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Moore's Bush Reserve, Dunedin

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South Island

Just a short drive from Dunedin City, Moore's Bush is nestled in the beautiful Leith Valley.

This 4-hectare nature reserve has been restored from a dairy farm to native bush. Wildlife is abundant in this small forest, with native birds in the canopy and freshwater fish, crayfish and invertebrates in the waters of the Leith Stream that runs through the reserve.

Leith Stream Moores Bush

From dairy farm to a nature reserve

Moore's Bush Reserve is an example of successful ecological restoration. In 1945, Percy and Ellie Moore purchased the site, then a dairy farm flanked by a fragment of native bush, and began restoring this vegetation to its former glory of podocarp-hardwood forest, which was once predominant in the Leith Valley.

When Percy Moore passed away in 1974 the site was bequeathed to Forest & Bird, which has owned and managed it ever since. By then, the native bush planted by the Moores covered much of the area. Members of the Dunedin Branch continued reafforesting the land, which is now a lovely 30+ year old regenerated native forest that provides habitat to brown creepers, fantails, grey warblers and other native birds. The reserve also boasts a few centennial trees.

In the 90's, it was deemed logical to manage both Moore's Bush and the adjacent DoC Scenic Reserve, a 2ha crown land section, as one unit. Informal arrangement between the two parties exists, with Forest & Bird nominally managing both areas.

Securing the reserve boundaries

In 2013, Moore's Bush was partly re-fenced to secure the reserve boundaries against wandering stock from nearby farms. A contractor was hired by Forest & Bird to build a new fence on the northern edge of the reserve and design an effective flood-gate across the Leith Stream. Fencing was achieved thanks to the financial support of the Marjorie Barclay Trust.

DoC made their own arrangements to fence the western edge of Moore's Bush and the boundaries of the Scenic Reserve.

The old fence was cleared of overgrown vegetation and still stands today along the neighbouring farm and Thompson Road.

Predator control

For several years from 2013, a pest control programme was managed within the area, run by Craig Pelvin and other Forest & Bird volunteers. It regularly captured mustelids and possums, amongst other pests. 

Once predator numbers were down to a regular minimum, traps were uplifted and moved to other Forest & Bird conservation areas within Dunedin.

Ongoing conservation work

The current focus of the branch management is tree planting, removal of exotic weeds, and track and fence maintenance.

Planting and weeding. Overall the native trees planted on the reserve are growing well and becoming a healthy forest. For the future, our main task is to finish planting the remaining treeless areas and ensure these plantings survive by clearing them of smothering grass and invasive introduced weeds, primarily blackberry and broom.

The main plantings are of podocarps, pittosporums, coprosmas, broadleaf, wineberry, and fuschia.

Fence and track maintenance. The reserve fence is maintained to prevent damaging stock incursions and the flood-gate systematically checked after heavy rain events. Hiking tracks are kept clear of overgrown vegetation.

The Moore's Bush Reserve sub-committee is composed of Francie Beggs, Beatrice Lee and Jeni Pelvin.

How you can help

An extra pair of hands is always very welcome and volunteers have indeed greatly contributed to making Moore's Bush Reserve lush and beautiful. We primarily need help with tree planting and weeding and occasionally with clearing tracks and the flood-gate.

To join us for upcoming working bees at Moore's Bush, write us at You can also follow us on Facebook to keep informed about upcoming volunteer opportunities in the Dunedin area.

This 4ha section of regenerated native bush is only a short drive away from Dunedin's CBD, but plenty of native birds live there and aquatic life abounds in the Leith Stream that traverses the reserve. Forest & Bird has owned and managed the reserve since 1974.

How to get there: At the North end of George St, turn left into Malvern St and continue up the valley into Leith Valley Road for several km. Then turn into Thompson Road. You can view directions on the map below under 'tracks'.

The reserve entrance, a stile next to a gate, is 50m up. 


There is an easy 15 min loop track that joins a longer track. Expect to walk across the reserve in about 30 min. See below for a map:

Moore's bush tracks

Native fauna

Native birds found at Moore's Bush include bellbird, tui, fantail, grey warbler, kereru (native pigeon), yellow breasted tomtit, brown creeper, and shining cuckoo. A number of introduced species, including the common Eastern rosella, are also found within the reserve. Kakariki parakeets and South Island robins have been spotted nearby.

The healthy Leith Stream is home to a range of aquatic species such as freshwater crayfish and eels.

Native flora

The forest is composed of podocarp conifers and broad-leaved hardwood trees, many of which were planted by the Dunedin Branch.

Moores Bush

Native plant species that occur in the reserve include mahoe, horopito, tarata and emergent pokaka, totara, miro, pahautea, kahikatea, matai, pittosporums, coprosmas, bradleaf, wineberry, fuschia, and rimu—one rimu specimen is 800 years old.

Project or Reserve contact

Janet Ledingham

Last updated:

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