There are many wonderful and unique botanicals across New Zealand, but what is it that makes many of them so special? Plenty of factors have contributed to New Zealand’s special botanicals, with some even helping to create the world’s most powerful essential oil and the reason 80% of species found in New Zealand are endemic. Let’s take a walk in the wild to discover just what led to New Zealand’s amazing plant life.
We all know to protect ourselves from the sun, and how unforgiving a day without sunscreen at the beach can be. Or even a brief stroll.
New Zealand, given it’s position on the planet, happens to pass by the sun a lot closer than other countries during summer. Because the Earth orbits in an ellipse and not a circle, it passes closest to the sun in January and February during the Southern Hemisphere summers. And in those summer months, there is less ozone layer in the hemisphere with more direct exposure to UV rays.
Just like we’ve learnt to protect ourselves from the harmful UV rays, so have the plants of New Zealand. Because the UV rays are so intense, they produce more polyphenols that act almost like sunscreen. And it’s not just a fancy name, polyphenols are what give botanicals like mānuka their phenomenal antibacterial and antimicrobial potency and is why many New Zealand botanicals have amazing bioactive traits.
Because the East Cape region of New Zealand has higher levels of UV exposure, the mānuka here produces much higher levels of polyphenols. This is why it is so rich with triketones that make East Cape mānuka the most powerful antibacterial essential oil found in nature.
A Land of Movers and Shakers
Not to toot our own horn but there is no denying that the natural beauty of New Zealand is second to none, and the immense diversity in flora and the captivating natural landscapes are awe-inspiring. And something to be incredibly proud of.
Across two small islands and a collection of minor ones, you can experience almost every kind of natural habitat or environment in the world -- from desert sand dunes to volcanic landscapes, towering kauri tree forests to flat golden plains, fiords to glaciers -- and literally everything else in between. And in those environments you have one of a kind plant species that have sprouted up and adapted to those drastically different and sometimes harsh landscapes.
This is due to some quite big planetary processes, and the small fact that New Zealand straddles two tectonic plates. The grinding of these tectonic plates provide for one wild ride, leading to land masses rising and falling over millions of years.
When these plates shift over time and create massive changes to the landscapes of New Zealand, it brings up minerals from underground. Along with this, rising and falling sea-levels, erosion, and glacial melt expose new minerals and contribute to the unique botanicals abound. Pair all of that with the volcanic activity across New Zealand and you have a melting pot of epic natural proportions.
All of these factors have led to something called speciation -- the flora and fauna adapting to these severe changes for survival which is why many New Zealand botanicals aren’t found anywhere else in the world!
Isolation in a Good Way
For more than 80 million years, New Zealand was so isolated that it existed predator-free which gives Aotearoa such a unique indigenous natural landscape like nowhere else in the world. And is a big reason why much of plant life is endemic.
Once upon a time, New Zealand was a part of a larger landmass called Gondwanaland. Some 55 million years ago, it decided to break off and go its own way, with the closest neighbour of Australia now 2,000 kilometers away. The isolation gave plants and animals an opportunity to grow, evolve and flourish without risk of competing or being replaced by other species. With speciation, these plants forever changed from their original species without outside influence.
And even after humans barged in and disrupted said isolation, the plants proved resilient and incredibly beneficial to our lives. After all, the humble mānuka plant was once the bane of a farmer’s existence and thought of as a nuisance that wouldn’t stop coming back. Now, it is beloved and produces a powerful essential oil that can revolutionise natural skincare and our lives.
Discover New Zealand’s most special and powerful botanical and the benefits of East Cap mānuka oil today in our extensive lineup of natural antibacterial skincare products!