Botanist and Humboldt State University lecturer Marie
Antoine climbs New Zealand's tallest tree in Orokonui
Ecosanctuary. Photo supplied.
New Zealand's most imposing resident is branching out.
The Australian mountain ash at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, which
is recognised as the tallest tree in New Zealand, has grown
half a metre.
The Eucalpytus regnans was recently re-measured at
81.26m by United States researchers, using survey lasers and
the sine method. It was last measured at 80.5m in 2012. The
researchers also found the tree had a 43.3cu m main trunk and
boasted 88 branches.
It is the only tree in New Zealand above 80m and it could yet
grow up to 120m and live for another 100 years.
''We are delighted to be protecting New Zealand's tallest
tree, as well as several other trees in the same
plantation,'' ecosanctuary general manager Chris Baillie said
''You could say that this tree is a New Zealand native.
Before the ice ages, about 15 million years ago, eucalypts
did grow in the inland Otago region. Fossil eucalypt leaves
have also been found in Dunedin's Frasers Gully.''
The original stand of gums in Orokonui Valley was probably
planted as a boundary line, around 1870, Ms Baillie said.
The Australian mountain ash is the second-tallest species in
the world, behind the Californian redwood Sequoia
sempervirens, and is native to Tasmania and Victoria.
New Zealand's tallest native tree species is the kahikatea,
or white pine, which reaches just 60m.
The tree was first measured in 1968, at 58.8m. It was
re-measured at 69.1m in 1982 by New Zealand Forest Service
research technician Frank Pepers for the book Great Trees
of New Zealand.
It has since been known as the ''Frank Pepers Tree''.
Otago Polytechnic arborist Mark Roberts climbed the tree in
2004 and measured it at 77m.
The tree is located in a grove of eucalypts, about an hour's
walk from the visitor centre, in the lower, northern end of