Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd

Roger and Kaye Young began planting their property in 2014. Our front paddock of 1.5 hectares was always wet in the winter but the quakes made it even lower so we hatched a plan to restore it to what it might have originally been like. 4,750 native plants from 34 species were planted in 2014 with the guidance of Steve Brailsford and assistance from Whakaora Te Waihora.

We soon found out that getting plants in the ground was the easy part. Weed control in the early years was time consuming but essential. After the first 3 years we reduced the herbicide, electing to hand weed to better support the prolific seeding and natural regeneration that was occurring. It is a constant joy to see how nature is adding layers to the original planting.

Predator trapping started 5 years ago and we now enjoy the benefits of resident fantail, wax eye, bellbird and visiting wood pigeon. King fisher and little owl have nested in the bordering old willows, ducks enjoy nesting amongst the carex, pied stilt have nested in the dry, while quail and pheasant have flourished.

It is only 1.5 hectare and just 6 years since we began but with a bit of work and some investment, it has enhanced our property and brought many positive changes. However, don’t underestimate the huge amount of post planting care which is needed. We recommend making sure you get good advice form experts, not only about what plants should go where, but also on the most effective ways to ensure you get the best possible survival rates of the plants, and how to maintain them once they’re in the ground.


2014 2020
Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd
2014 2020
Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd
2014  2020 
Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd  Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd 
2014  2020 
Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd
2014 2020
Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd Young’s Ephemeral Wetland – Old Tai Tapu Rd



The Summit Road Society is a charitable trust that works to protect and preserve the Port Hills. The Trust owns four reserves on the Port Hills including two bush reserves within the Te Kakahu Kahukura project area, Ohinetahi Reserve and Omahu Bush.

Omahu Bush lies above Tai Tapu. It is one of the finest examples of native bush left on the hills with both old remnant trees and spectacular ferns. Over the last few years we have been building up the trapping network to best practice densities, targeting rats, hedgehogs, possums, stoats and weasels. We have been also undertaking some small scale planting along the edges. Natural regeneration is well underway and we are fortunate to have some abundant seed stock.

The biodiversity of Omahu Bush

The biodiversity of Omahu Bush


Planting at Omahu Bush Expanding the trap network at Omahu Bush


Ohinetahi Reserve is above Governors Bay. This 150 ha reserve is a mixture of tussock grasslands and regenerating bush at various stages. It was severely affected by the Port Hills fires. Since the fire, we have undertaken a massive planting programme. Natural regeneration is also underway including many trees that have resprouted after the fires. We have been steadily building our trapping network and this will be added to over time as funds and time allow.

Preparing for planting

Resprouting after fire

Student Volunteer Army assisting with planting
Stoat caught in a DOC200 trap



Head of the Harbour A and B

Head of the Harbour A and B co ver a rare intertidal saltmarsh ecosystem in Teddington, the last reasonably in-tact example of its kind left on Banks Peninsula and in the region and is regarded of National significance. Hugh Wilson, manager of Hinewai Reserve and noted ecologist rated it as ‘Recommended Area for Protection Number One’ in his 1980’s survey work with Landcare Research. It has been widel y recognised by many organisations over the years for its unique features of high c onservation value.

There are many nationally threatened or at-risk plant and bir d species supported here. It represents nationally significant bird habitat and is t he second most important estuarine system for wading birds in Canterbury and a key part of a wider ne twork of coastal habitat linkages for many other bird species.

Soft-underfoot plant mats c omprise an array of diverse species forming an other-worldly rainbow of colour – unlike that found in any other ecosystem. It is the only coastal/estuarine habitat complex remaining on Banks Peninsula that retains all the distinctive coastal wetland habitat types – mudflats, saltmarsh, saltmeadow and tidal creeks.

Botanist Hugh Wilson noted that although much of the wider saltmarsh area has been highly modified for grazing and the intertidal mudflats have lost their original eelgrass turf due to excessive saltation, it still is the most extensive saltmarsh vegetation in the Region. All sorts of weird and wonderful species exist in this unique environment including two that are nationally threatened or at risk; salt windgrass Lachnagrostis tenuis and purple musk Mimulus repens. Plants exist in special communities; glasswort herb fields, native salt grassland, saltmarsh ribbonwood Plagianthus divaricatus shrubland and sea rush rushland. Notable ‘salt pasture’ plant species, (some uncommon or rare) include saltgrass Puccinellia stricta, remuremu Selleria radicans, sea barley grass Hordeum marinum, glasswort or samphire Sarcocornia, various lichens – Ramalina , Usnea, Teloschistes, and the tiny Parmelia, sea rush Juncus maritimus, shore button daisy Leptinella dioica, water pimpernel Samolus, shore buttercup Ranunculus acaulis, plus many others.

Birdlife is abundant, with excellent feeding and nesting opportunities for a wide range of coastal and wetland species. It is an important staging post for many migratory birds. Several species of gull, tern (black-fronted, Caspian and white-fronted), pied cormorants, eastern bar-tailed godwits, pied stilts, variable oystercatchers, black and little black cormorants, royal spoonbills, herons and kingfishers among others all frequent this area. Crabs are particularly abundant.

It has been a pleasure working with these proactive landowners who treasure these special sites and are committed to managing them long-term for the best possible conservation outcomes. The combined area of over 12 hectares is a significant gain for future generations to enjoy.



Perched above Allandale overlooking Lyttelton Harbour, McPhail covenant is one of three lower altitude sections of a much larger protected area below Ohinetahi Reserve and Cass Peak. Regenerating secondary-growth native forest with mixed hardwood canopies and native vines like those found in this covenant are valuable for both native plant and animal biodiversity. Though it is a small covenant at half a hectare, it provides a valuable ecological stepping stone in the wider landscape, being closely connected to a network of other reserves along the Port Hills. 

Hugh Wilson described the area as an attractive bush gully reaching down towards Allandale Lane from the forested areas above with a canopy of kanuka, kōwhai, lemonwood, māhoe, lowland ribbonwood, Muehlenbeckia australis, supplejack, pigeonwood, lowland fivefinger, lancewood, and fuchsia. Species also include kōhūhū, ngaio, sevenfinger, kaikōmako, red matipo, marbleleaf - putaputawētā, wineberry, cabbage trees, and silver tee ferns.

Seven species of native vines and climbers have been recorded in the covenant including New Zealand jasmine, bush lawyer, New Zealand bindweed, yellow clematis Clematis foetida and the stunning white pōhuehue Clematis paniculata. These species play an important role in edge succession.

Ecologist Geoff Walls described the forest understorey as a diverse mix of native shrubs, ferns, and herbaceous species. Native iris Libertia ixioides, several green-hooded orchids, and bush lily Astelia fragrans were recorded. Common understorey shrubs include small-leaved species such as mikimiki, native nettle ongaonga, and poroporo. There are several Coprosma species (C. rhamnoides, C. rotundifolia, and C. tayloriae). At least nine fern species occur commonly in the understorey including necklace fern, Asplenium gracillimum, lance fern, Kiwa Kiwa Blechnum fluviatile, hounds tongue fern, and prickly shield fern.

Birds common in and around the covenant include bellbirds, fantails, grey warblers, harrier hawks and shining cuckoo. As the bush continues to regenerate and mature it will become increasingly attractive to kererū, morepork, rifleman, brown creeper and tūī from surrounding areas. It should also increasingly favour tree weta, and geckos and skinks in areas where existing fruit-bearing shrubs stand.

There was a small open area at the top of the covenant, dominated until now by introduced grasses such as cocksfoot and Yorkshire fog. Following retirement from grazing, the grasses developed into a dense sward, inhibiting germination and growth of native seedlings and therefore slowing regeneration of native forest. The Port Hills fires just reached this corner, and as damaging as they were elsewhere, actually provided a good opportunity here for replanting. McPhail is one of four properties which Trees for Canterbury donated plants to. These were gratefully received and will complement the existing bush well when established.

Both photos Melissa Hutchinson


Lansdowne A and B

Tucked in the head of Ear ly Valley off Old Tai Tapu Road, the Lansdowne covenants are truly unique. They enclose a steep rocky gorge covering a combined 17 hectares. Microclimates range from hot dry outcrops to damp shady areas in the valley floor. A stunning waterfall follows a series of unusual rock pool formations through Lansdowne A. ‘Brice Falls’ was officially gazetted by the current owners in honour of t he notable local Canterbury pioneering family who originally owned this property. The stream starts in Kennedys Bush Reserve near the Summit Road, flows through the covenant, down the Lansdowne Valley into the Halswell River and out t o Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere. By excluding stock and allowing regeneration to take place stream water quality will continue to improve. 

Lansdowne B sits mostly on hot dry north-east facing slopes. Both are restoration projects aimed to increase indigenous flora and fauna over time through careful management. These covenants are in close proximity to Burkes Bush below the Summit Road (an old forest remnant BPCT covenant) and not far below Kennedy’s Bush Reserve.

Much of the Port Hills podocarp forest was removed by fire during Māori settlement and replaced by tussock-dominated shrublands. Accounts from the 1850’s record “The whole of the Hoon Hay and surrounding basins filled with splendid bush – massive tōtara, white pine (kahikatea), black pine (mataī) and plenty of giant broad leaf manuka, kōnini (fuchsia) and tree ferns”. Despite another major fire setback in 1868, remnant trees and shrubs survived in secluded areas such as Lansdowne Valley.

Rather than wait longer for nature to “run her own and fascinating course” to ensure steady native regeneration in this valley (as suggested by Hugh Wilson – noted botanist, in 2007), the owners decided to boost the regeneration process by planting hundreds of trees over many years to compliment remnant native shrubs and trees. Controlling the worst weeds and mammal pests (possums, goats, and deer) also helped to protect the emerging young understory.

The diversity of flora and fauna was constantly improving in an exciting transition from exotic weed dominance to young native broadleaf habitat. Gorse and broom were acting as a nurse crop for emerging native seedlings in many areas, with kanuka already outcompeting it, forming its own canopy to harbour native regeneration only five years after fencing to exclude stock from this fragile environment.

The covenant was beginning to play an important role as a landscape stepping stone for indigenous flora and fauna by providing habitat – food and shelter, for the spread of bird, invertebrate and lizard species.

But, then…. the devastating 2017 Port Hills fires hit, and most, but not all of the hard-won gains were lost. Some older trees were spared. Sadly, the fires destroyed most vulnerable things in their path including fences, leaving a charred landscape with skeletal cover. The picture has changed dramatically in the short term with the loss of nurse crops and the appearance of dense grass swards, but hopes remain to see thriving native life developing again, and the know-how is there.

The owners’ inspiring vision despite the immense fire damage, to facilitate the transformation of this highly altered ecosystem back to its former forest glory, was not deterred. Stiffening of this resolve was demonstrated shortly after the fires, with fence reconstruction plans immediately put into action, and new tree planting plans getting under way.

Since the fires, the owners with support from the Trust, agencies, volunteers and local restoration business Brailsfords Ltd have planted thousands of new trees, mostly donated generously by Trees for Canterbury over the last three years. Steve Brailsford and his team made a significant and hugely appreciated input in time, energy and resources supporting all plantings including an adjacent donated trial area. Well planned long term planting and careful maintenance will ensure maximum survival rates and ecologically functioning plant communities. Scientific studies to learn more about effective restoration techniques specifically for burn zones is also being carried out by Canterbury University students on this site. 

BPCT is proud to continue supporting these remarkable landowners in managing the area to reach its potential into the future, even though the full ecological benefits of this legacy may be several decades, or even centuries away.

Photo Andy Nicholson Photo Tina Troop



Burke’s Bush

This significant 16-hectare podocarp forest remnant near the sign of t he Bellbird on the Summit Road provides an important ecological stepping stone for the spread of biodiversity on Christchurch City’s Port Hills’ side of the Banks Ecological Region. Hugh Wilson, botanist produced a special report on this area in the 1980’s, highly recommending it for protection. It is now one of many protected public and private areas, stretching from Gebbies Pass to Kennedy’s Bush Reserve and fur ther around to Victoria Park. Fortunately, this covenant narrowly escaped the extensive Port Hills fires of February 2017. Telling burn marks on trunks of ancient podocarps within the forest reveal that this special place has nar rowly escaped destruction by fire before. Incredibly, this forest remnant has also sur vived logging and grazing on the front faces of the Port Hills for the last 150 years.

Tall forest would have originally provided the main vegetation cover over this part of the Port Hills, however most of t his would have been burnt during Māori settlement. When Europeans arrived little of the tall old growth forest in the covenant area would have remained and a mix of silver tussock, bracken, shrub land and regenerating forest would have been common. The arrival of European settlers saw the destruction of all but the rest of the smallest forest remnants as the land was developed for farming. This land was originally owned by Burke, a prominent sawmiller in the area.

That modification since has seen introduced grasses and gorse now providing the dominant land cover. Kennedys Bush, Omahu Bush and Burkes Bush are some of the few remaining forest remnants on the western side of the Port Hills that still retain some tall podocarps (tōtara, mataī and kahikatea). Much of the native plant diversity has persisted and with grazing removed, the bush is strongly regenerating, wonderfully encouraging after Hugh Wilson noted in 1986 that the interior floor had been grazed bare.

The forward-thinking current owners with the support of the Trust, fenced it in 2016 to exclude cattle, sheep and deer, and are intensively controlling gorse outside the covenant area. They are also particularly vigilant in the battle against introduced pests in the area. 

Canopy closure is formed by a wide range of established species, tōtara and mataī being the most notable. Fuchsia, māhoe, lancewood, olearia and many other broad-leaved species are present inside the bush where suitable understory conditions exist, while thriving kanuka growth dominates the edges as regeneration extends outwards. Flourishing native jasmine vines are notable throughout. A long-term monitoring programme has been set up to measure the effectiveness of covenanting (excluding browsing stock and managing pest species) for biodiversity gains which will inform future conservation efforts not just on the Port Hills but right across the Banks Ecological Region.


Streat’s Bush

This three-hectare double covenant lies right on the doorstep of Christchurch city. Situated in Cashmere, it reaches westward from Pentre Terrace to the valley below near Cracroft. Streat’s Bush is a planted forest revegetation project and includes a couple of small waterways and several massive rock outcrops.

Original owners Gloria and Garth Streat began planting in 1981 on a completely bare paddock. It has taken much toil and perseverance with many setbacks to overcome, by both the original and successive owners to establish native trees to the point where self-seeding and natural regeneration processes are now under way.

Over time, the tree lucerne (planted as a nurse crop), gorse and broom should continue to keep fading out as they are outcompeted for light, nutrients and water by the establishing natives. As the bush regenerates it is becoming increasingly attractive to native birds which will increase seed dispersal thereby also speeding up the establishment cycle of new native plants. Native birds using the covenant include kererū, bellbirds, riroriro (grey warbler), fantail, silvereye and kingfisher, and hopefully in time, tūī. Native skinks are likely to be present, as are various native beetles, moths, butterflies, spiders, stick insects, cicadas, weta, snails and other invertebrates.

Tree species present include ngaio, narrow-leaved lacebark, lowland ribbonwood, kanuka, kohuhu Pittosporum tenuifolium, karamu, lemonwood - tarata, cabbage tree, broadleaf, akeake, kōwhai, golden and mountain akeake, māhoe, tōtara, Pittosporum ralphii, Coprosma virescens, koromiko, harakeke and wharariki (swamp and mountain) flaxes. Ecologist Geoff Walls noted in his survey that the covenant would be a good place to plant some threatened species, for example fierce lancewood Pseudopanax ferox, Banks Peninsula koromiko Hebe strictissima, bloodwood Coprosma wallii, fragrant tree daisy Olearia fragrantissima and Olearia fimbriata. It would also be a good place to re-establish beeches (red and black) and podocarps (mataī, miro, kahikatea and rimu).

Challenges of weed control persist as in any restoration project. Areas of planted wattles, beneath which is little undergrowth, may need to be removed. Weeds of greatest ecological are banana passionfruit and old man’s beard which have the potential to smother quite big trees. Keeping them at bay requires ongoing vigilance. Male fern, veldt grass, cotoneaster and boneseed are present and also need to be managed in order for the natives to thrive. Well maintained tracks in some areas are a huge advantage in covenant management and also for its enjoyment.


Seb’s Block

Seb’s Block owned by the Parish-Double family at Allandale provides an important linkage between Ohinetahi Reserve above it reaching the Summit road, and a key stream flowing out through Ohinetahi gardens to the sea below. It is close to two other BPCT covenants plus Living Springs. 

In time, it is hoped that the complete waterway will be fenced providing a full summit to sea “ki uta ki tai “protection. The three-hectare east-facing site has magnificent views over Governors Bay and around to Lyttleton. The regenerating kanuka and mixed broadleaf bush is now flourishing in the absence of stock grazing, a sheltered microclimate, good soil moisture levels and by being adjacent to a brilliant mature-bush seed source.

The owners are keen possum and mustelid trappers – vital for protecting vulnerable new soft understory species, bird and insect life. Ohinetahi Reserve provides an important habitat for NZ falcon, tūī, tomtits, kererū and fantail to name a few, which will visit and breed in Seb’s block more as it matures. Despite being partially fire damaged in February’s Port Hills fires, natural recovery is already evident in the swards of emerging poroporo –one of nature’s first successional species. This process has been aided by under-planting an affected kanuka gully with trees generously donated by Trees for Canterbury and planted by the enthusiastic Fox and Associates Surveyors team over several seasons – wonderful support which is much appreciated.


Cashmere Stream

Cashmere Stream is a spring-fed headwater tributary of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River arising in Hendersons Basin and Hoon Hay Valley. It is approximately 4.5km in length and joins the main waterway at Worsleys Reserve beside Worsleys Rd and Cashmere Rd, Cracroft.

The 2,800 ha Cashmere Stream catchment has nearly 50 km of drains and tributaries. Although rising from springs on the Plains, over half its catchment is ephemeral tributaries draining the Port Hills. It’s these hill tributaries that account for the poor water clarity – especially Worsleys Drain, Cashmere Valley Drain, No 3 Drain, and Hoon Hay Valley Stream.

The Cashmere Stream Care Group (CSCG) was initiated in 2006 as part of Environment Canterbury’s Living Streams Programme. CSCG carries out a regular and comprehensive water clarity monitoring programme that has been running since 2010. They also conduct restoration work in the upper reaches and carry out advocacy work on behalf of the stream. For more information see  https://www.ohr.co.nz/river-network/cashmere-stream-care-group.

Before During After


Living Springs

For close to 50 years now, Living Springs has been a magnet for the people of Christchurch and beyond and has attracted thousands of young people and community groups into a unique and breathtaking setting. In recent years we have been on a journey to transform this unique 400-hectare property into a significant environmental sanctuary.

This large-scale project started with the intention of protecting the waterways of the Allandale Valley - from the Crater to the sea (Ki Uta Ki Tai) – from livestock grazing and associated sedimentation issues. It has required to date the installation of over six kilometers of livestock fencing and extensive riparian planting aimed at enhancing water quality and encouraging the development of aquatic stream life. Since the earthquakes more than 20,000 trees, shrubs and native grasses have been planted as well as the retirement of approximately 100 hectares of remnant and regenerating forest from livestock grazing. This has resulted in an explosion of life and growth in the under story as well as extensive passive regeneration in former pasturelands.

Whilst there is still a considerable amount of work to be done with infill planting on the Living Springs property, we are also working with Te Kākahu Kahukura in the establishment of a thriving landscape scale indigenous forest.

At the same time, we are turning our attention to accessways and predator management as a way of developing an environment that supports an abundance of native birds and invertebrates. In partnership with the Cacophony project and Lincoln University we have become a test site for leading edge predator management technology.

Ultimately wellbeing and education are the outcomes we seek, and we have an aspiration of becoming a leading environmental education center for Canterbury children.  On average around 5000 school children per year stay at Living Springs now and through our school enviro camp programs, we have started to educate our youngest generation. There is also much to develop in this area but already through tree planting, stream studies and bush walks primary school children are learning about our natural environment and how to take care of it. They are the guardians of our future.


Living Springs Road 1980s Living Springs Road 2020
Living Springs Stream 2012 Living Springs Stream 2020
Muslim Youth Planting  Enviro School Camp