Durable eucalypts in the Wairarapa: information for growers

The Wairarapa, with its frequent hot dry summers, thriving existing forest industry, large areas of pastoral farming on highly erodible soil types, and potential markets for durable timber, is an ideal place for a sustainable regional hardwood industry. With the support of Greater Wellington Regional Council, local landowners and businesses, NZDFI is promoting durable eucalypts as a diversification opportunity for landowners. Plantings are underway on both ex-grazing land and cut-over radiata pine sites. 

A wood-supply catchment approach

Our vision is for a sustainable hardwood industry to be centred on a small-to-medium-sized processing operation at the existing forestry hub at Waingawa, south of Masterton.

For an economically viable, sustainable processing operation, an estimated 5,000 hectares of durable eucalypts will need to be planted over the next 30 years, to generate an average annual harvest of 50,000 tonnes of resource for the mill*. This equates to around 170ha/yr for the next 30 years.

There are over 181,000 hectares of farmland in Land Use Capability (LUC) classes 5-7 within a 40km radius of Waingawa, plus a further almost 38,000 hectares of forestry plantations. 5,000 hectares of new durable hardwood planting represents around 2.3% of this total land area.

(* Data based on modelling done by Scion using the Woodscape model, 2020)

Suitable land in Masterton wood-supply catchment:

LUC 5                                   7,446 ha

LUC 6                                 139,886 ha

LUC 7                                   33,694 ha

Plantation                            37,992 ha

Total suitable land:           219,018 ha


  • Proposed total area of new planting:  5,000 ha
  • Proposed new durable hardwood forest:  2.3% of suitable land
  • New planting for 30 yrs: 170 ha/year

Map: Developing a sustainable durable hardwood industry in the Wairarapa: proposed wood supply catchment centred on Waingawa, Masterton (click to enlarge).

Why the Wairarapa?

Watch our video of Wairarapa land owners and land managers explaining their reason for backing durable eucalypts.

The Wairarapa has been one of the NZDFI's priority regions throughout it's initial development phase.

The region has a number of significant advantages which will make durable eucalypts an ideal land-use diversification for farm and forest owners:

  • a summer-dry climate which, while challenging for pastoral farmers on drier soil types, is highly suited for NZDFI's dryland species
  • large areas of erosion-prone soils which need to be stabilised
  • a strong history of tree planting as part of farm diversification and soil conservation
  • a thriving forest industry, including several timber processors. The largest of these, Juken NZ Ltd, has planted durable eucalypt trials to investigate the potential to produce high-stiffness LVL using eucalypt veneer
  • a small but vibrant viticulture sector covering over 1000 hectares and numerous boutique and organic agricultural and horticultural producers, indicating good market potential for naturally durable posts and poles.

The Waingawa forestry hub

The Waingawa forestry hub is located just off State Highway 2 to the south of Masterton, adjacent to the railway line. The area, which is in Carterton District, is industrially zoned, and is home to several thriving large-scale forestry enterprises including:

  • Juken NZ Ltd sawmill and LVL producing plant
  • KiwiLumber sawmill
  • The 'log hub', where logs transported from forests around the Wairarapa are scaled, stored and loaded onto rail wagons for transport to CentrePort in Wellington.

Aspects to be addressed in later stages of planning for a new processing site would include power and water supply, waste disposal, and how to make optimum use of sawmilling residues - for example in generation for heat and power or re-processing into other products. In future we see a strong demand for all co-products of forests as new technologies for processing woody biomass are developed.

A second option for a new processing plant which could be considered in future is for a smaller post and pole processing plant centred somewhere close to Martinborough. Martinborough is home to the Wairarapa's wine industry and we anticipate a ready demand for untreated posts and poles. Log supply would come from a catchment within 20-30km of Martinborough.

Resources for Wairarapa growers

  • Watch our video of Wairarapa growers talking about their interest in durable eucalypts
  • Have a look at the presentations from the February 2021 workshop held at Tinui, near Masterton
  • Contact your Greater Wellington Regional Council Land Management Adviser or local forestry consultant. They can provide information and advice on:
    • choice of regime and developing a planting plan
    • choice of species - the NZDFI already has six established trials in the Wairarapa, and professionals working in this area should have good knowledge of how different species are performing on a range of Wairarapa sites
    • grants/financial and practical assistance available.
  • Contact local registered forestry advisers - for example, Forest360, who have esperience of establishing and managing durable eucalypts.
  • Have a look through other sections in our Guidelines for Growers
  • Visit the Te Uru Rakau and Canopy websites.