News & Events

01 December 2015
Prior to the official opening of our new Purple Peak Curry Reserve in February next year, members of the public had an opportunity to join esteemed Banks Peninsula botanist Hugh Wilson over the weekend on a ‘Sneak Preview’ walk as part of the Banks Peninsula Walking Festival.
The Festival offers guided walks all over the peninsula in November each year. Forty people booked for the walk and everyone agreed that Hugh and his team from neighbouring Hinewai Reserve had already done a fantastic job of managing the new reserve including establishing a new track. They were also blown away by this fabulous reserve coming right down toward Akaroa. 
Purple Peak Curry Reserve, 190ha high above Akaroa, was recently purchased by the Native Forest Restoration Trust, the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust and Christchurch City Council. The reserve will be protected by QEII open space and City Council covenants. 
Purple Peak Curry Reserve, which borders Hinewai Reserve to the east, laps over the Purple Peak ridge down into Grehan Valley protecting much of Akaroa’s water catchment, and has wonderful views.
There is already a good amount of natural regeneration in the gullies with a wonderful array of species. Some original trees have even escaped logging; in particular there are one or two large totara, matai, and kahikatea, which are reputedly as big as any on Banks Peninsula! There is also a small skyline beech forest which is unusual for the area. 
With the removal of stock from the recently farmed areas, we expect regrowth to be rapid with ngaio, narrow-leaved lacebark, ribbonwood and five-finger establishing quickly and so encouraging natural regeneration into a fully forested reserve. 
The reserve will be managed by the Maurice White Native Forest Trust, led by Hinewai manager, Hugh Wilson.
As a charitable group, the Trust relies heavily on the help and goodwill of the public. It is only because of people like you that we are able to continue restoring and protecting New Zealand's natural heritage.
If you wish to help us make a difference, donations of $5 or more can be claimed as a tax deduction. To make a donation we have several payment methods available and donors receive our newsletter "Canopy" available by email or post.
Photos kindly provided by Suky Thompson, Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust
02 October 2015
We’re very pleased to announce that our Puhoi Far North Reserve has been extended by a further 38 hectares, taking the reserve to 293 hectares.

Just off the Honeymoon Valley Road near Peria, the new block adjoins the reserve on the south western side and is a mixture of manuka dominant regenerating shrubland, mature cut over broadleaf forest, pine and pasture. The forested gully has a series of attractive waterfalls and pools.
The purchase secures the protection of the upper catchment of the main reserve stream and provides better access for pest control. A wider community led pest control programme will begin soon on the new block and adjoining properties, extending the Trust’s existing kiwi protection trapping area. Recent kiwi call counts in the area show kiwi numbers falling in the Valley so hopefully the additional effort and resources can reverse this trend!
Please visit our Puhoi Far North web page for further information about the reserve.
11 September 2015
We're delighted to announce the purchase of our second South Island reserve! The Trust’s latest acquisition, situated above Akaroa at the top of the Grehan Valley on Banks Peninsula, takes the Trust’s total number of reserves to 29 covering well over 6,500 hectares.
The purchase of the new 192ha Purple Peak Curry Reserve, formerly farmed by the Curry family, was made possible through a three-way funding partnership between the Native Forest Restoration Trust (NFRT), Christchurch City Council and the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust. NFRT contributed $320,000 towards the purchase with the City Council also contributing $320,000 and the Rod Donald Trust $160,000.
The reserve will be managed by the Maurice White Native Forest Trust (MWNFT) under the watchful eye of Hinewai Reserve manager Hugh Wilson. MWNFT own and manage neighbouring Hinewai Reserve which borders the new reserve to the east.
As with all our reserves we have already taken steps to retire the land from farming. The reserve will be actively encouraged to naturally regenerate into a native forest reserve, protected by QEII open space and City Council covenants. Thanks to the ongoing assistance of the Rod Donald Trust and the Maurice White Native Forest Trust there will be excellent public access. The resulting reserve will not only be a recreational asset but it will also offer significant protection to Akaroa town’s water supply.
None of our work would be possible if it weren't for the ongoing support we receive from like-minded organisations, groups and individuals. In short our supporters are second to none and we thank you for helping us to secure yet another reserve!
The new Purple Peak Curry Reserve will officially open early in 2016.
28 May 2015
Edith Symes, Raglan Chronicle
Gumboots, raincoats and woolly hats were the order of the day as 200-odd people sloshed across a muddy field alongside Old Mountain Road and into a marquee last Saturday to celebrate the opening of the Ed Hillary Hope Reserve, a large tract of forest and farmland flanking the Raglan deviation.
Volunteers from KCC
So persistent was the rain that parking in the paddock was restricted to four-wheel-drive vehicles, and all other guests were directed by Raglan’s Maori wardens to leave their cars back at Waitetuna School from where they were ferried by minibus to and from the lunchtime event.
Neither rain nor the biting cold however appeared to dampen the spirits of the tentful of keen conservationists, least of all Peter and Sarah Hillary who were “delighted” to be there as guests of honour to represent their famous father.
Guests of Honour, Peter and Sarah Hillary
Sir Ed was the long-serving first patron of New Zealand Native Forest Restoration Trust (NFRT), which now owns and manages the 460-odd hectare reserve that’s just 24 kilometres east of Raglan.
The wet weather was “perfect for growing and regenerating trees”, Peter Hillary told an audience mostly comprising enthusiasts and officials from the trust, Waikato Regional Council and family of the late Waikato district councillor Michael Hope, who first helped protect the bush and farmed the land for 70 years.
Peter Hillary addressing the audience
The keen mountaineer was not long back from Nepal where, he said, he helped in recovery work following the recent earthquake devastation through the Himalayan Trust founded by his late father in the 1960s.
Peter endorsed the work of the Native Forest Restoration Trust in reversing New Zealand’s “environment of degradation”, and conserving our heritage generally. He spoke of fostering pride in places like the Ed Hillary Hope Reserve and “bringing our young people here” to learn from the environment – a fitting sentiment given a large group of Hillary scholars from Waikato University were also at the gathering.
“If it (the reserve) becomes part of who we are then it has a future,” he insisted
Founding NFRT trustee Geoff Davidson said the trust had now heaved a collective sigh of satisfaction at the opening of the reserve and had proudly – in the words of Sir Ed – “knocked the bastard off!”  
The reserve has 180 hectares of established forest and 280 hectares of farmland that the trust says is “well suited” for restoration. Its proximity to both Raglan and Hamilton – flanking both sides of the deviation on SH23 and adjoining the Four Brothers Scenic Reserve – means the area will potentially have “great public access and high recreation value”, trust manager Sandy Crichton told the Chronicle before Saturday’s function.
It’s also the largest protected native bush block within 20 kilometres of Hamilton, and will be a major link in the regional council’s Halo project which aims to bring native birds such as tui and bellbirds back into Hamilton city where they once flourished.
The regional council contributed $500,000 to the purchase price of $1.36 million.
A barbecue of venison sausages and billy tea was provided for guests before they headed to the warm sanctuary of home.
05 May 2015
Peter and Sarah Hillary will be guests of honour at the opening of a new forest reserve near Raglan that bears their famous father’s name, as well as that of a local farming family which has helped protect the area.
Sir Edmund Hillary was the long-serving first patron of the Native Forest Restoration Trust which will own and manage the 460 hectare Ed Hillary Hope Reserve, while the Hope family has helped protect the bush and farmed the land for more than 70 years.
The opening will be at 11.30am on Saturday 23 May at 732 Old Mountain Rd, Waitetuna, Raglan. Please follow this link to the official invite which provides more information on the proposed programme, speakers and location of the event.
Opening venue
The new reserve contains 180 hectares of established forest and more than 280 hectares of farm land well suited for restoration. It adjoins the Four Brothers Scenic Reserve.
The project will contribute significantly to the network of protected native forest areas within 20 kilometres of Hamilton. It will also be part of Waikato Regional Council’s Halo Project, which involves active pest animal control at selected sites near Hamilton to support birdlife such as tui and kereru.
The Trust paid approximately $860,000 towards the cost of the land, while the Regional Council contributed $500,000. The area will be protected in perpetuity by a Queen Elizabeth II covenant.
The Council’s natural heritage team leader Alan Saunders said establishing the Ed Hillary Hope Reserve was an exciting development for the Waikato when it came to protecting stands of native bush and promoting flourishing birdlife.
“The region’s remaining stands of native forest are fragmented and often riddled with pest animals and weeds,” Mr Saunders said.
“The creation of this major new reserve is just magic when it comes to us protecting what’s there now and restoring things for the future.”
The Council’s chairperson Paula Southgate – a Hamilton Councillor who has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Halo scheme – said the reserve opening was a very positive step.
“Having this new reserve close to Hamilton will significantly expand natural areas near the city and also support the expansion of native birdlife both in and near the city,” said Ms Southgate, who will speak at the opening.
The Native Forest Restoration Trust’s manager Sandy Crichton said the proximity of the reserve to Raglan and Hamilton makes the site potentially very special and there will be lots of community involvement in its operation.
“We would like to see the Ed Hillary Hope Reserve become a flagship reserve for the Trust, a reserve with great public access and high recreation value."
“Old logging roads will be developed for walking tracks, and the restoration of pastureland will involve local volunteers. We plan to connect the Karamu Walkway through the new reserve to create a new loop track, a track that we would like to use to tell the story of restoration on the new reserve.”
Those planning to attend the event are asked to RSVP by 21 May by emailing
09 April 2015
A new reserve between Hamilton and Raglan will result in the largest area of native bush within 20km of Hamilton.
Opening in May 2015, the Ed Hillary Hope Reserve is a large property with over 200ha of established forest and over 250ha of farmland well suited for restoration.
Ed Hillary Hope Reserve
The area will be restored by the Native Forest Restoration Trust one of the country's leading non-government organisations involved in natural habitat protection and restoration.
“Our ultimate aim is to restore as much as possible of the property to native bush.” Trust Manager Sandy Crichton said.
Old logging tracks will be developed into walking tracks. Manuka regeneration will be used for honey production, and with some of the area eligible for carbon credits, the income can be used to help fund restoration, pest management, and future land purchase.
“We plan to connect the Karamu Walkway through the new reserve to create a loop track, a track that we would like to tell the story of restoration.” Crichton said.
Named after Sir Edmund Hillary and the Hope family, owners of property in the area for almost 80 years, the reserve will be a major link in the Hamilton City’s Halo Project which aims to bring native birds, such as tui and bellbirds, back into Hamilton City.
With only one month before the reserve opens, representatives from the Native Forest Restoration Trust will be attending the Waikato Show’s EnviroExpo so that members of the community have an opportunity to come along and learn about the Trust’s plans and find out how to get involved.
“The proximity of the reserve to Raglan and Hamilton makes the site potentially very special, and there will be lots of community involvement. The Waikato Show is a wonderful opportunity not only to promote the work of the Trust, but also to promote the new reserve and its opening on the 23rd May.” Crichton said.
The Ed Hillary Hope Reserve will bring the Native Forest Restoration Trust’s total number of reserves to 28.
“We would like to see the Ed Hillary Hope Reserve become a flagship reserve for the Trust, a reserve with great public access and high recreation value.”
The reserve is located next to the Four Brothers Reserve (and the Karamu Walkway), midway between Hamilton and Raglan on SH23.
Show opens tomorrow
Waikato Show, Claudelands Events Centre April 10-12
Hours: Friday, Saturday & Sunday 10am-5pm
Friday Carnival Night: 5-10pm
General admission: $5, children under 5 free
Parking: through Gate 4 off Brooklyn Rd
For more information visit:
04 February 2015
Eye on Nature 2015Following the success of Eye on Nature 2014, the Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust will again host the event with an impressive group of 28 environmentally active partners and sponsors including the Native Forest Restoration Trust at the Auckland Botanic Gardens.
The event vision in 2015 is to:
“Plant a seed and grow a young mind to engage positively in ongoing environmental activities”.
Up to 1500 year 5 and 6 students will attend the schools fun and interactive educational activity days on Tuesday 24 March, Wednesday 25 March and Thursday 26 March 2015. Students travel to the event courtesy of buses arranged by the Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust. As well as enjoying the arts and crafts, and interactive learning and educator-led games and activities, students will spend time in the Totara forest.
This will again be followed by a FREE community day for families and the general public which NFRT will again be a part of on Saturday 28 March 2015. A range of entertainment, hands-on arts and crafts, games, maze activities, bush walks, cave exploration, archaeologists sand pit dig, cooking demonstrations and door prizes are all part of the fun.
We look forward to supporting this year's event as it continues to grow from strength to strength!
07 November 2014
Arthur pictured here with his wife and fellow Patron Pat CowanKua hinga te totara i te wao nui a Tane
The totara has fallen in the forest of Tane
The funeral of our beloved Patron and founding Trustee Arthur Cowan took place on Wednesday 5th November at St Brides Anglican Church, Otorohanga. Well over 300 people attended to pay their respects and celebrate the life of someone described in 1980 as being one of the great men of conservation in New Zealand.
Arthur was a founding member of the Native Forest Restoration Trust which was formed in 1980 following a campaign against the felling of giant totara in Pureora Forest. A campaign which saw off the bulldozers and led directly to an end of logging in Crown-owned native forests.
In the 1970's, he helped to save kiwi on land being developed in Northland, driving from Otorohanga every Friday night to trap birds and release them in safe areas with a group of others. From the Arthur Cowan Reserve secured with his own funds, to the 30+ separate other properties secured by the Trust, they all stand as a lasting monument to the work of Arthur and others dedicated to conservation in New Zealand.
In 1980 he received a citation from the Nature Conservation Council for his efforts to conserve an area of bush of national importance. That same year he was awarded first prize in the individual section for flora and fauna conservation in the Waikato Savings Bank awards. In 1988 he was awarded the Loder Cup, given to individuals and groups who have made significant contributions to plant conservation work in New Zealand. His MBE was awarded for services to conservation.
Around his farm, to nearby properties if there was a piece of arable land that would benefit from flax plants or other seedlings, Arthur would be there with a band of helpers, to dig the holes and plant. Much of his work can be seen around the Otorohanga / Waitomo area, wherever you see a patch of flax and natives as you come into town, you can be pretty sure that Arthur had a hand in either planting, providing or securing where it was to be placed.
The last reserve secured by Arthur alongside Trustees was the 466 hectare Ed Hillary Hope Reserve. A process that took over 8-years was finally completed on the 28th of October 2014. The new Ed Hillary Hope Reserve has approximately 180ha of established forest and over 280ha of farmland well suited for restoration. It lies on the Hamilton–Raglan Road, adjoining the Four Brothers Scenic Reserve. The project will result in the largest area of native bush within 20km of Hamilton and will be a major link in the city’s Halo Project.
Arthur greeted the wonderful news from the Ed Hillary Hope Reserve with a broad smile and a big thumbs up! We like to think that Arthur was waiting for the new Ed Hillary Hope Reserve to be secured before leaving us. He passed away peacefully on Sunday, 2nd November 2014, aged 98 years.
22 October 2014
Work continues on our William Upton Hewett Memorial Reserve to remark tracks, clear boardwalks and put up new signage. All going well we expect some tracks to reopen for Labour Weekend. A map of tracks expected to be open can be found below.
The William Upton Hewett Memorial Reserve is north-west of Whangarei, between Pipiwai and Titoki. The Papakuri Scenic Reserve is nearby to the north. The 242ha block is mostly regenerating shrubland with a large kahikatea swamp along the eastern stream boundary. The reserve was partly destroyed by fire at the beginning of 2014.
Updates including images from the reserve can also be found on our Facebook Page or on our new LinkedIn Page.
07 October 2014
We're very pleased to announce that NFRT won the Heritage and Environment category at the fifteenth annual Trustpower Wairoa Community Awards last night.
A big thanks to Trustpower Community for recognising the hard work of Honorary Ranger Ian Pickering in bringing community together at our Opoutama Wetland Reserve. Well done Ian!
Photographs from the event can be viewed on our Facebook Page.
Honorary Ranger Ian Pickering Receives Award