Kahikatea forest was once extensive in the Nelson area, but it is now almost regionally extinct. When mature, kahikatea are New Zealand's tallest trees and they were once found in most of the Park's wet valleys. The timber is not durable so was not used to build houses or fences but it was valuable for making butter boxes and milled extensively so the trees are now very rare.
The project will extend an existing 10 hectares of the forest at Hadfield Clearing behind the Awaroa Inlet. Ultimately 25 hectares will be planted in kahikatea and other suitable native species. Pest control will also allow the return of threatened native wetland species like pateke/brown teal which were reintroduced in May 2017.
The ten-year project will see 12,500 trees planted per year. Planting of manuka, kanuka and a range of other species began in autumn 2014 and local nurseries have been contracted to grow more trees. Hadfield Clearing is Golden Bay High School's Adopt a Section site and students, as well as volunteers from groups like Forest and Bird, Pacific Discovery and NMIT Trainee Ranger programme have helped plant many species.
Fernbirds are heard regularly at the site and it is possible that banded rail, Australasian bittern and marsh crake are also present.
The land is part of a block farmed since 1863 by several generations of the Hadfield family and now administered by the Department of Conservation. An old woolshed, fences and some exotic trees will be preserved to help tell the story of the Hadfield family.
The existing stand of kahikatea
Students from Golden Bay High School at Hadfield Clearing