New Zealand Honey Traders are proud to be the exclusive DOC beekeeping partner for Omahuta Forest in the Hokianga. At more than 21,000 ha, the stunning Omahuta-Puketi forest area lies in the middle of the Hokianga and the Bay of Islands. It's the second largest, but most intact forested habitat in the Eastern Northland Ecological Region. DOC manages 16,210.7 ha, with 250.2 ha under Conservation Covenant and 427.6 ha under covenant with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.
Derrick's Māori tribe Ngāpuhi, first arrived in New Zealand in the 14th century and made landfall just south of the Bay of Islands. The great chief Puhi slowly extended the tribe towards the west coast, eventually colonising both sides of the Hokianga. Prior to that Kupe, the legendary Polynesian navigator and explorer, settled in the Hokianga in approximately 925 AD, after his journey of discovery from Hawaiiki. Today the Hokianga is considered to be one of the oldest settlements for Māori, and is still heartland for the Ngāpuhi people.
Derrick and his family's relationship with Omahuta Forest spans generations. From forestry, to wild food foraging, hunting, and most recently, possum eradication for the Department of Conservation, his family have been using the Forest's abundant food and plant-based medicines since the early days of Māori habitation. His deeply rooted love and respect for this pristine natural environment forms the basis of his approach to beekeeping and the company's sustainable business practices.
With over 360 indigenous species of plants, this forest is one of the most diverse in New Zealand. It supports nine threatened fauna species and several others which are endemic, or regionally significant. Remnants of the mature kauri forest are especially important with some impressive examples easily viewed via the popular Omahuta Forest Kauri Sanctuary Walk. The Sanctuary is home to one particularly spectacular Kauri; 'Ngāpuhi', ranked one of the top 20 kauri trees in New Zealand! Kauri have been protected in the 6-hectare sanctuary ever since logging was eventually stopped in 1951.
Taraire covers large areas, with many Puriri, towai, totara and kahikatea. Majestic Northern rata (pictured) tower high above the canopy consisting of rewarewa, rimu, white, pink and orange climbing rata, tanekaha, pukatea, hinau, mamaku tree fern, tawa, and nikau, alongside large stands of Mānuka and Kānuka tea tree. This plethora of nectar sources produces a smooth, sweet delicate honey unique to the area.
Bird species include North Island brown kiwi, kōkako, NZ pigeon (Kereru), pied tit, banded rail, and fernbird. The forests are also home to short- and long-tailed bats, Pacific gecko, and Northland green gecko. You can also find Northland tusked weta, Kauri snail, as well as native fish, freshwater crayfish and tuna (eels) that are known to reside in the many crystal-clear waterways.
For those wishing to visit the forest, vehicle access is available via Omahuta Road off State Highway 1 just south of the Mangamuka township.
Te Araroa (New Zealand's Trail) runs through the forest and although challenging, is popular amongst local and international hikers. If you're passing through and see us, give us a wave or say hello.