344 Oreti Road, Invercargill, 9899
Ōreti Tōtara Dune Forest
Bordering the Ōreti River, the Ōreti Tōtara Dune Forest reserve lies on the western edge of the suburb of Otatara, about 6km west of Invercargill in Southland. The reserve entrance is on Ōreti Road.
Ōreti Tōtara Dune Forest was purchased in 2020 following a successful fundraising campaign by the Native Forestry Restoration Trust. Even during the COVID-19, they were able to raise over $810,000 towards the $1.5 million purchase price of the property.
Further funds were successfully raised from a small subdivision, creating seven attractive lifestyle lots on the road frontage. The final reserve area is around 73 hectares. The area was registered as a QEII covenant in 2023, which will ensure that it is forever protected.
The reserve contains rare native forest remnants that had been depleted by logging followed by years of grazing. The area is on the east bank of the Ōreti River just upstream from its mouth. It is based on a series of consolidated sand dunes and alluvium.
The most valuable part of the property, from a conservation perspective, is an area of tōtara forest on sand dunes, which is a naturally rare ecosystem that is classified as nationally endangered.
The property also contains localised areas of matai-pokaka-kahikatea forest. Patches of this kind of ecosystem in the Otatara area are considered the best example of the sand dune tōtara and tōtara-matai sequence in New Zealand.
This property had been identified as probably the largest remaining unprotected site of its type in Otatara, and possibly the whole country.
Walking tracks and facilities
There are several walks at the reserve, which vary in difficulty as indicated on this map.
Everyone is welcome to visit to the visit the reserve, however, please note that this is at your own risk as hazards inevitably exist in steep wild terrain. A good reminder, before you explore the outdoors, tell someone your plans, and when to expect your return. Please note, dogs are not permitted.
Visitors are also welcomed to record their observations in the iNaturalist project for the reserve.
More information abut the reserve is available on the Native Forest Restoration Trust website here.