A view of the Hemi Matenga hills, which overlook the town of Waikanae, taken from Elizabeth Street, eastern Waikanae. Low morning cloud shrouds the hills, threatening rain, and creating a sense of drama and mystique. The forest of these hills, on the western flank of the Tararua Ranges, was originally cut for timber (and with a view to farming), though the forest of Hemi Matenga escaped the worst of the ravages of milling and fire. Hemi Matenga, and the adjacent Kaitawa Scenic Reserve, have now become forest reserves, characterised by the kohekohe tree, which is a feature of the coastal forest of the Kapiti area. Not only do the hills provide a beautiful backdrop to the town’s landscape, they are of immense ecological value as habitat to indigenous bird species and as part of an expanding ecologicial corridor connecting Kapiti Island with the Tararua Ranges; but they also provide benefits to human residents in terms of their recreational value and contribution to health and well-being.

Photos: Morning cloud shrouding the trees on Hemi Matenga Hills, Waikanae. Close up (top) and wider shot (below) of same view from Elizabeth Street. Photos by C. Knight.

See also: The kohekohe forest of Hemi Matenga Reserve; Views of Kapiti 6: A Reikorangi farmscape; Atakarawa Valley: last refuge of the huia.