Rainforests in New Zealand
What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you think ‘rainforest’?
Quite possibly some of the following; thick lush trees and plant life, wildlife and the huge diversity from insects to reptiles, birdlife, mammals, big cats, primates…
But also; animal extinction, conservation of endangered species, the ecological importance and how it affects our global climate, environmental issues, pollution, destruction of rainforest, tourism…
The sheer beauty and the weather that comes with them; they are called rainforests for a reason!
Rainforests of New Zealand:
Rainforests are commonly classified as tropical and temperate; in the South Island of N.Z. rainforests fall into the temperate classification with broad-leaved trees. The South Island’s west coast is the wettest area of NZ.
In the northern part of the country we find sub-tropical rainforests.
Just 30 minutes from N.Z.’s largest city Auckland, lies the Waitakere Ranges, covering more than 1600 hectares of sub-tropical rainforest, dramatic coastlines and black sand beaches.
Flora: These rainforests are home to the mighty kauri trees, much of which has been milled, although there is still some evidence of this giant with 1,000 year old trees still standing.
Waitakere Ranges showcase many of N.Z.’s native evergreen trees, shrubs, forest floor plants including orchids, ferns & liverworts, mosses, tree ferns, including the ‘nikau’ the world’s most southern growing tree fern.
Butterflies and Moths – NZ has a very small butterfly fauna. Moths are far more common.
Birds – once alive with diverse and numerous ranges of species, many are now extinct, including the moa, due to predation from introduced mammals.
However with active conservation efforts more of NZ’s endangered birds are slowly being reintroduced such as the Kokako and North Island Robin, and other native birds such as the tui, wood pigeon, kaka (NZ parrot), tomtit, morepork are beginning to increase in numbers. Again the call of the birds is slowly returning.
Bats – the rare long tailed bat is found in a few areas although illusive and difficult to spot.
With around 250km of walking and hiking tracks in the Waitakere Ranges, where the rainforest gives way to the coastline, beaches, wild surf beaches there is much for the visitor to enjoy. And although this area is a rainforest where much of Auckland City’s water supply comes from it doesn’t always rain and even if it does it is truly magical!
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist