Tourists heading past Rainbow Mountain, south of Rotorua, might have once been puzzled at its name.

For years, the colourful ridges that adorned the 743m-high geothermal landmark had been swallowed up by dense stands of ugly green pine.

Paul Cashmore remembered the scruffy-looking forest that dominated the mountain back in the 1980s and 1990s.

"The geothermal slopes were covered in conifers - and now you have to look quite hard to see them," the local Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger said.

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"The mountain has regained its colours."

That hasn't come easily.

For nearly two decades, chainsaw gangs have negotiated the

Nature on the line

Big numbers

Striking a balance