Nature Trail

Nature Trail

The trail starts on the drive in front of the house. To find the Nature Trial stations, follow the bushwalk and look for numbered wooden posts set into the ground. The trail stations are in order from 1 to 20. Many of the trees featured in the nature trail will be labeled.

Description of Trail

What follows is a copy of the Nature Trail pamphlet which is available in the box at Station 1.


This is the start of the Nature Trail. The field in front of you is covered with Daffodils during September/October.


Acorns from the Oak Tree

The large trees on your right are Silver Birch trees. On your left the largest trees are called Oak trees, and the smallest Maple trees. One main feature is the Tulip tree which flowers in spring. Can you identify these trees?


You are now at the entrance to the Bushwalk. Looking up, the largest trees are Flowering Plums and amongst them is a New Zealand Kowhai, with its small round leaves.

Kowhai flower

Rangiora Leaf

Below find the Rangiora bush with its large green leaves and white underneath. This plant has the unusual nickname of bushmans toilet paper. The white side of the paper can be used as writing paper. Can you find the small Ngaio tree?


At this station you can see the drain that runs underneath the trail. It collects the excess water that runs of the Daffodil paddock. You can see a drainage system throughout the reserve as you continue the trail.

The two feature trees are New Zealand Matai. They can be identified by their bark. It looks as though it has been hit many times with a hammer. Notice the wisteria vine covering the ground and winding up the tree trunks.

Matai tree

Dove tree in flower


The large tree with up-reaching branches is called a Dove tree. It is also sometimes called a Ghost or Handkerchief tree. It has large white hanging flowers in November

Opposite is a Magnolia tree with purple flowers during August. Bush Begonias with their large round leaves, purple underside and bright yellow flowers during March/April, border the path. They die down in the winter. Look for the large Punga fern with Water Fuchsias behind covered in soft purple flowers in the summer.


At this station there are many Lancewoods. You can recognize them by their long thin trunks. Their leaves are also long and narrow with jagged edges. The Ginger plant is confined in the drain and flowers bright yellow in March/April. Behind the Ginger is the soft leafted Tree Ageratum, smothered in clusters of purple flowers during the summer. Can you see the trunk of a Matai tree?

Lancewood tree

Puka tree


There are two distintive New Zealand natives, the Puka tree on your right and further left the Taraire tree. Behind you, a bushy Chinese lantern, flowering red bell like flowers. Above this is a Datura bush with yellow trumpet shaped flowers. Both these flower throughout the summer. You will find station 7 in the grassed clearing ahead.


Look upwards and you will see a large Puriri tree. Its red berries are New Zealand's native Pigeon's favourite food.

Puriri Flowers

Cabbage tree

Turning to the right are two cabbage trees, high up, the Kahikatea with its distinctive pyramid shape, a Pukatea and then the Copper Beech with its dark purple leaf. Further to the right, within the clearing, is a large Sugar Maple and an even larger Golden Ash. Now head down the pathway to station 8.


The feature tree here is the Ginkgo (Maidenhair Tree) which has butter yelow Autumn foliage. Looking to the left is the Kawa kawa (Pepper tree), another Kahikatea (white pine), then a Titoki and a Tawa tree. Behind is the bushy growing Star Magnolia (flowers in winter) and more Tree Ageratum. Look at the name of the twisted tree in the Hebe garden.


Datura flower


To your left you can see the yellow and purple foliage of a Japanese Maple. On your right Datura bushes with long yellow and red trumpet shaped flowers throughout summer.

Looking up, you can see a huge Kahikatea (white pine). This is the largest tree in the reserve estimated at 900 years old. (Kahikatea is New Zealand's tallest tree and can grow to 60 metres high). Spot the beehive where the tree branches. Walk around the base of the Kahikatea and find the axe scars where it was saved from being cut down. How many of you can link arms around this tree?


Gunnera leaf


From here you can see large Rhubarb like leaves. This plant is called a Giant Gunnera. These huge leaves die down in winter. To the left are several Nikau palms. Along the path edge is another Bush Begonia with jagged edged leaves.

On the other side is a Hen and Chicken Fern (Asplenium). So called because it grows lots of small ferns on its older fronds which eventurall fall off or weigh the frond down to set root in the soil.




Looking down into the gully you can see a large grove of Giant Bamboo, and one lonely Punga fern. Behind you are three large Totara trees.

They have stringy bark which peels off very easily. There are many Totara in the Reserve, be on the lookout and see if you can spot any more. Now head up the fern trail to the next station.

Totara tree



As you walk through the fern walk you can see many different varieties of ferns. Some of these are labelled. Which type of fern do you like best?

Looking up over your head you can see a dense canopy of trees. These trees are Totara and Titoki. The canopy blocks out much of the light and this creats a dark damp environment which the ferns like best.

Another Fern

Fruit Salad Plant


In front of you is a 600 year old Pukatea. There is a fruit salad plant (Monstera) and a native orchid attached to the tree. These are called Epiphytes because they grow quite happily clinging to an old tree. How many Nikau Palms can you spot from here?


This is the bottom end of the Reserve. These trees make up the shelter that protects the bush from the prevailing wind. They are very important as they stop the fragile native bush from being damaged by the strong wind that would otherwise rush down this gully. Macrocarpa are the trees lining the fence boundary. The plantation is Douglas Fir and Japanese Cedar (Cyprtomeria). Can you spot some Totara trees amongst them?

Japanese Cedar - small cones and spiky foliage

Silver Fern


From here you look down into the gully onto the Punga trees and Silver Ferns. The Silver Fern is one of New Zealand's national symbols, natably our rugby and netball teams use this symbol. The Silver Fern is smaller growing than the Punga and has green leaves top side and silver underside. There are lots of young Totara trees along the high side of this area. Follow the trail to the Central Reserver View point.


From this lovely view point you can see a wide range of trees. How many of these trees can you identify? There is a Rubber Tree on the left. An evergreen Magnolia with large glossy green leaves on the far right. Find the bottle brush tree. It has red spiky flowers in the summer. In front of the rails is a bank of Agapanthus which have blue flowers on long stems during January/February.

Agapanthus flower

Totara Leaves


In front is a large Totara tree. this tree is over 200 years old. See how the bank is loose and in long strips. Go and feel the leaves, they are small and prickly.

If you walk a few more paces down the trail you will come to a Macadamia tree. This tree has long narrow jagged leaves which are also prickly to touch. Further on is a Banksia tree. It has spiky cones and the bark is very bubbly.


The tree in front of you is called the Australian Fire tree. Once every 3-4 years this tree drops its leaves and breaks out into bright red flower which makes the tree look on fire. Looking across the lower path is a large Redwood Tree from China. Its delicate leaves turn yellow in Autumn and its bark has a reddish tinge. Looking back along the path, just behind the Corokia hedge are two big Gum trees. These are smothered in red flowers during summer and the bees from the Kahikatea are very busy collecting their nectar. Can you see a Matai tree behind you? Look for the hammer marked bark. Follow the trail to the lookout.


Tui Kingfisher Fantail


This is the lookout. From here you can see where you have travelled. Looking out on the horizon you can see the grand old Kahikatia towering above all the other trees around it. On the left are some Matai trees, can you recognise them? As you walk away from the lookout the trail is lined with Agapanthus. Rangiora is also abundant.

You have almost completed our Nature Trail. Were you quiet enough to see any of these native birds?


The Circular garden is in memory of Ormond Wilson's lifetime of work creating this bush reserve. In the centre circle is a Magnolia with flowering Cherries behind. Turning to the left are Titoki,Michelia, a large Liquid Amber, Camellia bush, and a magnificient Magnolia grandiflora which as large rubbery white flowers during summer.

Magnolia flower

If you have taken a Nature Trail pamphlet from the box at station 1, please return it. Mt Lees is a non profit organisation. A small donation to help cover costs, would be greatly appreciated.