In 2017 a kahikatea tree was planted at Hadfield Clearing for every child in Golden Bay. The public involvement continues to build every year for this project, which aims to extend the area of these forest giants in the Abel Tasman.

The ten year project aims to return lost kahikatea swamp forest to Hadfield Clearing is on track to restore 25 hectares of kahikatea forest by 2024, extending the existing remnant forest.

Kahikatea, or white pine, are New Zealand’s tallest trees and the 10 hectare remnant on the Hadfield site is one of the largest stands of this forest type left in the Nelson Tasman region. Students from Golden Bay High School and their families have been very involved in planting at the site, along with Forest and Bird volunteers.

So far, the restoration work has concentrated on the establishment of pioneer species such as manuka to provide shelter for the larger trees. Since 2014, over 40,000 trees and flax have been planted on the site and, despite some browsing, severe frost and a lack of rain; their survival rate has been reasonably high.

Planting of canopy trees like kahikatea began in early 2017.  Natural regeneration is also happening in some areas which is influencing where planting will take place. Pāteke/brown teal were reintroduced to Hadfield Clearing in May 2017 and we plan to return more of these rare ducks to the Park.

Natives planted at Hadfield Clearing

Iconic Rātā tree returning

Northern rātā, with its vivid red flowers in summer, is iconic in the northern coastal areas of the Abel Tasman.

Years of land clearance and browsing by possums has meant only an estimated 30 percent of original northern rātā remain but a planting programme started in 2016 aims to return the magnificent flowering tree to the Park.

As rātā has limited ability to regenerate naturally volunteers and contractors have planted rātā between Bark Bay and Awaroa, and further north from Gibbs Hill to Wainui.  Project Janszoon’s pest control programme encourages the growth of tree ferns and rimu which, in future, will provide sites for natural rata establishment. It is thought southern rātā should return naturally in the interior of the park as possums are controlled.

Rata planted so far

A plan to help black beech compete with hakea

A trial to grow black beech in areas with low-fertility soils may be the answer to suppressing the exotic weed hakea in these areas. But it will take many years to see results.

Two species of the invasive weed hakea are well established in the park. As early colonisers they make their presence known particularly on infertile or denuded sites. They can be easily be seen on Adele Island and on the ridges behind Anchorage. Hakea is not easily controlled by cutting or spraying due to its prolific seeding.   

In 2014 DOC and Project Janszoon began a black beech planting trial on Motuareronui Adele Island looking at beech tree survival in areas of harsh, low-fertility soils that have been burned in the past.  Volunteers from Motueka High School and the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust have helped plant and monitor the beech which are grown with mycorrhizae fungi, which associate with the roots and help the tree draw nutrients from the soil.

Four years later, the trees have had a 87% survival rate which has given researchers the confidence to take the trial to the mainland.  By 2021 480 black beech trees have been planted both on Adele Island and on the ridges above Anchorage Bay with the help of volunteers including ATYA students from Motueka High School.

Ultimately, it’s hoped beech tree forests will reestablish on lowland ridges and headlands where the trees would once have dominated.  In turn this will help to restrict the spread and growth of hakea, which prefers a lot of light to survive.

Photos courtesy of Dave Buckton nelsonphototours.co.nz and Ruth Bollongino fernphotos.com

Receive our latest news

Subscribe To OUR Newsletter

Get notified about our latest restoration work in the Abel Tasman