As Wairakei Estate is an intergenerational investment, longevity is engrained in everything we do. Our extensive, and on-going tree planting programme is living testament to our commitment to this land, with tens of thousands of trees planted already, with their legacy for generations to come.
Initially, we trialled quite a few different species and as a result of this research we can now focus on planting what thrives within a series of micro-climates to be found throughout this vast Estate. It is also essential that we select the species on the basis of meeting our environmental needs.
Andean Alder (Alnus acuminate), this medium-large size deciduous native of the Colombian Andes has been selected because it has root nodules that host nitrogen-fixing bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi which assist with nutrient uptake.
Cabbage Tree/ti kouka (Cordyline australis), have added their distinctive silhouette to the landscape and have been planted in groups for best effect. They grow successfully in both wet and dry conditions and are valuable for soil conservation.
Chinese Hybrid Elm (Ulmus parvifolia v. ‘Frontier’), also known as the lacebark elm because of its handsome, smooth bark grey green in colour, interspaced with orange lenticles. This small-medium deciduous tree grows 4 to 6 metres in height and is a tough and hardy landscape tree.
Copper Beech (Fagus Sylvatica purpurea), this spectacular large, deciduous tree is capable of reaching a great height over its lifetime, forming a handsome dome-shape. Its large rich copper-bronze colouring leaves become a deep purple-black shade through summer.
Flax/harakeke (Phormium tenax), fast growing and tough, can withstand wet feet as well as dry soils, a great food source for the native tui.
Hebe parviflora, a tough and hardy flowering native shrub, which works well planted in small groupings.
Italian Alder (Alnus cordata), able to improve soil quality with its ability to fix nitrogen in soil symbiotically this is a valuable addition to the landscape. It is hardy and makes rapid growth even under very unfavourable circumstances. Deciduous, medium-sized, growing up to 25 metres when mature.
Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi), this deciduous conifer is a native of Japan with distinctive clusters of bright green needles that turn yellow in autumn, before falling to the ground in winter. It is medium-sized to large, reaching 20-40 metres, with a trunk up to 1 metre in diameter.
Japanese White Birch (Betula platyphylla v. japonica), is an excellent landscape tree in cool climates, medium-large in size, it is noted for its distinctive white bark, fine spreading branches and slightly pendant branchlets. It is deciduous with its lime green leaves turning to a golden colour during autumn, before they are shed for winter.
Japanese Zelkova (Zelkivia serrata), is a great landscape and shade tree medium-large sized, deciduous, with an appealing vase-shaped form, with a rounded crown. It puts on a showy display for autumn.
Karamu (Coprosma robusta), this hardy small native shrub is used for soil conservation and another great attribute is the abundant red-orange berries, eagerly harvested by native birds.
Kowhai (Sophora micropylla and S. tetraptera), planted for its profusion of yellow flowers in spring and as a rich nectar source for native birds, especially the tui.
London Planetree (Platanus x acerifolia), this is the perfect shade tree in an open landscape, with large green leaves and a beautiful ornamental bark that is cream, green and grey. It is long-lived, hardy and grows to a large size when mature.
Native grasses/purei or makura (Carex secta), these grasses are tough and hardy, they can be relied on to cope with shallow water, boggy margins as well as dry soil conditions and prevent erosion.
Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra), famous for its spectacular reddish brown autumn leaves, this fast-growing native of North America is deciduous and when mature can reach 28 metres in height.
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris), a popular landscape tree due to its tolerance of many soil conditions, pleasing to look at through all seasons, fast-growing and tough. It is suited to riparian planting with its shallow fibrous root system.
Pittosporum are a hardy and valuable native species that are well-established on the Estate. We have extensive plantings of (Pittosporum tenufolium/kohokohu) and (Pittosporum colensoi/rautawhiri).
Poplar – the cultivars ‘Crowsnest’
(P.x euramerican x nigra) and ‘Veronese’
(P.x deltoides x nigra), these have been planted extensively as for visual continuity between all the farms as they have been planted at all the entrances. The majestic beauty of this extensive poplars planting creates a common sense of arrival within the greater landscape.
Red Maple (Acer rubrum), with flowers, petioles, twigs and seeds all red in varying degrees it is appropriately named, however in autumn this becomes most apparent with its display of brilliant deep scarlet foliage. It has a pleasing form and grows well in most conditions making it a popular landscape specimen.
Ribbonwood/manatu (Plagianthus regius), one of New Zealand’s few deciduous native trees, this is well-suited to riparian habitats.
Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea), aptly named the leaves are a stunning display throughout the seasons – glossy green is summer and turning to scarlet over autumn. Not just ornamental this hardy oak tolerates poor soils and wind and still grows into a wonderful specimen tree.
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), This deciduous North American native tree really comes into its own over the autumn months with a stunning leaf display – turning from yellow to burnt orange and finally to red. It is suited to the cooler climate of the central plateau, is fairly fast-growing and can live for up to 400 years.
Thornless Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos inermis ‘Shademaster’), Many horticulturists consider this is one of the best cultivars of Honeylocust. Thornless Honeylocust is a deciduous native North American tree that forms a graceful oval outline with a pendulous habit. Rich yellow autumn colour is attractive and tends to be long lasting.
Toetoe (Austroderia), with its distinctive cream, fluffy flower plumes/kakaho, this iconic, native giant tussock grass can tolerate both damp and dry soil conditions and is valuable in situations where erosion control is required.
Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris), native to south-eastern Europe and western Asia this very attractive large deciduous oak typically grows to 30 metres in height and is fast-growing and hardy.
Turkish Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa v. ‘Barbata’), This vigorous, deciduous tree thrives in riparian plantings. It is very useful for stabilising riverbanks and in the functioning of riverine ecosystems. Like all alders it is also nitrogen-fixing.
Upright Willow (Salix matsudana v. ‘Tangoio’ and ‘Moutere’), planted for their valuable contribution to soil conservation, with their mesh-like fine roots holding potentially erodible soil.
The hand crafted stone wall gateways and entrances that can be admired throughout Wairakei Estate are the work of local Taupo craftsman, Doug Anderson. Doug takes great pride in his work and crafts our distinctive walls using volcanic rhyolite stone, quarried locally from the eastern slopes of Mt. Tauhara.
Visually, we like to give each farm its own unique distinctive look and character. Assigning each farm a signature tree species has successfully created an individual look for each holding, making it easy to distinguish one holding from another. While on the other hand, the magnificent avenues of poplar trees we have planted at the entrance of each farm serves to create an attractive cohesiveness within the greater landscape.
Within Wairakei Estate we have also take great care to establish attractive shelter planting around houses, sheds and effluent ponds. We have also planted future woodlands along roadsides with specimen, tree copse planting. Another relatively recent initiative is our Orchards Programme to grow edible fruit trees on each farm.