Mount Young - Hirakimata
Size: 2885 hectares
The Mount Young – Hirakimata biodiversity focus area is situated on public land on Aotea / Great Barrier Island. The land is administered by the Department of Conservation.
It is an extensive area of continuous native vegetation on rugged volcanic terrain.
The ecosystems found within this biodiversity focus area include:
- coastal forest (WF4) and pōhutukawa treeland on coastal cliffs (CL1) along a stretch of open coastline and within a sheltered bay on the west coast of the island
- a mosaic (mix) of kauri, podocarp, broadleaved forest (WF11) and regenerating kānuka forest and scrub (VS2)
- a stand of kauri-dominated forest (WF10)
- rocky inland bluffs (CL6)
- high-altitude cloud forest with kauri, tōwai, rātā and montane podocarps on the highest peaks of the island (MF25)
- many permanent and ephemeral streams including the streams which flow into Kaitoke Swamp.
Hirakimata is the highest point on Aotea / Great Barrier Island, at 627m above sea level. It is on this and surrounding high peaks where the high-altitude cloud forest (MF25) is found.
An extensive tract of forest and scrub cover the rugged terrain to the south and west of the summit of Hirakimata. Remnant kauri forest and regenerating kauri are found in the Wairahi Reserve. Some of the kauri stands are infected with kauri dieback, a soil-borne pathogen capable of killing kauri trees of all ages. Track upgrades have been completed and hygiene stations are in place to prevent further spread of kauri dieback.
There are three plant species present here that are found only on Aotea / Great Barrier Island.
Threatened and At-Risk seabird species, takoketai (black petrel) and Cook’s petrel, nest in burrows high up on Hirakimata.
Other native animals found within this biodiversity focus area include:
- toutouwai (North Island robin)
- koekoeā (long-tailed cuckoo)
- pekapeka-tou-roa (long-tailed bats)
- native lizard species.
There is an animal pest control programme underway, set up by the Department of Conservation with additional support from Auckland Council. The programme was established to help protect the seabird breeding populations and also to enhance the habitat value for other native plants and animals found here.
Pōhutukawa treeland, flaxland and rockland ecosystem (CL1)
This ecosystem occurs on coastal rock faces and eroding hill-slopes around the Auckland coastline and on offshore islands. It contains a mosaic of different plant communities including herbs, flax, shrubs and trees.
Hebe, wharariki flaxland and rockland ecosystem (CL6)
This ecosystem is strongly influenced by environmental conditions such as high rainfall, earthquakes and soil moisture. It includes a mosaic of vegetation communities including lichens, herbs, grasses, sedges and low forest species.
Mild forest ecosystem
Kauri, tōwai, rātā, montane podocarp forest ecosystem (MF25)
Found on steep volcano summits, this ecosystem experiences high rainfall, long periods of cloud cover, high to gale-force winds and occasional snowfall.
Kānuka scrub and forest ecosystem (VS2)
Found throughout New Zealand, kānuka dominated forest establishes readily after fire. It's diverse range of flowering and fruiting shrubs and trees provide habitat for a wide range of invertebrates, birds and lizards.
Warm forest ecosystem
Kauri forest ecosystem (WF10)
In the north of New Zealand, dense forests of the iconic kauri occur on hill slopes and hill crests. This long-lived forest ecosystem is significantly threatened through the spread of kauri dieback.
Warm forest ecosystem
Kauri, podocarp, broadleaved forest ecosystem (WF11)
Once widespread across the Auckland region, this warm forest ecosystem contains a range of podocarp and broadleaf trees on different landforms. It is an ideal habitat for birds, bats and lizards thanks to an abundance of fruit and nectar.