A crowdfunding campaign to buy 112ha of native forest in the south Hokianga's Wekaweka Valley is not the runaway success a similar scheme was to buy 8ha adjoining the Abel Tasman National Park.
The price of saving the block of native forest near the world-famous Waipoua kauri forest is only $185,000 - a far cry from the $2.3 million given by the public last year to buy Awaroa Beach in the Abel Tasman park.
In Northland, with less than two weeks to go before its crowdfunding campaign closes, the Native Forest Restoration Trust has only been pledged $18,620 to date, well below the target of $120,000.
The trust is urgently appealing for public help to seal the deal on what it calls an amazing opportunity to turn the last remaining fragment of internationally significant indigenous forest in the Wekaweka Valley into a fully protected reserve.
In February, trust manager Sandy Crichton said the owners had agreed on a "special price" of $185,000 to the trust, on the understanding the sale would be completed quickly.
"Opportunities to purchase areas of such ecological significance don't come up that often," Crichton said.
"When they do it's imperative to act swiftly, and we're asking for the public's help to do so here."
Christchurch men Duane Major and Adam Gard'ner, who launched the high-profile Awaroa Beach Givealittle campaign in which 40,000 Kiwis gave $2.3m toward the purchase price of $2.8m, are also calling for people to get behind the Wekaweka purchase.
"With their support and yours, we'll purchase the property and turn it into a protected reserve," Crichton said.
"The forest will be able to continue to regenerate and grow and everyone will have the opportunity to visit and enjoy its ecological significance."
Linking with the Waipoua Forest, the Wekaweka site is home to some of New Zealand's largest kauri trees, other giants like rata, kahikatea and rimu, and wetland species such as swamp maire.
More than 60 nationally threatened animal and plant species had been recorded in or near the reserve site. Bird life included the endangered kokako and the North Island brown kiwi, for which the area is a stronghold.
Since 1980 the trust had established well over 7000ha of native forest and wetland as nature reserves throughout New Zealand.
The trust believes restoring the Wekaweka Valley site to its former glory would support larger-scale conservation in the area, including the proposed Kauri National Park.
Contributions of any size can be made at www.nfrt.org.nz/wekaweka-appeal.