Mānuka Oil Production: How it’s Harvested and Extracted

Discover the labour of love that transforms the native Mānuka tree into the special essential oil used in ManukaRx.

While commonly found growing wild throughout New Zealand, the mānuka  trees that provide the essential oil found in ManukaRx is specifically sourced from the East Cape of New Zealand. Mānuka oil from the East Cape has qualities that are unique to the region; the essential oil boasts higher proportions of triketones, which enhances the oils antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and gives the oil its therapeutic abilities.

With a view towards sustainability, the mānuka tree utilized for ManukaRx is grown from seed in East Cape nurseries, where they are nurtured into seedlings before being planted into plantations. The mature mānuka trees are harvested once a year, after which the leaves are steam distilled and the mānuka essential oil is carefully extracted.

Manuka leaf in distillation pot

Mānuka leaf ready for distillation 

There are three common ways of extracting essential oil from plant matter -

  • Expression or cold press - Cold-pressed essential oils are extracted by being pressed, or held under pressure. This method is commonly used for citrus fruits with oil-laden rinds such as orange, grapefruit and lemon.
  • Water distillation - the plant matter is immersed in water, and the still is brought to the boil. The oil and water separate as the matter cools, and the oil is decanted. While not suited to all plants, some oils such as Neroli are able to be extracted via water distillation.
  • Steam distillation - this is the most gentle method and is widely used for the majority of essential oil extractions, including the mānuka oil used in ManukaRx. The distillation of ManukaRx oil takes place in one-tonne steel drums located near the plant's habitat on the East Cape of New Zealand. Steam passes through the plant matter, turning the volatile oil (meaning it evaporates easily) that occurs in sacs on the mānuka leaves in to vapour. Once passed into a condenser, the vapour cools and settles back into a liquid form, with the oil rising to the top and water below. The oil and water is decanted and collected - the remaining floral water can also be saved for use as a toner or fragrance. The time and temperature used in steam distillation vary depending on the plant, the ManukaRx oil is generally distilled for approximately 5 hours due to the heavier oil components of the plant.

Great care is taken in the harvesting and extraction of mānuka skin oil. It seems only fair - we use mānuka oil to soothe, moisturise and support our body’s natural processes, so we must treat both the land and plant with respect.

ManukaRx natural Skin Rescue Ointment takes the inherent power of mānuka oil and makes it easily accessible - no harvesting, distilling or extracting required.


  • Ron Hough

    Hi can you give me costing for the steam distillation system please

  • Maxine Smith

    So cool that you guys and women are doing this up the East Cape. Kia ora.

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