Welcome to Puketi Kids!

This section of the Puketi Forest Trust website is here to provide a resource of information about Puketi Forest for schools and young people everywhere. It describes some of the fascinating living things that make up the forest and is likely to be of interest to people of all ages.

This is your chance to experience Puketi Forest online! The Puketi Forest is an exciting and complex ecoystem. An ecosystem is a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and other micro-organisms) with each other and with their physical environment.

Different types of forest are described by the main kinds of trees that they contain. When we examine the physical environment that makes up Puketi Forest, we discover that Puketi’s forest type is a diverse mixture of hardwoods (such as tawa, towai and puriri), podocarps (such as totara and rimu) and the kauri. It is a subtropical kauri (Agathis australis) forest that covers 15,000 hectares and includes steep cliffs, plateau, swamps, streams and gorges and the bouldery Waipapa River.

Puketi Forest is home to many unique and magnificent New Zealand native trees including tawa, rimu, kahikatea and totara, as well as one of Northland’s great treasures, the majestic kauri tree.

Now let’s take a look at the different communities of organisms in the forest. We’ve included four virtual walks for you to take through the forest, so you can learn more about these communities:

As you take your online hike along the Puketi Nature Trail, notice the native plants and animals you encounter along the way. Look up and check out the forest’s rich canopy. You’ll find neat plants like epiphytes, that grow on other plants rather than on the ground. You may even spot a few birds along the way!

Puketi Forest Trust, restoring and protecting the native wildlife, trees and plants of Puketi Forest in Northland, New Zealand.

Birds of Puketi Forest

Puketi Forest was once full of the songs of many different birds. Today, because of predators like rats, stoats, weasels and possums, many of the birds have disappeared. The North Island kokako, for example, was reduced to a single male by 2003 — but we have begun to bring these birds back and will return more of the lost species as soon as possible.

How many species of birds can you find in the forest scene below? Click on the name of a bird in bold below to find out more about that species of bird and to listen to its song.

Click here to listen to the dawn chorus in Puketi Forest.

Approximately 41 species of bird have been recorded in Puketi Forest, including the following:

North Island Brown Kiwi, White Faced Heron, Paradise Shelduck, Mallard Duck, Grey Duck, Australasian Harrier, Morepork, Ring Necked Pheasant, Californian Quail, Brown Quail, Banded Rail, Pukeko, Black Backed Gull, New Zealand Wood Pigeon, Kaka, Eastern Rosella, Red Crowned Parakeet, Shining Cuckoo, Long Tailed Cuckoo, Grey Warbler, Welcome Swallow, Silver Eye (Waxeye), Song Thrush, Dunnock, Skylark, New Zealand Pipit, Fern Bird, Fantail, Tomtit, North Island Kokako, Tui, House sparrow, Chaffinch, Redpoll, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Yellowhammer, Starling, Mynah, Australian Magpie, Blackbird.

Did you know? Nearly half (19) of these are birds have been introduced to New Zealand and are not native.

Puketi Forest Trust, restoring and protecting the native wildlife, trees and plants of Puketi Forest in Northland, New Zealand.

Twlight Encounter

By day, Puketi Forest is a beautiful place, but at night the fun really starts! Puketi Forest is full of really interesting creatures, and many of them are nocturnal. Most people know that the kiwi is nocturnal, but did you know that there are many species of insects that also prefer the dark?

Be careful where you step as the forest floor is home to Kauri snails and weta. As well, 370 different kinds of plant make the forest their home, and three of them are endemic to the area (which means that they are only found in Puketi Forest). The kauri snail is a beautiful snail with its large glossy chocolate brown shell, and can be seen prowling around the forest floor looking for tasty bits to devour.

There are 12 nocturnal animals and a fungus shown in this forest picture, click on each name to find more information about that specific creature:

North Island Brown Kiwi, Puriri Moth, Ruru – (Morepork), Long Tailed Bat, Sheet web spider, Titiwai – (Glow worms), Kowhai Moth, Toadstools, Huhu Beetle, Manuka Chafer Beetle, Pupurangi – (Kauri Snail), Peripatus, Weta

Puketi Forest Trust, restoring and protecting the native wildlife, trees and plants of Puketi Forest in Northland, New Zealand.
Puketi Forest Trust, restoring and protecting the native wildlife, trees and plants of Puketi Forest in Northland, New Zealand.

River Walk

The Waipapa River and its tributaries snake their way through Puketi Forest. Because much of the headwaters are contained within the forest, this constitutes one of the least modified freshwater ecosystems in Northland.

Puketi Forest Trust, restoring and protecting the native wildlife, trees and plants of Puketi Forest in Northland, New Zealand.

The Waipapa River is known to contain 12 species of indigenous fish, including Shortfin eel, Koaro (Galaxias brevipennis), Common Smelt, Banded Kokopu (Galaxias fasciatus), Crans Bully and Lamprey (Geotria australis).

The river also has Freshwater Mussels (Hyridella menziesii or Kaeo), Freshwater Crayfish (koura, Paranephrops planifrons), Black Mudfish, Freshwater Limpets (Latia neritoides), MayflyFreshwater Crab, Dobson Fly, Caddisfly and shrimp (Paratya curvirostrus).

Join us on a river walk through the heart of Puketi Forest and see if you can spot 15 river dwellers pictured here.

Reptiles

Two species of gecko have been found in Puketi Forest, the Northland Green Gecko and the Pacific Gecko. The Northland green gecko (Naultinus grayii) is bright green on top with gold or grey markings and a paler underbelly. It is most commonly seen on Manuka and Kanuka trees. It bears live young in the autumn, which it defends by lunging at attackers with its mouth open, showing its red tongue and the vivid deep blue of its mouth. Because it lives in trees, the tail of the Northland green gecko is prehensile allowing it to hold on and move through trees easily. It feeds on insects and nectar during the day.

The Pacific Gecko (Hoplodactylus pacificus) and the forest gecko (H. granulatus) are also thought to be present in Puketi Forest, but there are no confirmed records of the forest gecko. The Pacific gecko is nocturnal and feeds on vegetation or on insects, grubs and berries. By day they hide in cracks in clay banks, under stones or in cracks in tree trunks. Sometimes they are seen basking in the sun. Their colour and patterning are variable and they bear their young in the late summer.

The copper skink (Cyclodina aenea) has been recorded in Puketi forest. The copper skink is the smallest of New Zealand’s lizards at 120mm long, half of which is the tail. They are brown on top with a cream underbelly, and have a light coppery line from the eye to the base of the tail. This lizard lives on the ground in open or shaded areas with sufficient cover. It is diurnal but most active early and late in the day. Copper skinks feed on insects, spiders, crustaceans and small snails. They mate in the spring and 4-6 young are born 3-4 months later. Like all skinks the copper skink readily sheds its tail to escape predators.

Did you know? Skinks have smooth skin and movable eyelids.

Puketi Forest Trust, restoring and protecting the native wildlife, trees and plants of Puketi Forest in Northland, New Zealand.

Pacific Gecko (Hoplodactylus pacificus)

Puketi Forest Trust, restoring and protecting the native wildlife, trees and plants of Puketi Forest in Northland, New Zealand.

The copper skink (Cyclodina aenea)