Walking Tracks: A walking track has been recently opened and marked out in this reserve, following a successful 20-year planting program carried out by the Waikato Branch. It is an easy walk featuring kauri trees with plaques commemorating Morgan family members.
The Locals: Native birds include the North Island fantail, grey warbler, pukeko and silvereye. The reserve is also frequented by kereru and tui. The reserve is filled with kauri, kahikatea, rimu, tanekaha, totara, ponga, pigeonwood and mamaku. The Waikato branch has recently planted up the wetlands with stands of manuka and kahikatea.
The Morgan Reserve is located in the lowlands of Waihi Ecological District, west of Waihi township. It comprises an area of 13 Ha and is surrounded by large areas of farmland. This fenced forest sanctuary is 120m above sea level and 15kms from the eastern coastline.
Kauri trees were originally common in the region, but intensive timber logging in the 19th and early 20th centuries severely lowered their numbers. Additionally, gum diggers used to bleed live kauris or burn the whole vegetation in order to dig gum from the ground. Unsustainable flax-milling was also carried in the 19th century which impacted many east coast wetlands. Large swathes of forests were also cleared to facilitate the mining of gold in the region.
When the logging and mining industries dwindled, farming became popular in the Waikato. This left only a few remaining tracts of kauri, and Morgan Reserve is one of the few sites where large stands of kauri can be found. Also, the reserve is one of the few sites where hard beech (Nothofagus truncata) can still be found.
The area was donated by Forest & Bird member Herbert John Morgan in 1993. The Waikato Branch then carried out a successful reforestation program that has just been finished. As a result, birdlife is gradually increasing.
Weed and pest control are permanent activities at this reserve. Working bees are organised across the year by the branch. Exotic flora include tree lucerne, Chinese privet, brush wattle and wilding pines. Animal pests found throughout the region are the brush-tailed possum, stoats, ferrets, rats, mice, rabbits, hares, and feral cats.
Getting there: From Paeroa, access is by following SH 2 through the Karangahake Gorge, turning left into Seddon St at the Waikino Historic Station, then left into Waitekauri Rd, across a bridge to the top of the rise. From Waihi, turn right into Campbell Rd, which continues as Waitekauri Rd. The location of the reserve is shown in the map below.