New Zealand trees in New Zealand forest covered back in the 1800s about 70 per cent of the North and South Island of those are 29% remaining today. The widest part is governed by the Department of Conservation. Privately owned areas have to follow strict laws to grant sustainable management.
Extensive timber milling in New Zealand took place between 1859 and 1925. Early settlers earned their living through timber trading and farming purposes. Both activities involved logging huge areas of New Zealand forest. Of this historical episode relics are present to this day at Whatipu, Karekare, and Piha Valley along the Tasman coast as part of the 16,000 ha park land in the Waitakere Ranges.
New Zealand is valued for its richness on flora and fauna solely existing here, and West Auckland is home to many of them. Awareness to this circumstance brings council and communities together to form strategies to protect and maintain New Zealand’s biodiversity.
Under Auckland activities you will find half and full day tours with a local guide who will share insights in Maori history as well as fauna and flora of the Waitakere Ranges.
Cabbage tree – Ti Kouka
New Zealand walking near water, swamps and in forest margins leads often past the widely spread cabbage tree. Their total height becomes 10 to 15 metres. White fragrant flowers are seen in spring to summer.
Captain Cook and his crew named this tree after the taste of its shoots. Their high carbohydrate made it part of Maori and early settler’s diet.
Maoris used these hard wearing leaves for weaving clothes, shoes and fishing utensils.
The native kauri trees grow in New Zealand Northland up to Coromandel . A forest is called Kauri forest yet the kauris don’t have necessarily to exceed on numbers among the New Zealand trees establishing the forest.
They belong to the most ancient trees in the world. With a lifetime of more than 2000 years and a height up to 50 metres they tower above the forests’ main canopy. You will find the oldest standing tree in West Auckland in the Cascade Kauri.
The mighty trees were milled for their excellent hard, straight and long wood. A measure that put their existence on the line and resulted in limited recovered kauri wood supplies used in popular travel gifts like photo albums. Today many of these trees, without any age restrictions, have a natural enemy spread by earth movement. This disease is called kauri dieback.
Home to all New Zealand forests the kowhai tree appears in three species varying in hight and leave size. The blossoms have a brilliant yellow. The Maori naming kowhai reflects this quality. Translated kowhai means the colour yellow. Blooming time is at the end of winter to the beginning of spring from around September/ October.
The yellow blossoms are magnets to bellbirds and tuis. These are widely admired for their vivid songs. A good place to listen is the Kura Track starting at Whatipu.
The manuka tree is sometimes referred to as tea tree and is commonly found in the dryer parts of New Zealand and Australia.
The name tea tree originated from Captain Cook. He used its leaves to make himself a cup of tea. He said that it had a bitter taste that took getting used to, but once the leaves are dried they have a better taste. Manuka is the name Maoris gave these New Zealand trees and is commonly used throughout the country.
Manuka honey and manuka essential oil finds use in health and body care products.
The native nikau palm stands model for many artists. Maoris used them interwoven as roofing material.
It is the palm specie that is found the furthest south. Slow but easy growing it reaches about 10-15 metres in height. From November to April it is flowering in lilac. By November the fruits are ripe and their colour changes orange to red.
The pohutukawa tree is often named the New Zealand Christmas tree. Home to the coast with gnarled trunks its roots cling to crumbling cliffs. Bright red blooms coat it from November to January the summer season. This is reason enough to become a motif on Christmas cards, and inspire paintings of many artists.
When only mentioned this particular one of the New Zealand trees triggers summer memories in young and old. Children climb and swing families gather underneath to picnic or enjoy the shade given by its spreading branches.
Undisturbed rimu trees, that belong to the ancient New Zealand trees, reach an age of 600 to 1000 years. Their height is dependent on age. In a height of 20 to 35 metres the rimu tree towers above the main canopy. Their straight trunk is surrounded by a dark flaking bark and has a diameter of up to 1.5 metres and more. The tree occurs from the far north of New Zealand to the far south on Stewart Island.
The popular red-brown wood with dark strikes is used to craft high quality furniture and items that make great travel gifts made of New Zealand trees. Included are wooden bowls, table mats, coasters and frames, photo albums or artistic sculptures. Sometimes inlays with Maori symbols in paua shell adorn the items.
West Auckland’s regenerating New Zealand forest is home to more than 100 different ferns. As a dominating feature they represent 60 % of species known in New Zealand. No wonder that the silver fern was taken as an emblem for the national rugby team the All Blacks. Further the top netball team derived its name from the silver fern. In various other occasions the fern became part of logos.
The fern inspired the Maori symbol koru and with this many unique gift ideas. The unfurling fern frond in its stylized form is the foundation and carries the values of new beginning, growth and balance.
Encountered flora on a bush walk....