Official Recognition for Special Trees

Dec 24, 2013

Nineteenth century pioneers bequeathed more than gold mining and farming to the Queenstown Lakes District; they also left a living legacy of notable exotic trees, many of which are officially recognised in the New Zealand Tree Register.

The national database includes a Sequoiadendron tree in Highview Terrace on Queenstown Hill, which is recognised as the largest exotic conifer in New Zealand. The tree – also known as a giant redwood or Wellingtonia – is thought to have been planted in about 1870 and stands 45.4m high.

A Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) planted by Bendix Hallenstein at his Speargrass Flat estate, Thurlby Domain, in the 1870s is recognised as the tallest of its species anywhere in New Zealand.

Queenstown’s often-photographed “Trees of Justice” outside the courthouse are also listed in the register. The Sequoiadendron are said to have been planted outside the historic courthouse in about 1876 by Phillip Boult, who was clerk of the Lake County Council. According to the description in the register, Boult decided Queenstown should copy the American tradition of planting trees outside the courthouse, to provide shade for those attending court.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council protects these and other notable trees in its District Plan. Parks Technical Officer Gordon Bailey says that many of the trees are on Council-owned reserves, which gives them extra protection.

The Council will be installing information plaques outlining the history of some of the district’s most distinctive trees over the next year.

The full register of notable trees is on-line at