Rimu tree (Dacrydium cupressinum)
The rimu is the most common native conifer you’ll find around New Zealand. It can be found around much of the North Island and the lowland forests of the South Island, especially on the West Coast, where the densest populations can be seen. It’s a tall tree that can reach heights of up to 50m (165ft), when fully grown. As a young tree, it has bright olive-green weeping branches that are softly spiky to the touch, and as it matures these become drooping branches, both of which make it look very different from surrounding trees. The rimu is a member of the Podocarp family, and has ‘male’ and ‘female’ trees, different to most conifers, which tend to have both male (pollen) and female (seed) cones on the same tree.
Rimus can live to a ripe old age – 1000 years is not unheard of, although 500-600 is probably more the norm. This slow-growing tree was the most common native tree that was milled for a long time, and many older houses will have the beautiful reddish-brown timber for polished and stained floor boards, doors and panels. Nowadays, the trees are protected from logging on public land and only limited logging occurs on private land, often extracted by helicopter. As a result, recycling rimu timber for furniture is a popular practice.
The rimu tree means a lot to us here at Active Adventures New Zealand. It's the name we gave to our signature trip and you’ll have the opportunity to see one up close while hiking on pretty much every adventure tour we run here in New Zealand.