The Bream Head Scenic Reserve is located in a significant natural heritage environment. Bream Head and the Manaia Ridge Scenic Reserve are recognised as the most significant ecological features of the 6,444 hectare Manaia Ecological District. The Manaia ED essentially lies within the area known as Whangarei Heads. The rich and unique diversity of this area led to it being established as a separate ecological district in 1996 (Goldwater & Beadel, 2010).

Bream Head’s natural environments extend across a complete sequence of vegetation types from sandy and rocky seashore to high forest and rocky outcrops. Its forest is recognised as the largest and highest quality broadleaved coastal forest in Northland and contains a number of threatened, at risk and regionally significant species of plants and animals. This includes the largest mainland population of parapara (Pisonia brunoniana) (ranked as Relict) and one of only two sites[1] supporting the Nationally Critical Northland horopito (Pseudowintera insperata) a tree that is now only known from the Manaia Ecological District (Goldwater & Beadel, 2010[2]).

Native fauna include 15 threatened species, 12 at risk species and 8 regionally significant species. Bream Head is the only location in the Manaia Ecological District which contains the Nationally Critical landsnail (Punctidae sp. 223) –one of only 2 locations for this species in the world.  The site also contains the southernmost colony of pupuharakeke or flax snail (ranked as Range Restricted) in New Zealand (Goldwater & Beadel, 2010).

A wide range of native bird species are present from tui, grey warbler, fantail and morepork to kukupa, tomtit, brown kiwi, red – crowned kakariki, bellbird and kaka. The presence of the latter three species reflects the proximity of Bream Head to the Hen andChicken Islands and its importance as a stepping stone between the mainland and offshore islands.

In recognition of the significance of Bream Head, the Bream Head Conservation Trust was formed in 2002 to work in partnership with the local and wider Whangarei communities, the Whangarei District and Regional Councils, Iwi, and the Department of Conservation to manage the ecological restoration of the Bream Head Scenic Reserve. Its vision is to restore Bream Head as a place in which natural ecology is restored, with healthy forest and abundant bird song, where visitors can experience nature at its best.

[1] The other site is Manaia Ridge Scenic Reserve

[2] Goldwater N. & Beadel S. 2010 Natural areas of Manaia Ecological District. Produced for Department of Conservation