Magazine of the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust
November 2006

Reproduced with permission from QEII National Trust - Subject to copyright in its entirety.


Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island is rich in natural heritage. Separated from the Coromandel Peninsula long ago, its geology is similarly volcanic in origin and gives rise to a spectacular, rugged landscape and complex coastline. In addition to remnants of once-extensive podocarp / hardwood forest, the island is refuge to some rare and threatened native species, including the Great Barrier Island kanuka, Leptospermum sinclairii, which is confined to the island.

Great Barrier landowners are helping to protect the island’s natural character with QEII open space covenants. As at 1 October 2006, 7 landowners had registered covenants over 359ha, and 3 more had approved covenants that will protect a further 60ha when registered.

Todd Wheeler Covenant

A few huge kahikatea stand sentinel in bubbles Wheeler’s newly registered 137ha covenant behind Tryphena bay. With trunk diameters of up to 1.5 metres, these forest giants would have witnessed – but somehow escaped – the surrounding forest clearance that supplied Auckland firewood in the 1920s and 30s.

Today, Bubbles guards the manuka/kanuka scrub that has regrown on the cleared land, together with the forest remnants that include taraire and puriri and one of the larger kauris in the southern third of the island.

QEII Rep for South Auckland, Lynda Fleming, and Bubbles Wheeler admire the lush undergrowth in Bubble's covenant.
Photo: Margaret McKee

Rare Lizard Habitat
Helga and Peter Speck’s 14ha puriri-taire forest covenant is home to a diverse range of indigenous species including the threatened black petrel, and the nationally endangered brown teal and chevron skink.

Peter says they haven’t sighted a chevron skink for a couple of years but, according to the Department of Conservation, that’s hardly surprising as it is a very shy and extremely well camouflaged species.

The skink is one of New Zealand’s rarest, having survived only on Great Barrier Island and possibly on Little Barrier Island. Their survival on the islands is probably due, in part, to the absence of predators such as stoats, ferrets, weasels and norway rats (the latter preferring the same damp, streamside habitats as the chevron skink.)

Helga and Peter are committed to protecting the biodiversity on their land; they participate in the Windy Hill – Rosalie Bay pest control programme and are propagating the mistletoe, Ileostylus micranthus, to increase the local population.


The Chevron Skink, Oligosoma homalonotum, is New Zealand's largest lizard, measuring up to 30cm long, and is distinguished by the V-shaped markings on its back.
Photo: Dick Veitch, Crown Copyright. DoC

More: Harrison family - safeguarding the coast - Safe haven - Glenfern Sanctuary, bringing back the birds