Mount Young - Hirakimata

Size: 2885 hectares

Site description

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.

Mountainous interior of Great Barrier Island and Hirakimata / Mt Young.
Hirakimata / Mt Young (centre right) and The 'Hogs back' in the foreground. Kauri, tōwai, rātā, montane podocarp forest (MF25) occupies the higher altitude areas of this BFA.
Photo credit: Andrew Macdonald, Biospatial Ltd 2019

Key ecosystems

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.

Hirakimata / Mt Young.
Hirakimata / Mt Young.
Photo credit: Andrew Macdonald, Biospatial Ltd 2019

Key species

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:

  • kākāriki
  • kākā
  • 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.

Related ecosystems