About Hanmer Forest

Early History:

Hanmer Forest was established in 1901 by the Government on former Thermal Reserve land near Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury. Originally only covering 250 hectares, Hanmer Forest now extends to encompass over 5150 hectares.

The range of exotic species selected throughout its past documents the history of this forest. At first, international flora were introduced for their hardy nature with many hailing from alpine environments. Trees were selected from the montane areas of central Europe, including black pines, Norway spruce and deciduous larch, with alders in wet areas, and oaks and silver birches planted as amenity species. Today, radiata pine and Douglas fir are replanted in the wider forest, similar to many other plantations throughout
New Zealand.

The oldest area of the forest is protected under a Crown covenant and has trees dating back as early as 1903-1904. This protected part of the forest has become a mixed age, near-natural forest, with many woody species having invaded from the township’s gardens and the neighbouring indigenous forest remnants. This ever-evolving nature of the Hanmer Forest draws considerable scientific interest to the area and is an important component of the tourist attractions of Hanmer Springs. The old forest is criss-crossed with many well-maintained tracks, ranging from shorter trails suitable for the whole family to longer walks – including to the summit of Mt Isobel for panoramic views.

 

Management of the Forest:

Originally the wider Forest Park of Hanmer Forest had multiple management objectives, with the intention that the oldest area be maintained as a recreational reserve. However with the introduction of forestry reforms in the 1980’s, the status of the Forest Park was revoked resulting in the plantation being managed by state-owned enterprise. Further changes followed in the year 2000 when the Crown’s forestry-plantation lands in North Canterbury were sold to Ngai Tahu. Ngai Tahu gave the right to harvest the trees to Matariki Forests, under a leasehold agreement. To ensure that the interests of both Matariki Forests and the forest were maintained, the Trust worked closely with Matariki Forests to create a 5 year management plan. This has assured the maintenance of the even-aged, mixed species nature of the woodland.

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