Trees native to Johnsonville

A List!

If you have ever wondered what species were here before our version of Jebidiah Springfield obliterated them all in the late 1840s, here it is!

Mature rimu trees in Karapoti Gorge

Mature rimu trees in Karapoti Gorge

Not an exhaustive list, but for 99.99% of us, as close as you will ever need. Please re-plant your patch of suburban paradise with these plants – and please use eco sourced varieties, to maintain the strength of wellingtons adapted varieties!

This is where you can learn how to use native plants to help our native ecosystems survive and flourish, while beautifying your garden or rural property. For gardeners and those wanting to restore the indigenous environment, this native plant guide offers practical advice on selecting plants which are ecologically appropriate for your area.

The (much more detailed guide, covering all of Wellington) is now available in book form ($9.95) from bookstores or garden centres, or from Greater Wellington offices across the region. Download the Wellington Regional Native Plant Guide

All the plants below are recommended as appropriate for the Johnsonville (and raroa & Broadmeadows) regions specifically. This is because these species were originally grew naturally in this part of the Wellington region.

On the other hand pohutukawa, Metrosideros excelsa, is an example of a tree that is not appropriate for Wellington because its natural, geographic range extends only as far south as the volcanic plateau. For that reason you will not find pohutukawa recommended in this guide. Instead we recommend its close relative northern rata, Metrosideros robusta, which once dominated the ridges of Johnsonville but is now extinct there (until we reverse that!!).

Why use native plants?

Plant species that are native to an area have particular ecosystem advantages:

  • They are genetically adapted to local conditions and soils and are therefore likely to perform better. They blend ecologically and aesthetically with the local, natural, landscape. The “Wellington look”.
  • Their seeds help maintain the integrity of the local gene pool and the sustainability of local ecosystems.
  • They are more likely to be compatible with local invertebrate populations.


More and more people are taking care to use only plants which are eco-sourced. This means that they are grown from seed from local, wild populations. For example Coprosma repens, the common taupata species that grows naturally around the Wellington coastline, is the same species as the Auckland taupata. However, it is subtly different because it has evolved to withstand Wellington conditions. We suggest that you check with your local nursery whether the plants that you are buying are locally sourced.

Note: Only people who have a permit holders from WCC allowed to collect seed from native plants on public land within Wellington City. Email . No native plants should be removed from the wild.

Using this guide will help you:

  • Feel confident about using native species.
  • Enjoy contributing to fostering the region’s indigenous ecological diversity.
  • Choose native plants suited to the ecological conditions in your area.
  • Select native plants that encourage native birds to visit your property.
  • Appreciate the role your garden plays in the local ecology.

The following provides details of plants appropriate for JOHNSONVILLE, and for BROADMEADOWS & RAROA


These plants are also recommended for Newlands, Paparangi, Churton Park, Johnsonville, Belmont, Tawa,

Environmental factors: Though windy, year-round rainfall enables uninhibited plant growth. The clay-rich soils are generally fertile and moisture retentive. There can be frosts in the valley floors and basins.

Did you know? Towering northern rata- trees used to clothe the region’s hillsides, bursting into scarlet flower at Christmas. They are now rare in the Wellington region. Pohutukawa and Rata belong to the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) which is made up of about 3,000 different tropical and warm temperate trees, shrubs and vines. Pohutukawa is NOT native to the wellington region, and its ability to cross-breed with Rata poses a serious threat to re-establishment of genuine “eco-sourced” local rata forests.

Past landscape: Close to Cook Strait, this was a forested landscape in complex hilly terrain with turbulent winds resulting in lots of microclimates. On higher slopes rata-rimu forest flourished. The five Wellington species of podocarp dominated the cooler basins and valleys.

Broadmeadows, Raroa,

Part of the “Nikau Belt”, which includes Wilton, Wadestown, Crofton Downs, Ngaio, Khandallah, Broadmeadows, Raroa, Korokoro, Maungaraki, Greenacres, Elsdon, Nı¯kau Valley, Hemi Matenga and Kaitawa

Environmental factors: A temperate climate with year-round soil moisture and high humidity. Mostly frost-free and lacking in extreme conditions.

Past landscape: Once dominated by Tawa, now dominated by kohekohe, with nikau reflecting the mild conditions.

List of Plants recommended for our suburbs: 


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