Mission underway to grow kauri forest in Otago

Kauri could soon find a new home in the South Island of New Zealand.

The native trees are usually found in the upper North Island but one man is on a mission to grow a forest in Otago.

In the hills around Taieri Beach, south of Dunedin, a transformation is slowly taking shape.

Cardboard plant guards protect 7500 nursery trees which will eventually provide a forest home to plant kauri.

"Kauri aren't designed for living in a field or a grass paddock, they're designed for living in a forest so we're trying to mimic or replicate those conditions," Habitat Restorations Aotearoa founder Glen Riley said.

Kauri Trees Limited's Peter Parsons purchased a block of farmland last year.

"It was running sheep at the time and I didn't want to run sheep because that requires a lot of maintenance so trees became the next logical option," he said.

Even with the expert advice he's received, it's a tall task. Native kauri normally call the north of the North Island home.

"With the right preparation, kauri is feasible at 46 degrees south," Parsons said.

That preparation starts here with the seedlings at Ribbonwood Nurseries.

"It's just a wee bit hard to count them all at the moment. There's hopefully around 20,000 there anyway at least," Ribbonwood Nurseries owner Philip Dunn said.

They're in the germination phase before they can planted in Taieri.

"When you're putting them in the ground I anticipate them being 400 high, 400 to 500 high," Dunn said.

More nursery trees will be planted in May and August next year.

"This is a passion project for me now, I'm funding it myself," Parsons said.

Before the first kauri goes into the ground in 2025.