Native Flora and Forests
The native forest types in the Catlins are temperate rainforests. The forests of the lower and southern Catlins are dominated by large and ancient podocarps – rimu, matai, totara and kahikatea – that emerge over a canopy of broadleaved species such as kamahi and rata. Fern, moss, coprosma, broadleaf, marble leaf, lemonwood and peppertree create a rich understory in these forests.
The beech forests found in higher and northern inland locations are dominated by the tawhai (silver beech). These beech forests of the Catlins are particularly interesting in that they have only one of New Zealand’s five beech species; they are the southern-most beeches in the country; and their pattern of distribution in the northern hills and river valleys is a result of slow spread over the last 16,000 years since the last ice age.