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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Mixed Broadleaf Types

By and large, the coastal forests consisted of mixed broadleaf types, though in many places they contained some podocarps, or, in the north, kauri. Most of this forest has disappeared and the lower remnants are usually eaten out by stock; intact samples are rare. The coastal forest from the North Cape to the East Cape and Taranaki was dominated by karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus), kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile), pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), and puriri (Vitex lucens). In many places the nikau palm (Rhopalostylos sapida) occurred in large numbers. The coast to the south of this had forest containing much karaka, kohekohe, ngaio (Myoporum laetum), and nikau palm, extending as far as the tip of the South Island, and along the West Coast of the South Island as far as Westport. The coast of the Sounds-Nelson area, however, was principally covered by beech forest. On the West Coast the broadleaf forest contained a high proportion of podocarps, mainly rimu, growing right to the cliff edges. Much of this still remains as does southern rata (Metrosideros umbellata) forest on the rugged Fiordland coast. Although not strictly forming a forest in New Zealand, the mangroves (Avicennia resinifera) must be mentioned. They occupied – and still occupy – tidal mudflats from the north to about latitude 38°S.

The lowland and montane forests away from the coast, although they consisted mainly of broadleaf trees, contained a varying proportion of coniferous trees, usually podocarps. In some places there were broadleaf forests without the coniferous component, but these were limited in area. This, however, is the type of forest that remains now, because podocarps and kauri have been logged out leaving behind broadleaf trees only. There are a number of distinct types. One that is common on the Mamaku plateau and West Taupo region is dominated by hinau, Eleocarpus dentatus, with its olive-like fruit, and kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa). In other parts of the same area, and extending into the Urewera, are forests containing hinau, kamahi, much kohekohe, and some northern rata (Metrosideros robusta). Throughout most of these broadleaf types there is a content of kamahi. In the South Island southern rata becomes a dominant tree in many places, but kamahi remains very common.

High-altitude forests, if not of beech, are nearly all of mixed broadleaf types. Throughout the North Island kamahi is a very common tree at the upper limits of forests. Similarly, on the West Coast there are both kamahi and southern rata. Forests composed mainly of these two trees clothe the western flanks along the central part of the Southern Alps. These forests can be severely damaged by a combination of deer and opossums. In the Fiordland area much of high-altitude forest consists of southern rata, and in the Catlins area, on the south-east coast of the South Island, kamahi is again the principal tree. Upper timber-line belts are largely composed of broadleaf shrubs made up frequently of species of the two genera of tree daisies, Olearia and Senecio.