The NZNTT is actively seeking updated information for all trees in the register. If you have information about this tree that we don't currently have recorded, or wish to advise of an inaccuracy please use our information submission form to help us build a complete profile of this tree.
It has been more than ten years since we recorded a measurement for this tree. If you are able to provide us with new measurements please fill out the information submission form for this tree.

Tree Information x

Identifier: CR/1009
Tree Type: Single
Registered By: Smillie, M.J.
Registration Category: Notable tree – National interest
General Notes:

Peel Forest Park Scenic Reserve holds many important remnants of the podocarp forest that once covered a great deal of mid-Canterbury. The 783 hectares of forest, including Mills Bush, feature numerous large (but not particularly tall) kahikatea, matai and, most notably, totara.

'Mills Totara', locally known as 'Big Tree', is probably the most photogenic of the many large totara in the reserve. It was featured as Tree 92 in the 1984 Burstall and Sale "Great Trees of New Zealand" book. Although labeled the "Big Tree", and at the end of the "Big Tree Walk", a larger, but shorter, totara resides in another part of Peel Forest Park, see record CR/1010 (Smillie, M. 2012).

'The preservation of the area, and the origins of what was to become Peel Forest Park by act of Parliament in 1926, was due to the foresight of a British visitor to New Zealand in 1881. Arthur Mills, M.P. for Exeter, who was accompanied by his family, bought the 16 ha. of forest that borders the road and south of the stone bridge to save the fine timber trees there from the logging which was carving into the forest. On his example, further lands were set aside as a scenic reserve; and although he did not return to New Zealand, his sons sold the 16 ha. after his death as much below value to the government for preservation. Since then further areas have been added to the park, which has a total of 773 ha.' (Burstall & Sale 1984).
Ref: 'Great Trees of New Zealand' Burstall, S.W. and Sale, E.V. 1984, page 216.

Single Tree Details

Genus: Podocarpus
Species: totara
Common names: tōtara,
Given Name: Mills Totara
Height: 26.00m
Height measurement method: Laser Nikon Forestry 550
Height Comments: (none)
Girth: 865 cm
Girth measurement height: 1.4 m
Girth Comments: (none)
Diameter: 275.3 cm
Crown Spread A: 18.00m
Crown Spread B: 17.50m
Avg. Crown Spread: 17.75m
Actual Planting Date: actual date not specified
Approx. Planting Date:
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: not known years
Tree Health Description: Some bare and lost branches, but plenty of healthy foliage (2012).
Tree Form Type: Single Trunk
Number of Trunks: 1
Tree Form Comments: First branches come off at 8 m.
Champion Tree Score: 440
Local Protection Status: Yes
Tree Present: Yes
STEM Score: 0


Date Observer Action
20 Jul 2012 Smillie, M.J.
01 Jan 1984 Burstall, S.W. & E.V. Sale.
27 Jul 1970 Burstall, S.W.


Lat/Long: -43.89435151161403 / 171.25754356384277
Location Name: Mills Bush
Address: Rangitata Gorge Road
City/Town: Mt Peel
Region: Canterbury
Location Description: At the end of the "Big Tree Walk". The short track, with an uphill section, loops from the road to the Te Wanahu Flat campsite (30 mins return).
Public Accessibility: Department of Conservation
Local Authority: Timaru District Council


Preview Credit Date
Matt Smillie 20 Jul 2012
Matt Smillie 20 Jul 2012
Copyright © New Zealand Notable Trees Trust 2009. The NZNTT register is provided and supported by Turboweb.