Hackfalls Arboretum was founded by renowned tree expert Bob Berry and features 50 hectares of rare shrubs and trees around natural lakes.
The catalogue shown here is based on the book Hackfalls Arboretum: Catalogue of Plant Collection, published by Bob Berry in 2016. Some additional information is taken from an Excel file that Bob had created, the last version dated May 2016. All the photos from the book are included here, as well as photos taken by Roderick Cameron in 2019 and other photos found on Wikimedia.
For Quercus (oaks), all notes included in the book have been added in this online catalogue. Text in square brackets has been added to reflect nomenclatural changes and other updates. Heights have been taken from the book, where it is stated they were mostly taken in 2004. The 2016 Excel file in some cases showed different heights and these have also been recorded here, using 2016 as the date. These dates may not be accurate and should not be relied on to calculate growth rates.
The “grid location” (e.g. G4-85/2) refers to a grip map which can be viewed here. The initial letter and number (G4) refer to a square on the map, and the figures that follow (85/2) indicate distance in meters east/north from the south-west corner of the square.
Below is the introduction to the book catalogue written by Bob Berry and a list of abbreviations.
Hackfalls is a sheep and cattle station of circa 800 hectares (1,800 acres), of which the arboretum section is spread over about 50 hectares. Trees are widely spaced in grazed pasture and include over 2700 different plants. All plants are listed in a data base which is kept updated.
The Whyte family from Scotland, who were the first European settlers to acquire the station, named it Abbotsford. The station came under the ownership of the Berry family c.1920. At that time the Whyte family retained several hectares of land including the sites of the original homestead and a family grave. That retained area has kept the name of Abbotsford. Two old trees in this Abbotsford section are included in the catalogue for historic interest. Recently it was decided to rename the station Hackfalls to keep separate the identities of the two properties. Hackfalls was the name given by my grandfather to the original property of the Berry family in Tiniroto, which they settled in 1889. This property has since been subdivided and the name changed.
In June 1993 we visited the original Hackfall (somewhere along the line an 's' has been added to the name here) which is a forested wilderness reserve area in a deep part of the valley of the river Ure near the village of Grewelthorpe, in Yorkshire, England. This forested valley is rather similar to the valley of the Hangaroa River, especially as it would have been in 1889, before tree clearance. The Hangaroa River and its valley bounds both NZ stations which have had the name Hackfalls.
Distance from Gisborne being 67 km and from Wairoa 50 km on the inland road between these two centres. Longitude is 177 degrees 30 minutes east and latitude about 38 degrees 47 minutes south. Altitude on the station varies between about 120 m and 388 m above sea level, being 270 metres (900 feet) at the homestead. Topography of the local station results from an old landslide from the North and East which occurred about 7,000 years ago, the latest estimate 7,155 years ago (Ross 1979) being based on a radiocarbon date from a buried totara (Podocarpus totara) log.
The two small lakes shown on the grid map, and others in the district were formed at that time. Of these two lakes, Karangata has an area of about 10 hectares (22 acres) and a maximum depth of approximately 20 metres (70 feet), while Kaikiore has an area of about 5 hectares (11 acres) and a maximum depth of approximately 5 m (18 feet). Soils on the steeper slopes and also the subsoil derive from a yellow clay which has weathered from the basal mudstone (papa), on the more level areas the soils derive from a superficial series of volcanic ash (pumice) deposits, with an aggregate thickness of about 50 cm (20 inches). These ash deposits came from several rhyolite showers from eruptions in the Taupo-Rotorua region to the West. Small areas of soil derive from old lake and swamp deposits. Combinations and accumulations of these various soil types are to be found in places as a result of downwash and slumping.
The highest annual rainfall in the last thirty five years was 2739 mm (110 inches) in 1974, while the lowest was 963 mm (40 inches) in 1998, the average annual rainfall at the homestead being about 1650 mm (65 inches). Up to five falls of snow can occur in the same year, however the occasional year is snow free, but usually is about 25 mm (1 inch) deep or less, soon melting. However, a freak fall in May 1988 reached about 450 mm deep and did considerable damage to trees unaccustomed to such a heavy weight; this was the heaviest fall of snow in living memory for this locality. Ground frosts of a few degrees Celsius occur every winter with very few in some years. A freezing wind burning shoots and leaves has occurred once since our family arrived back in Tiniroto in 1924 when I was eight years old.
The Maori occupation of this district was followed by recurrent fires which destroyed much of the original forest cover except in ravines and along the Hangaroa River on the western boundary of the station, these fires were succeeded by a cover of bracken fern and scrub, which was perpetuated by successive burning. With European settlement, commencing in the 1880s most of the remaining forest was cleared and together with the scrub and fern was replaced by grassland, mostly of introduced grass and clover species. A few scattered remnants of the original plant cover remain, the largest of which at Hackfalls consists of 4 ha of forest, now protected together with the arboretum area by a Queen Elizabeth II Trust covenant since 1985.
In 1993 the Hackfalls Charitable Trust was formed to generate funds for future maintenance of the Arboretum. Natural regeneration of forest, scrub and fern still occurs in limited areas . The largest native tree remaining in the immediate locality is a specimen of Dacrycarpus dacrydioides with a height of 44.5 metres (150 feet) and a stem diameter of 213 cm (80 inches) at a height of 1.8 m above ground level, these measurements were taken by S W. Burstall in 1973. This tree is growing in a Gisborne District Council reserve 100 m outside the station boundary, beside the Hangaroa River.
Our large collection of Mexcian oaks had their names checked in April 2004 by an expert on Mexican oaks, Allen Coombes, at the time chief botanist of Hillier Gardens, England. During the 1980s I made several seed collecting trips to Mexico, the first was on an International Dendrology Society tour. The reason for so many trips was that some oak species do not seed every year and some seed lots did not germinate. On one occasion there were none and on another only one seedling, Whether this may have been due to some variation in the treatment the seed were given on arrival in NZ or due to weevil grubs is anyone’s guess. Regarding orientation using the aerial photo grid map, the homestead and garden are mainly in squares E & F8 and E & F9 at the centre, while the approach road is to the right (east).