Kererū is a garden journey of three parts.
Part one is a regenerating remnant of original forest that once stretched all the way south to Wairarapa Moana. It is a rare surviving example of tall native bush on the flood plain of the Waiohine and Ruamahanga Rivers, and provides a sense of how majestic the forest was before the land was cleared and drained for agriculture.
98b Ahikouka Road
You can still see impressive pukatea, matai, totara and kahikatea trees amongst the tawa, titoki, kowhai and manatu that predominate today.
The forest block is covered by a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenant. Invasive weeds have been largely eliminated but trapping of predators – rats, stoats, ferrets and feral cats – is ongoing. Murray plants out many native seedlings every winter to enhance the natural regeneration. Kererū, tūī, kahu, fantails, waxeyes, ruru, grey warblers and shining cuckoo abound.
Part two is the restored spring-fed waterway that is slowly coming back to life. Nine years ago the stream was blocked by the mass of roots and accumulated debris from the huge overhanging willow trees. Now the Muhunoa Stream flows freely, and endangered long fin eels and giant kokopu make their home there (just like at Pūkaha). Juliet estimates the stretch of stream adjacent to the house is home to over 50 eels. They are captivating to watch.
Restoration of the waterway is labour intensive and remains a work in progress. Look downstream from the eel viewing platform and you can see what it was like before restoration work started. Seeing the native wildlife return, not just the birds but the eels, the skinks and geckos, the occasional falcon and kākā as the original vegetation is restored, remains a prime motivation for Murray.
Part three is the fruit, berry and vegetable garden. It is two years old and is covered with hail net like the central Otago apricot orchards. Here the primary purpose of the cover is to protect the crops from birds while letting the wind, rain, frost and sun work their seasonal magic on the plants
Inside the 100 sq m covered garden you’ll find avocados, a variety of espaliered stone and pip fruit, cherries, berries and raised beds to grow all the veges for the household. Murray tends the garden and his wife Juliet processes the produce, sharing any excess, or preserving and freezing for later use.
Murray is a member of Pūkaha’s governance board. This is the first time Kererū has opened to the public.