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We know where the wildings are but where did they spread from….

Date: 3rd May 2024

Nick Ledgard one of our most experienced practitioners and scientists shares his knowledge about where wilding sources came from around New Zealand. He worked as a forester and scientist for over 40 years, and even now he is retired he still tirelessly advocates in our space. One area that he has exceptional knowledge in relates to the sources of wilding conifer spread throughout New Zealand.

The majority of the well-known spread situations were sourced from legacy plantings i.e. ‘inherited from a predecessor’. Nick’s investigations have concluded that roughly a third of major wilding invasions came from erosion plantings, a third from commercial plantations and a third from private woodlots / amenity plantings. 

Wildings on the Black Birch Ridge in the Kaweka Ranges – North Island. Source https://tramper.nz/8093/wilding-pines-in-the-eastern-kawekas/#google_vignette

The localities with notable spread from erosion control plantings are: The Kawekas, the N. Ruahines, Wye/Waihopai, Branch/Leatham, Mt Fyffe (behind Kaikoura), Craigieburns/upper Waimakariri, Mt Hutt, Mid Dome and N. Takitimus (Cheviot faces).  There are other smaller sites, such as Turton Saddle (upper Rakaia) and near L. Wakatipu – Little Muddy Creek, in the Von River and head of Shotover.

The other ‘non-erosion’ locations are as follows: 

Tarawera spread came from Northern Kaingaroa forests; the Taupo/Napier Road (upper Rangitaiki) from S. Kaingaroa forest and private farm plantings.

  • the Central Plateau from Karioi state forest and army (Waiouru) plantings (mainly shelterbelts);
  • the Sounds from private bach plantings and small plantations (mainly Shakespeare Point);
  • Abel Tasman NP from small private plantations;
  • Mt Richmond Park from commercial plantations;
  • Molesworth/Tarndale from Lands and Survey farm woodlots and shelterbelts.
  • Molesworth/Clarence mainly from Hanmer forest and some from St James homestead shelterbelts;
  • Amuri Range from Hanmer forest.


  • Mt Barker from a farm shelterbelt on L. Coleridge station;

  • Upper Rangitata mainly from private D-fir plantation at Forest Creek;
  • Mackenzie mainly from farm plantings and MOW lakeside amenity plantings.
  • L. Ohau area from farm woodlots/private plantings.
  • Central Otago from farm plantings,
    Naseby state and private commercial forests (mainly D-fir);
  • L. Wakatipu area from ‘protection’ sowings/plantings (above Q’town – mainly D-fir), Closeburn/L. Moke – source of most spread over on Cecil Peak from private plantings of Corsican and Scots pine
  • Up Skippers canyon from shelter plantings/woodlots
  • Coronet Peak from shelter planted for ski-field hut and Coronet forest from a D. fir production forest and amenity plantings around Arrowtown
  • Roaring Meg from power station/penstock protection plantings
  • Arthurs Point from private D-fir/larch plantings
  • Upper Mataura from private commercial D-fir forests
  • Southern Takitimu mountains from private commercial forests (mostly D-fir). 


Map developed by Lauren Prebble from Nick Ledgard’s information.

But wait there is more, Needless to say, there are many other smaller hotspots, mainly originating from private plantings.  How does Nick know the above – because he has visited virtually all of them, and written history/management reports on the majority.  Those written between 1988 and 2003 (18 of them) are listed in the paper he presented (‘Wilding conifers – NZ history and research background’) in the August 2003 proceedings of the Ch/Ch workshop ‘Managing wilding conifers in NZ: present and future’.  That paper is on the first 24 pages below:

A complete list of Nick’s written reports on this subject (32 in all) from 1988 to 2016 is below.  As most were paid for by clients, their permission would be needed for access:

Wilding pines – control by a community – Able Tasman National Park https://www.abeltasman.com/abel-tasman-magazine/wilding-pine-removal-a-community-effort/

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