A trial near the Canterbury village of Hanmer Springs aims to see if maple syrup can be produced in New Zealand.
A small plantation of maple trees was planted there last autumn by the University of Canterbury.
Despite Canada's freezing winters playing a pivotal role in its maple syrup production, research team lead Professor Matt Watson believes sap production can happen here.
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"We planted our first maple saplings near Hanmer Springs last autumn and will coppice-prune them to keep them small.
"We're now working with other landowners to establish additional small-scale plantations, each with around 100 trees," he said.
He believes the secret is young trees closely spaced in a horticultural-style row-crop.
Watson said this winter sap would be extracted from the trees so the sugar concentration could be measured.
A trial plantation of birch trees was also planned - birch syrup is produced in a similar way to maple syrup but has a more savoury taste.
"In conjunction with iwi, our research team is also hoping to identify native tree extracts that may be useful as components in food or rongoā," Watson said.