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A profile of Tunnel Creek evergreens

Bevan Walker, New Zealand Tree Grower February 2012.

About 27 km south of Richmond is the Spooners Range, over which the main road goes to Christchurch. Under this is the old tunnel of the now defunct railway that went south of Nelson. Named after the tunnel, the 71 hectares of my woodlot borders the old railway line that leads to the tunnel.

Most of the property commands the whole face of one side of the valley, so has a variety of land from valley floor to ridge top at 320 metres. The predominant soil type is Moutere Hills clay. Rainfall has been measured for several years and averages an annual 1,200 mm.

Between 1971 and 1973 the whole woodlot was planted at 1,200 trees a hectare. In addition, I planted 60 Douglas fir and 10 redwoods, these now having a pruned height of 12 metres. Following a succession of small harvests over the last 15 years, the second rotation of plantings has been staggered, on the cut-over pine. These have been planted at 950 trees per hectare.

A mixture of trees

The valley floor is approximately 150 metres wide and 1,150 metres long with the stream meandering from side to side. I have not replaced the valley with pines. Instead I have planted blackwood, redwood, macrocarpa, lusitanica, Douglas fir, red alder, Lawson and Leyland cypress, and Japanese cedar.

Four years ago I planted 1,000 redwood as well as 50 Himalayan weeping spruce, 40 tulip trees, 20 ash, and 50 incense cedar. The tulip trees are doing well with the average height over two metres. They were bare rooted and about 1.2 metres when planted out.

The redwood are romping away and some of them are up to three metres in height.The red alders are 14 years old and pruned up to six metres.The Lawson cypress are the same age and pruned up to 3.6 metres.Two years ago I planted 700 Japanese cedar and these are also doing well.

Blackwood on the right, redwood on the left
Some 20-year-old Eucalyptus saligna

Making a difference

On the low side of the road which is just off the valley I have 20-year-old Eucalyptus saligna and above the road is E. fastigata. They have been high pruned and are a good diameter with straight trunks.

I do most of the pruning in the winter. There are about 40 different sorts of trees and every one has to be a good timber tree. There are five skids and five water ponds on the property which attract paradise, grey and mallard ducks. I do my logging in a two man gang, where we harvest about 3,000 tonnes in three months.

I trap cats, stoats, ferrets and possums. There are many native birds on the property, including bush robins, tomtits, rifleman, grey warbler, kingfisher, sometimes a falcon.

My property is evolving into something quite different from how it was 40 years ago, with some new ideas being applied. It is a satisfying place of work, and seeing a truckload of logs leaving makes it all worthwhile.

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