The nīkau palm is our only native palm and unique to New Zealand. It is the southernmost member of the palm family and the most southern point you will find it in the park is near Torrent Bay. You see occasional examples as you walk north before coming across beautiful groves near Totaranui and Wainui Falls.
It is easy to recognise with its circular trunk, and large clusters of flowers that burst from the base of the lowest frond. The flowers are sticky and sweet with nectar, which attracts insects, especially bees, and birds like tui and bellbirds. The bright red nīkau fruits take about one year to ripen and are also an important food source for native birds, particularly kererū and kākā.
Nīkau is very slow-growing and research has found it can take 40-50 years to begin to form a trunk and about 200 years to reach 10 metres tall. You can get an indication of a trees age by looking at its trunk as, on average two fronds are shed each year, and they leave behind a scar.