New Zealand Native Honeys

The New Zealand Native Forest is uniquely diverse. Of the many Native trees, some produce flowers with an abundance of nectar. Each one with a unique flavour.

Somewhat overshadowed by Manuka Honey, these other New Zealand Native honeys are well worth a taste. You will not be disappointed.

Rata Honey

Northern Rātā (Metrosideros robusta) often begins life as an epiphyte. The host tree is usually Rimu. The resulting tree can grow to a massive 25m tall.

Southern Rātā (Metrosideros umbellata) grows up to 15 metres (49 ft) or more tall. Unlike its relative, northern rata, this species rarely grows as an epiphyte.

Southern Rātā (Metrosideros umbellata) near Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand, South Island.

 

The rare and brilliant scarlet coloured Rata tree flowers only blossom every few years. When it does it produces masses of red flowers.

Rata honey is very light in colour, and has a distinctive silky smooth buttery texture with a fruity aroma. The exceptional quality and delicate taste of this remarkable honey makes it one of the finest and rarest Honeys in the world.

Author: Graham Rabbitts - originally posted to Flickr as Rata tree
Author: Graham Rabbitts - originally posted to Flickr as Rata tree

Kanuka Honey

Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides) is a spreading shrub or tree, sometimes growing to a height of 18 m (60 ft) with bark which peels in long strips and young branches which tend to droop.

The flowers are white or pale pink, crowded on side branches or in the axils of upper leaves.

Kanuka is a sweet honey with an aromatic butterscotch taste similar to that of its Cousin Manuka. It is a buttery light colour.

Kanuka: Bushgate Farm, Mount Bruce, NZ.
Kanuka: Bushgate Farm, Mount Bruce, NZ.

Kamahi Honey

Kāmahi (Weinmannia racemosa), is an evergreen small shrub to medium-sized tree. It is the most abundant forest tree in New Zealand,[2] occurring in lowland, montane, and subalpine forests and shrubland from the central North Island south to Stewart Island.

Kāmahi bears racemes of small, pink or white flowers from July to January.

An intense strong, complex, flavour sensation. Perfect for adding to recipes. Pale and beautifully buttery golden in colour. It's a fabulous honey to go with cheeses.

Kamahi: Bushgate Farm, Mount Bruce,  NZ.
Kamahi: Bushgate Farm, Mount Bruce, NZ.

Pohutukawa Honey

Pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), also referred to as the New Zealand Christmas tree, and iron tree, is a coastal evergreen tree that produces a brilliant display of red (or occasionally orange, yellow[6] or white[7]) flowers made up of a mass of stamens.

It is renowned for its vibrant colour and its ability to survive even perched on rocky, precarious cliffs.

Pohutukawa honey is collected every December when the flowers are in full, bright red bloom. Pale gold in colour, it is a delicate, sweet honey, with floral flavours and a subtle, surprising salty aftertaste.

Pohutukawa: Miramar, Wellington NZ.
Pohutukawa: Miramar, Wellington NZ.

Rewarewa Honey

Rewarewa (Knightia excelsa), is an evergreen tree endemic to the low elevation and valley forests of New Zealand's North Island and Marlborough Sounds.

Rewarewa grows to 30 m tall, with a slender crown. The leaves are alternate, leathery, narrow oblong. The flowers are bright red/brown.

It was called New Zealand honeysuckle by early European settlers but the name has fallen into disuse in preference for the Māori name.
Rewarewa flowers are a great source for honey production, with the resultant Rewarewa honey being a deep reddish colour with a caramel-like flavour

Rewarewa: Bushgate Farm, Mount Bruce NZ.
Rewarewa: Bushgate Farm, Mount Bruce NZ.

Beech Honeydew Honey

‘Honeydew’, often also referred to as ‘Forest Honey’ is honey produced from honeybees collecting nectar exuded from a scale insect.

Collected from the Beech forests of New Zealands South Island. Two species of Beech tree (Black Beech (Nothofagus solandri) and Red Beech (N. fusca)), are home to two species of honeydew insects, Ultracoelostoma assimile and U. brittini.

The enzymatic action of the honeydew in the gut of the scale insect may be benefical. Honeydew is higher in Oligosaccharides (complex sugars) than most all flower source honeys. Oligosaccharides are considered a probiotic in that it aids and promotes beneficial bacteria in the gut. Thus Beech Honeydew may be helpful after antibiotic use.

The honeydew produced from the native New Zealand Beech tree is a wonderful liquid honey ideal for the table as it rarely crystalises (low in glucose and fructose and high in more complex Oligosaccharides sugars such as maltose, erlose, and melezitose). It is rich and very dark red/brown in colour with a malty taste. Will add a richness to barbecues and roasts.

Beech Tree, Bushgate Farm Mount Bruce NZ.
Beech Tree, Bushgate Farm Mount Bruce NZ.