Shelter Belts

Shelterbelts with native species

Natives may be planted in groups or randomly placed. The plants recommended for the exposed edge are those that are hardy to wind. However, the Olearia species are not as frost hardy as the other species. Pittosporum spp (black mapou "tenuifoliu" and lemon wood "eugenioides") are generally used more abundantly than other species.

When planning for mixed shelterbelt, place the hardiest species on the exposed side, the tallest growing species in the middle section and lower growing species towards the front. Besides providing good shelter this plan gives a wonderful visual pleasure:

  • Edge exposed to wind (you can think of windbreak cloth also)
    • Flax (2 m)/toe toe (2 m)/cabbage tree (12 m)
    • Olearia traversii (6 m)/Olearia dartonii (4.6 m)/Olearia paniculata (6 m)
  • Middle section – tall growing species
    • Black mapou (10 m)/wineberry (8 m)/ lemonwood (12 m)/lowland
    • Ribbonwood (15 m)/red mapou (7 m)/ tree fuchsia (12 m)/kaikomako (12 m)
    • South island kowhai (10 m)/marble leaf (10 m)/broadleaf (15 m)
  • Front – leeward side
    • Koromiko (3 m)/lancewood (12 m)/ Olearia arborescens (4 m)/three finger (5 m)

There are a number of nurseries that produce stock for shelterbelt and riparian plantings. These often have a range of hardy native species that are suitable for Southland conditions. Plants grown from locally collected seed are the best.


The cost depends on the plant size/pot size and also the number of plants. Root trainer plants are generally cheaper.


Erect stock proof fence as early as possible. This allows grass to grow and become rank. This also affords some shelter to the newly planted seedling. For best results, it is worthwhile to spot spray individual planting sites. This reduces competition while the plant establishes. It also assists plants to release spray or grub around plants to remove competition until plants reach 70-80 cm tall. If release spraying, use a selective herbicide (such as Gallant which is grass selective) to avoid damaging plants. Use correct label rates and avoid any chemical entering the waterway.

Site variation

Near the coast, salt spray and wind exposure may affect plant selection. Inland sites may experience harder frosts; this may also affect plant selection. In exposed sites, hardy shelter plants may require to be planted initially with other species added later. Some native plants are restricted in their distribution e.g. beech tends to be found in western and northern Southland, not on Southland plains or eastern Southland.

Ensure the plants chosen are suitable and tolerant of the conditions they will experience. If unsure seek advice from Environment Southland’s Land Sustainability Officers or from the Department of Conservation.