Gumdiggers Park is an authentic piece of New Zealand history. Home to the oldest non-fossilized wood found on earth, the buried ancient Kauri trees are something to see. Developed only enough to make it safe for visitors, Gumdiggers Park is fascinating, even to our teens.
Walking along lush green forest paths, we found labels explaining just about everything. We saw young and mature kauri trees, an ancient buried forest, an old gum diggers’ village and rare geckos.
It only takes about an hour to explore this ancient Kauri kingdom. We recommend it for everyone driving up the Aupouri Peninsula to the top of the North Island.
What are gum diggers?
As explained better in the photos below, gum diggers are the people who dig in the ancient Kauri forest for the tree gum or resinous sap. From the late 1800s to 1920 gum digging was a principal income source in this part of New Zealand.
The fossilised sap, or kauri gum, hardens over thousands of years into beautiful (when polished) New Zealand amber. A more practical use of the gum is in high-quality varnishes.
Gum Diggers Village
In Gumdiggers Village, there is a short (15-minute) loop video of gum-digging history. Apparently, the original gum diggers wore leather boots but soon changed to rubber boots to keep their feet dry. The name “gumboots” has stuck in New Zealand. You may know them as Wellingtons, mud boots, or rain boots in other parts of the world.
Keep a close eye on children. Many of the guide ropes are just on the other side of gum digger holes. Falling into the holes would be dangerous to both the child and the land.
Rubbing amber: is it like a fountain of youth?
What Makes Gumdiggers Park special
“All around we see the devastation in the name of progress, so it is a no-brainer for us to keep the habitat here as a sanctuary for the last remaining indigenous plants and animals that live here. Out of just this valley of 4000 acres, this is the last 70 acres left. And also the ancient forests that lay buried here, are truly unique and help scientists worldwide with their study into climate change, and the history of this once huge industry that helped to found Auckland and Northland.”
Practical information on visiting Gumdiggers Park
Remember to walk through Gumdiggers Park with respect. Everything you see is authentic, old, and irreplaceable.
- Gumdiggers Park is open daily from 9 am – 5 pm.
- Allocate about an hour for a visit, although if you are in a hurry and skip the video, you could see it all in about 30 minutes. It is worth the time and cost.
- Located at 171 Heath Road in Awanui, this Park is quite easy to find on the way up to Cape Reinga. From Kaitaia, travel north on SH1 for about 20km. Turn right at the second time the loop road Paparora Road intersects, followed by a left turn onto Heath Road.
- Keep a close eye on children. Many of the guide ropes are just on the other side of gum digger holes. Falling in the holes would be dangerous to both the child and the land.
- This part of our favourite 4-5 day self-drive itinerary around the top of the North Island.
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These are our go-to companies when we travel. We believe this list to be the best in each category. You can’t go wrong using them on your trip too.
- Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
- Accommodations: we use Booking.com (hotels) or BookABatch (self-contained).
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- Campervans or Motorhomes: we use Campstar where Albom Adventures readers get a 3% discount
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- Travel Insurance: our go-to is World Nomads*.
Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.
*World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
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Have you been to Gumdiggers Park?
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- Sandboarding at Te Paki Sand Dunes, New Zealand
- Ninety-Mile Beach at Sunset – Northland, New Zealand
Disclaimer: We were granted entrance to Gummdigger Park to take photos for this article. However, the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
Gum diggers Interesting!!! I’ve never heard about it. I’m glad that i stumbled upon your web blog and got to Know an Interesting thing to Know.This place looks amazing and worth visiting.
My partner comes from Paparore, just around the corner (literally) from the Gum diggers Park. Over the years on our visits back there we have watched the park develop saw the signs go up and the buses and tourists arrive. It’s been great seeing this development in the Far North take off. Congratulations on a job well done. One day we may even pop in and have a look around.
How cool. What a wonderful place to grow up. The scenes all around there are magnificent, and the gum digger information is really interesting. You really should check it out next time you are there.
Juergen | dare2go
Thanks for sharing this interesting bit of history from our neighbouring country to the south. I never knew about gum diggers. Now I wonder if such an occupation also existed in Australia’s past; I’ll have to do some digging myself (on Google).
I didn’t know about the gum diggers before I visited either.
150,000 year old trees?! Holy cow! It’s amazing, and I love the part where it says “Warning” but you’re allowed to rub the amber for youth. Oh, if it were only that easy… Awesome pics! Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂
It is also pretty amazing that they can figure out the trees are that old.
That is exactly my kind of vacation, what a beautiful spot and fascinating! Thank you for sharing!
For a small country, New Zealand has so much to offer.
What a fun tour, it was fascinating learning about the tree and the special sap and amber that can develop from this, love the tropical vibe of this forest.
I agree, I found the entire park fascinating, and easy to understand. So much information I never knew.
My great grandfather was a gum digger in the far north of NZ. This was fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing. I’ll be sure to visit here myself one day when I go to NZ.
Wow, that is so cool. Owner/caretaker John is really approachable so be sure to tell him about your great grandfather. I’ll bet you have some great stories to share together.
Lyn (aka) The Travelling Lindfields
We have been to New Zealand half a dozen times. I thought we had just about ticked everything interesting off our list but you keep putting up blog posts which make me want to plan another trip there.
LOL – Lyn, it may be a small country, but it is fascinating, at every turn.
How beautiful, Rhonda! I guess it must be nice and warm in New Zealand now, not that I have to complain about California. I really love parks like this, I wish we had some closer to where I live. That stump hole seems huge! I guess that tree must have been larger than a sequoia. Very beautiful pictures, like always.
We lived in the San Francisco area for 15 years before coming to New Zealand. The weather is quite similar, although it rains more often here – and opposite seasons. As for the trees, you have me curious so I looked it up, and am still confused. If the sequoia are the Sierra redwoods, then they are bigger, otherwise it looks like it is Kauri. But this is only comparing the largest of each tree:
Sierra Redwood 32 feet—unusual, 40 feet
Kauri Pine 24 feet
Coast Redwood 18 feet—unusual, 22 feet
Mexican Cypress 20 feet—unusual, 40 feet
Bald Cypress 15 feet
Japanese Cedar 12 feet
Your photos are beautiful! That old tree is pretty cool. Have a great week!
indah nuria Savitri
I’ve never heard of it before but surely looks like an amazing place :). That oak is huge indeed..
New Zealand was an untouched paradise for so long before people discovered it, so there was plenty of time for the trees to grow. It is a Kauri Tree.
Quite awesome. Seeing something so old really puts into perspective our place in this world’s history, doesn’t it? I’d love to visit someday.
It sure does.
Wow! Thank you for sharing! What great photos and I really enjoyed learning about gum diggers. I had never heard of this before finding your blog!
Such a huge industry in New Zealand from early in the last century, it surprises me how little people (including myself) know about it.
The more I read your posts, the more desperate I am to get to New Zealand. Thank you for your continued inspiration!
LOL – You will get here, but come for a while. There is too much to see and do for a short visit.
fascinating! I love amber- so soft a color! Thanks for showing us and have a great day!!
Nature is so incredible and wonderful that it allows us to get something so beautiful from the tree sap.
What a fantastic adventure! Have a fantastic week!
What an interesting place! I would love to visit your country one day!! but it is sooooo far from Italy!
That’s how we feel about travel to Europe, so far . . . but always worth it.
PippaD @ A Mother's Ramblings
Wow, what an interesting place to visit. I’ll have to add it to my wish list!
Allow a few extra days to explore the top of the North Island. Too many people land in Auckland and only head south.
Could you go back and rub the amber for me, too?
LOL – I don’t think it works that way, sorry.
Wow. What great pics and what a great park. I want to go.
It is on the way if you are heading from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga.
I’d love to go there! A few years ago we went to Mesa Verde and I loved it!
It is quite different from Mesa Verde (if you are speaking of the one in Colorado).
I enjoyed this story so much. Your information and photos are interesting, and if I were there I’d certainly go see this fascinating place. It’s remarkable what our old earth does with things, such as the sap from these trees, making them into gorgeous pieces of amber. Excellent, and thank you for sharing.
I’ve never heard of this before today. How cool. I would have loved to visit this park. So rich in history and I love history. Great shots too.
Have a fabulous day Rhonda. 🙂
I think this is just your kind of place. You will love the entire Aupouri Peninsula
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Never heard the expression gumdiggers before. I learned something.
Some of those trees were huge!
True. The Kauri Trees get huge.
Teresa from NanaHood
You teach me something every week! Thank you!
This looks so interesting! I have never even heard of gumdiggers or gumdigging. One of these days I need to get over to New Zealand and explore!!
This is very close to the top of the North Island. Schedule a long trip so you will have time to explore the whole country.
Fascinating place! That amber is amazing.
There was a display case filled with it. There used to be more, but the place had been robbed.:(
I found that interesting never heard of gum diggers loved the photos too 🙂
Have a gumdiggingtastic week 🙂
I hadn’t either, before I came to New Zealand.
Interesting post and wonderfull fotos, best regard from Belgium
Fascinating. I’d never heard of gum digging. Your photos & accompanying text have been enlightening!
Interesting to know about gum-diggers,never heard before.Now,I searched in Google and read few more articles too.Beautiful photos of the place..
Gum diggers was a big industry in New Zealand.
I have a photo of my grandmother working in the gumfields up North in NZ
How cool is that! What did the women do? Was it the same as the men?
Hi Rhonda – interesting to read about the gum-diggers .. I’d never heard of them before … fascinating to read that the forests used to cover most of North Island. Wonderful trees and history .. I’d definitely visit at some stage … cheers Hilary
I didn’t know anything about gumdiggers before visiting. I agree, it’s all pretty interesting.