Metrosideros excelsa



Pohutukawa is an iconic native tree known for its beautiful bright red flowers that bloom over summer. The trees grow to around 10-20 metres in height. The trunk is usually gnarled and knobby with dense foliage. The iconic flowers are tubular and are favoured among bees and birds. 


Pohutukawa is usually found along the coastal areas of New Zealand, particularly in the northern parts of the country. The tree thrives around sand or rocky terrain and is adapted to withstand strong winds and salt spray common in coastal areas. 

Cultural Importance

Pohutukawa is culturally significant to Māori culture. It is often called the “New Zealand Christmas tree” as it blooms during the holiday season and symbolises the summer holiday season. 

Associated Birds

Tūī: The Tūī is a medium-sized honeyeater known for its iridescent plumage and beautiful vocalizations. They are attracted to the nectar-rich flowers of Pōhutukawa trees and play a crucial role in pollination.

Kererū: The Kererū also known as the New Zealand Pigeon, is a large and distinctive bird with iridescent green or blue-green feathers on its back and wings. They feed on the fruits and berries of Pōhutukawa trees, helping to disperse seeds.

Yellowhead: The Yellowhead is a small songbird endemic to New Zealand. While not exclusively associated with Pōhutukawa trees, they may forage for insects, spiders, and honeydew on the bark and foliage.

Fantail: The Fantail is a small insectivorous bird known for its distinctive fan-shaped tail and acrobatic flight. They can often be seen foraging for insects around Pōhutukawa trees.

Kingfisher: The Kingfisher is a small bird with vibrant blue and orange plumage. They may be found near water bodies adjacent to Pōhutukawa trees, where they hunt for small fish, insects, and crustaceans.

Rifleman: The Rifleman is one of New Zealand's smallest bird species. They have vibrant green plumage, well-suited for blending into the forest environment. While not directly associated with Pōhutukawa trees, they may inhabit native forests that include these trees.

Saddleback: The Saddleback is a medium-sized passerine bird with a distinctive black head, throat, and upper body, and a chestnut lower body. While not commonly associated with Pōhutukawa, they may inhabit forested areas that include these trees.

Pipipi: The Pipipi, also known as the Grey Warbler, is a small insectivorous bird known for its melodious song. They can often be found foraging for insects among the foliage of Pōhutukawa trees.

Morepork: The Morepork is a small to medium-sized owl species. While not directly associated with Pōhutukawa trees, they may inhabit nearby forested areas and contribute to the nocturnal soundscape.

Ecological Role

Pohutukawa is an integral part of the ecosystems as it provides a habitat for various native bird species, such as tui and bellbirds, who feed on its nectar. It also provides shelter for other species, such as lizards and insects. Additionally, its deep roots protect coastal land from erosion and maintain healthy soils.

Conservation Status

Fortunately, the Pohutukawa is not a threatened species. However, some local populations are at risk due to the impacts of climate change on vulnerable coastal areas. 

Interesting Facts

  • In the past, Pohutukawa has been used for medicine in Māori culture as it supposedly holds healing properties for infections and other illnesses. 

Conservation Tips

Conserving Pohutukawa includes protecting coastal areas, avoiding damaging root systems and supporting local coastal conservation initiatives.