Most shelterbelts in Southland serve mainly as a physical barrier to reduce wind speed and improve the local micro climate. However, shelterbelts can also provide important habitats for native insects and birds. Find out about the benefits of using native trees for your shelterbelt and see our list of recommended species.

Benefits of native shelterbelts

Shelterbelt shrub border, Rance’s place.Shelterbelt shrub border, Rance’s place.There are many benefits to planting your shelterbelts with native species, including:

  • Providing dense shelter from ground-level up
  • Looking attractive, with a variety of textures, colours, shapes and heights
  • Providing habitat for wildlife and attracting native birds.

Native shelterbelts are also largely maintenance free once they have established. They won’t need topping.

Benefits for wildlife

Native shelterbelts help to increase biodiversity in your area. They provide shelter and food for a range of insects and birds. Together with other areas of native planting, native shelterbelts help to recreate natural habitats.

Benefits for the farm

Native shelterbelts can benefit your farm by:

  • Protecting livestock, land and crops
  • Reducing erosion and run-off
  • Improving landscape values
  • Providing a buffer between farmland and watercourses.

Native shelterbelts also have the advantage of being largely maintenance free once established.


By using locally sourced (ecosourced) native plants, you’ll use plants that are better adapted to local conditions and therefore more likely to thrive.

Ecosourcing means sourcing plants from your local area. Plants sourced from your local area are better adapted to your local conditions. They are more likely to survive and help to preserve the distinctiveness of our region.

When using ecosourced plants try to select plants from seeds collected as close as possible to where you want to plant. Contact us at the nursery for more advice about ecosourcing for your place.

Because of severe winds in Southland some of the most effective shelterbelts are native Olearia species – Olearia dartonii and Olearia traversii. While not naturally native to Southland they are useful as a shelter species.

Key design features

Choose plants that won’t grow too tall in your shelterbelt. Pittosporum species, such as black mapou and lemonwood are most commonly used. They are fast growing, hardy and don’t grow too tall.

Wider multi-row shelterbelts are more successful than single-row belts. In multi-row belts each plant can support and protect its neighbour. Plant more hardy, wind-tolerant species, such as flax and mapou, on the edge. See diagram below:

Shelterbelt planting plan.Shelterbelt planting plan.

If your shelterbelt is next to a fence, use windbreak cloth on the fence to protect plantings while they establish.

Native shelterbelt plants

Common nameBotanical namePlant typeWetDrySunShadeFrost
Fuchsia*Fuchsia excorticata
Koromiko - hebeHebe salicifolia
Koromuka - hebeHebe elliptica
Kohuhu/MapouPittosporum tenuifolium
LemonwoodPittosporum eugenioides
Lowland ribbonwoodPlagianthus regius
MingimingiCoprosma propinqua
Olearia speciesOlearia spp
WineberryAristotelia serrata

*Note: Fuchsia needs moist soil, it cannot tolerate very wet or dry conditions.
Use the mouse-overs to see information about symbols.

Find out more

Contact us for more information and advice about planting a native shelterbelt at your place.