Our orchard is located in the Far North of New Zealand, which has a rich Maori history and still contains an abundance of artifacts, shell midens and pa sites. This area of New Zealand was officially discovered by Captain James Cook on Christmas day 1769 and at the time was described as the “Desert Coast” due to the vast areas of sand split up by ancient rocky outcrops known as North Cape and Mount Camel.
What Captain Cook had sighted was in fact the results of 150,000 years of substantial geological events which had formed this unique and special place in New Zealand and can best described as the largest dune complex in the country.
The sands that make up the Aupouri Peninsula are a mixture from eroded sand from Orewa, Bay of Islands and Waikato River deposits which resulted from the erosion of an emerging New Zealand mainland. These sands were deposited offshore and over time were redeposited on the Peninsula by coastal currents and strong winds slowly joining up the remnants of the volcanic Islands of Mount Camel and North Cape.
100,000 years ago the area where King avocado is situated was actually underwater which eventually turned into land by way of sea levels lowering and deposited sands building up to form land. At the time the new Far North Peninsula was formed the world was emerging from the last ice age and although it remained warm through the coldest periods compared with most of the rest of New Zealand, sometimes had snow fall but at other times basked in trade winds.
Post 100,000 years the sea level dropped again so the new land stood high and wide enough for great forests to establish themselves but ongoing events such as sea level rises and falls saw vegetation come and go which is indicated by 45,000 year old Kauri logs which were discovered on King Avocado when it was planted.
It was in this time that the foundation of the substantial underground aquifer was laid down and to this day the avocado trees are irrigated from this resource which is located 140m below King Avocado in a 30m pure shell bed.
Evidence suggests that at least three layers of forest existed around the King Avocado area while further north geologist discovered seven distinct forests each above each other.
Geologists record four different series of dunes on the peninsula with the third stage being formed 5000 years ago which evolved into light soils when Maori discovered the north and used them for gardens to grow food.
The forth dune series is the one present today and provides an excellent free draining and fertile medium for growing avocados. This stabilised sand was not always the case as records indicate. In the 1920’s the shifting sands of the peninsula cased real issues in terms of access and sustainable agriculture. In the 1930’s real efforts were made to understand the problem and look at solutions to stabilise the dunes and prevent the ongoing encroachment.