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Nature knows best - "Fools & Dreamers" regenerate Banks Peninsula's Hinewai Reserve

Outdoor enthusiasts love the natural gem that is the volcanic Banks Peninsula, just a stone’s throw from Christchurch.

On the last day, of our guided hiking tour on the stunning Banks Peninsula Track we walk through an extra special part of the peninsula, called Hinewai Reserve.

This is not only a fabulous tramping experience, it also has a fascinating story behind it which speaks to the awesome regenerative power of nature.

A reclamation success story!

Established in 1987 by the Maurice White Native Forest Trust, the reserve today spans about 1500 hectares of native bush in the south-eastern corner of Banks Peninsula.

Estimates suggest that native forest once covered 98% of the peninsula, before human occupation and farming practices reduced that to less than 2%.

Reforestation was sorely needed, and the Hinewai Reserve is a great example of what can be achieved when native forest is allowed to regenerate on land that was once farmed.

Through the vision and hard work of botanist Hugh Wilson and friends, it is possible to walk the hills once again on bush tracks, surrounded by an abundance of native forest birds.

The private reserve includes about 40 km of walking tracks open to the public, including the part of the Banks Peninsula Track that we walk through.

Nature knows best

Interestingly, the transformation from open pasture and gorse to native vegetation occurred rapidly.

This shocked many locals, who’d been used to fighting back the gorse in order to keep the land as pasture. But whereas gorse is a terrible weed for pastural farming, it’s a wonderful nurse canopy for native forest regeneration!

The fascinating story of the bunch of ‘Fools & Dreamers’ that dared to give nature a chance to do its thing is beautifully told in the free 30-minute documentary FOOLS & DREAMERS: REGENERATING A NATIVE FOREST.

Want to know more?

Hugh Wilson – manager and kaitiaki/guardian of Hinewai Reserve - hand-writes and illustrates a newsletter about the reserve, Pīpipi, which the Trust publishes several times a year.

If you’d like to stay up to date with developments at the reserve, you can read the latest newsletters on the official website of Hinewai Reserve.

To really appreciate its beauty, however, it’s best to go and enjoy the native bush reserve yourself in person – come join us on our next trip to the Banks Peninsula Track!


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