The New Zealand Native Forest Garden at the Auckland Botanic Gardens

Native Forest

Discover wild New Zealand nature in our forest

Go bush at the Gardens

If you would like an experience of wild New Zealand nature during your time at the Auckland Botanic Gardens, we highly recommend a visit to the Native Forest. Take a short or a long walk alongside streams, through beautiful nikau palm and tree fern groves, and listen to the calls and songs of the busy native birds. Look up and admire the tall, ancient podocarps in the canopy and see if they have any interesting epiphytes hitching a ride up to the forest canopy.

This is a piece of original remnant forest and represents almost all that is left of the alluvial flat forests common in Manukau in pre-human times. It is characterised by mature rimu, kahikatea, miro, mataī and tōtara. These grow alongside some 170 other species of native plants including some that are very special, such as the epiphytic orchid Earina autumnalis, and regionally rare trees such as kaikomako (Pennantia corymbosa).

There are multiple entry points to the trail and different options for short or long walks. The full trail is 4 kms and will lead you on a loop of the whole forest area – it will take approximately 2 hours at a leisurely pace. There are great spots for a picnic on the trail or call into Cafe Miko at the Visitor Centre on your return. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash at all times on the forest trail and in the main picnic area in Totara Park.


The generations of farmers who owned the land before the Auckland Botanic Gardens had the forethought to protect this special remnant of original forest from logging and urban spread. Auckland Botanic Gardens continues to conserve and enhance the biodiversity of the forest. In addition to recreational use, it is utilised as an educational resource - school groups and visitors are able to experience natural native bush and become familiar with a range of native plants and plant communities.

Exploring the native forest with Ruud Kleinpaste

Exploring the Puhinui Native  Forest with Ruud Kleinpaste

Gardening Tips for Native Trees
  • If you want to plant your own forest check out the Auckland Councils revegetation resources.
  • For your garden, it is important to consider the ultimate size and shape of any native tree relevant to the space available.
  • Native trees are best planted in autumn through early winter so their roots can establish before summer.
  • Plant trees into slightly raised beds of well cultivated soil.
  • Mulching will help preserve soil moisture during dry periods.
  • Staking may be necessary for some trees which appear unstable.
  • Newly planted trees will require watering during dry periods for the first few years.


Native Forest restoration guide.jpg


Auckland Council Native Forest restoration guide


Auckland Botanic Gardens protects the high conservation values of this forest remnant in an ecological district that has lost most of its lowland vegetation. Riparian planting protects the margins of the forest and creates a corridor to link with downstream plantings. Seed of priority species, such as podocarps, are collected for the New Zealand Indigenous Flora Seed Bank.


In order to detect trends in biodiversity values, Auckland Botanic Gardens supports biodiversity monitoring in the Native Forest (e.g. vegetation, birds, fish, stream health), including on visitor impacts.

For more information, read this Auckland Council publication about revegetation.


Not accessible – exposed roots and steps.