Trees on the Kahikatea Walk, Carter Scenic Reserve

Image: Benhi Dixon | Creative Commons


Carter Scenic Reserve is one of the few remaining remnants of patchwork landscape once typical of the Wairarapa - grass, wetland, shrubland, and forest.

Place overview


  • Walking and tramping

Find things to do and places to stay Carter Scenic Reserve

About this place

Nature and conservation

This area of swamp and semi-swamp forest on two old terraces of the Ruamahanga River represents a patchwork landscape that was once typical of the Wairarapa - grass, wetland, shrubland, and forest.

Because Carter Reserve offers such a variety of habitat types, it has become a haven for some of the plants and animals that became extinct or reduced to low numbers through land clearance in the Wairarapa Plains during the 1880s and 1900s. They include brown mud fish and Coprosma pedicellata, a small leafed plant that grows in areas that are very wet in the winter and very dry in summer.

The Department of Conservation is working hard to turn the tide, eradicating weeds and re-populating the area with endangered species. An ambitious programme put in place over recent years is now showing encouraging results.

Tree lucerne planted in weed infested areas in 1982, now provide food and perching positions for birds which in turn deposit large amounts of native tree seeds in the area. The trees also shade the area and suppress further growth of weed species as well as providing protection for young native tree seedlings

Hardy native trees such as tarata lemonwood, totara and a variety of pittosporum have been planted among the tree lucerne. Rare tree species that once thrived at Carter and the surrounding area are being propagated and have been re-introduced to the area and planted amongst these regenerating forests.

History and culture

In 1896 Charles Rooking Carter made provision in his will for the protection of part of his estate and it was gazetted as a reserve in 1921.

Getting there

Carter Scenic Reserve is in Wairarapa, 12 km south-east of Carterton on the Gladstone Road.

From Carterton follow Park Road to the end, turn left into Carters Line and right into Gladstone Road. The reserve is signposted approximately 3 km along Gladstone Road. The car park is about 500m along the driveway.

Know before you go

You can take your dog onto the reserve as long as it is on a leash.


Whakaoriori / Masterton Office
Phone:   +64 6 377 0700
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   220 South Road
Postal Address:   PO Box 191
Masterton 5840
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