Montana Heritage Trail

By Joelle Thomson

Kauri Tree, photo by Russell Street.
Kauri Tree, photo by Russell Street.
Combine your love of wine with your concern for the environment with tNew Zealand's first eco wine walk.

A discussion over a couple of wines about a neglected stand of indigenous New Zealand native kauri trees turned into New Zealand’s first eco wine walk.

The Montana Heritage Trail, opened to the public in 2002 is the result of a partnership between the Auckland Regional Council and Montana Wines Limited.

The idea to create the walk came about in 2000 when Montana Wines (now Pernod Ricard New Zealand) entered into an agreement with the Auckland Regional Council to upgrade an existing eight kilometre-walking track around a vast collection of kauri trees.

“We talk about letting nature tell its story, but there’s nothing like being out on the trail and hearing it first hand,” says Pernod Ricard viticulture manager, Tony Hoksbergen, who has been involved in the trail since its inception.

The Montana Heritage Trail winds its way around a collection of more than 1000 giant kauri trees (Agathis australis) – many of them over 600 years old.

These slow growing, straight trees were highly valued in pioneer New Zealand for ship masts, construction and furniture, while their gum was bled to make paint and varnish. Due to excessive logging early on, it is rare to find large groups of kauri today.

“We want to give local people and visitors the opportunity to enjoy one of New Zealand’s inimitable nature experiences. At the same time, we hope it will foster a greater awareness and respect for our environment,” Hoksbergen says.

The trail is also home to other native species, including one of New Zealand’s only two indigenous mammals, the long-tailed bat. Among the native birds to be found on the trail are kereru (native wood pigeons) tui and piwakawaka (fantails).

Montana Wines (now known as Pernod Ricard New Zealand) had its birth in the Waitakere Ranges, where Croatian immigrant Ivan Yukich planted his first vineyard in the 1930s. His sons carried on the tradition and adopted the name Montana (meaning “mountainous”) in homage to the vineyard’s site.

Details on the 8 kilometer tramping track and walking conditions can be found at Regional Parks Auckland.

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