri log is estimated to be around 100,000 years old and was on the same level as other buried preserved trees which were once part of a vast kauri forest on the Aupouri Peninsula. Ongoing study at the park has revealed that two cataclysmic events occurred on the peninsula 100,000 years ago. The park continues to attract scientists from New Zealand and around the world as part of studies on climate change.

Owner John Johnston is very excited about the new addition to Gumdiggers Park: “Over the years we keep improving the park. This year only we have built a new viewing platform and, expanded our video hut, to enhance the story of the gum diggers and the ancient kauris. This new giant log display will allow our visitors to get up right close to one these ancient giants. People can actually touch the tree’.

Gumdiggers Park site was purchased by the Heath family in the late 1890’s with the plan to farm. The family changed their mind when they realised there was money to be made from the flourishing kauri gum industry. The family dug for the gum themselves as well as opening the land up to other diggers. The area was worked until 1937 and then left mostly untouched until the land was inherited in the early nineties. After research by scientists the family decided to develop the unique landscape and with the help of Kaitaia and Auckland archives and the local descendants of the gum diggers pieced together the history of the area also known as the Kaikino Swamp gumfield.

In some of the excavations there was timber buried one or two metres beneath the ground, under an ancient sandstone layer which proved to be a unique situation. A team of Auckland University scientists examined the find and were amazed at the age of the kauri. Scientists have been studying the site ever since. John Johnston developed walkways around some of the old excavations and opened the area up to the public on a donation basis to gage whether there was enough interest to establish a small tourism venture that would cover the expenses on the property and enable the historic site to continue to be preserved.
The business has grown every year and any profits are used to develop new displays.


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