The East Harbour hills have a history of varied land use and localised wild fire, which is reflected in areas of regenerating native forest and gorse on the margins of the park. Further inland, the open beech forest on the ridges and drier sites is complemented by conifer and broadleaf trees in the gullies and valleys, especially rimu, miro, matai and kahikatea.
Once widespread in the park but extensively damaged through logging and possum browsing, northern rata has been helped to recover by the MIRO group in association with Greater Wellington. The northern rata trees inland from Lowry Bay and Days Bay are mostly terrestrial (seeds germinate on the ground) rather than epiphytic (where they start to grow in host trees), which is the more usual form of rata.
The park also features a wide range of native orchids, with usually at least one flowering in any one month.
Please do not remove or damage any native plants.
There is a wide range of birdlife in the forest due to the variety of habitat. The falcon, popokatea (whitehead) and kereru are nationally threatened species that you may see in the park along with the more common bush birds such as tui and pïwakawaka (fantail).
Further south, the steep hillsides and pasture of the Pencarrow Coast are slowly regenerating with manuka and kanuka starting to overtake the gorse. Despite being exposed to heavy southerly swells and winds, the dunes and ridges of the raised gravel beach support several threatened plant species such as leafless muehlenbeckia and sea holly. Variable oystercatcher and banded dotterel also breed and live on the coast. Please keep your dog on a leash and do not take it south of the sea level Pencarrow lighthouse.
At the foot of Cameron Creek and Gollans Stream, the nationally important Lakes Kohangapiripiri and Kohangatera were once tidal inlets, but over time wave action and earthquakes have raised the foreshore and created barrier bars to the sea. Draining slowly through the gravel, the lakes now support a rich succession of wetland vegetation, including oioi (jointed wire rush) and glasswort closer to the sea, and raupo, toetoe, flax and giant umbrella sedge further inland. The lakes and surrounding habitat also shelter breeding colonies of black shag, Australasian bittern, New Zealand dabchick, spotless crake, pukeko and pied stilt.