Enquiries:         iwitahi@orchidcouncil.org.nz

Iwitahi Heritage Protection Area

Native orchid reserve on State Highway 5, Napier-Taupo Highway

Calochilus robertsonii is one of the important finds at Iwitahi.

Native Orchids were first reported by Ken Scott in 1985, and a field trip later in that year by the Taupo Orchid Society resulted in the finding of an abundance and variety of orchids under Pinus nigra. Two outstanding finds were Chiloglottis valida and Calochilus robertsonii.

In August 1987 after a meeting with Timberlands, plans were put into place to establish Heritage Protection Area (HPA) reserve for native orchids in the area. The initial HPA of 5.9 hectares was later transferred to the existing area with the right to transfer plants to the new area; this continued for the next 5 years.

Orchid Conservation

Conservation of our heritage is everybody’s responsibility.

The Iwitahi Heritage Protection Area is of national and international importance.  It is unique in that it is currently the only area (14.3 hectares) in New Zealand specifically dedicated to protecting New Zealand native orchids.  Presently there are about 28 species of orchids located in the Pinus nigra forest (part of the original planting of the mighty Kaingaroa Forest).

The Iwitahi Management Committee as conservation practitioners have a goal of preserving and managing native orchid habitat, monitoring orchid populations and facilitating the re-introduction of terrestrial native orchids into a protected ecosystem.

Protecting New Zealand Native Orchids

Nearly 60% of New Zealand orchids can be considered threatened or endangered.

New Zealand is home to 150 different species of orchids of which 130 species are endemic.  Most of the orchids are terrestrial (live in the ground), only half a dozen of these orchids are epiphytic (live in trees).

Adenochilus gracilis


Goals of the programme include:

Utilising regional support to develop orchid conservation
Understanding the dynamic relationship between orchids and their habitat
Implementing management protection that promotes the sustainability of native orchids
Promoting public awareness of New Zealand’s unique orchid flora
Protecting and encouraging the protection of irreplaceable native orchid habitat throughout New Zealand


Thelymitra (Sun Orchid)

Thelymitra nervosa

There are about 5 species of Thelymitra found in the reserve or on the fringes.  They flower on warm sunny days in December / January.  Thelymitra nervosa is found in many shades of blue and also pink and white.