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Tree Information x

Identifier: OR/1479
Tree Type: Single
Registered By: Smillie, M.J.
Registration Category: Notable tree – National interest
General Notes:
It has been known for some time that the tallest tree in New Zealand is to be found in Orokonui Eco-sanctuary. A stand of Eucalyptus regnans, planted in 1870 in the grounds of what became the Orokonui Home for Inebriates in 1902, started self seeding after fires in 1910, resulting a dense forest of competing trees in the lower reaches of the valley of the Orokonui Creek. The tallest tree measured in 1982 was included in Burstall’s Great Trees of New Zealand, as number 99, the Frank Pepers Tree, named after the New Zealand Forest Service officer who had identified and measured the tree at 69.1 m at that time. That tree was tape-dropped in late 2006 at 77.4 m (See OR/0796).

In 2011, a climbing expedition including noted canopy scientists Steve Sillet and Bob Van Pelt found the Frank Pepers Tree to be reduced to 74 m, a victim of a damaged top. However a nearby tree was tape-dropped at 80.2 m tall. A re-measurement by the same group in 2013 determined the height of the new tallest tree to be 81.26 m – at the time the second tallest known planted tree after a 81.5 m blue gum near Magoebaskloof, South Africa.

Due to the tree’s height and location, the true top is only visible from the track about 100 m away, with the base well obscured. This makes laser measurement quite challenging. The tree was subsequently climbed and tape dropped in November 2018 with the height being measured at 82.25 metres.

(M. Smillie, 2018)

1] Burstall and Sale, Great Trees of New Zealand, 1984
2] Otago Daily Times, “New tallest tree titleholder”, 12 March, 2012
3] New Zealand Herald, “NZ's tallest tree growing ever taller”, 23 January 2014
4] Explore the Ancient Trees of Africa - Giant Tree Climbing expedition, accessed 2018

Single Tree Details

Genus: Eucalyptus
Species: regnans
Common names: mountain ash, swamp gum
Height: 82.25m
Height measurement method: Climb & Tape Drop
Height Comments: (none)
Girth: 548 cm
Girth measurement height: 1.4 m
Girth Comments: (none)
Diameter: 174.4 cm
Crown Spread A: 20.00m
Crown Spread B: 15.00m
Avg. Crown Spread: 17.50m
Actual Planting Date: actual date not specified
Approx. Planting Date: circa 1870
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: 154 years
Tree Health Description: In good health
Tree Form Type: Single Trunk
Number of Trunks: 1
Tree Form Comments: Single trunk, first branch at around 19 m.
Champion Tree Score: 500
Local Protection Status: No
Tree Present: Yes
STEM Score: 0


Date Observer Action
16 Nov 2018 Smillie, M.J.


Lat/Long: -45.763170989400166 / 170.5902305493653
Location Name: Orokonui Ecosanctuary
Address: 600 Blueskin Rd
Suburb: Waitati
City/Town: Dunedin
Region: Otago
Location Description: At the lower end of the Robin Valley Track within the eco-sanctuary, around 45 mins walk from the visitor centre through remnant and regenerating native forest. The tree is well signposted only a few metres from the track. A fee is required for entry into the trust-administered eco-sanctuary.
Public Accessibility: Trust Administered Park/Garden
Local Authority: Dunedin City Council


Preview Credit Date
Matt Smillie 08 Jul 2018
Matt Smillie 08 Jul 2018
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