A crowdfunding campaign to save a block of pristine wetland forest in Taranaki is within a whisker of reaching its target.
The Native Forest Restoration Trust is aiming to raise $500,000 to buy - and then preserve - the 133 hectare block for public use.
It is just $34,000 short of its mark after a year of fundraising.
Nestled next to Egmont National Park, between the Waiwhakaiho River and the Kaiauai Stream in north Taranaki, the block is a rare example of lowland wetland forest.
Under pressure from agriculture, it is an ecosystem acutely threatened in Taranaki where it makes up less that 10 percent of the total land mass.
Amateur photographer Tony Green, 68, is a regular visitor and has donated to the cause.
He said the forest was teeming with life.
"It's so quiet, so easy to walk on. You can stop and see things. Just take your time and enjoy it," Mr Green said.
"I come up here just to get some peace away from town and even on a wet day you just see so much birdlife and see so much plant life in here," he said.
"There's so much fruit growing on the trees. It's a continuous smorgasbord for the birds."
Mr Green had photographed whio, North Island robin or toutouwai, grey warbler or riroriro and New Zealand falcon or kārearea in the block.
Its gentle grade would make it attractive to visitors once it was opened to the public, he said.
"It's places like this that are easily accessible that will get the less fit, the less able out and about. You go up the mountain and you go for an hour and you're absolutely shattered," he said.
"I could spend all day in here every day just wandering around quietly and you don't get tired it's so easy to walk on, it's so easy to find things."
Contractor and farmer Greg Clement currently owns the land.
He said the approach for it came out of the blue.
"We were approached by the QE II (National Trust) guys to do something with it. To give it to them," Mr Clement said.
"And we said 'well we can't really afford that' and between them, the regional council, and the New Plymouth District Council, they came up with the Native Forest Restoration Trust and they approached us and we worked out a deal that was good for both of us and it's going to be looked after now."
Mr Clement who had since helped fence the block said selling was a no-brainer.
"Yeah, we think it's great to see the bush actually being used and people coming and seeing the trees and the kids amongst it all. It's great, fabulous," he said.
"It's all very well saying there is plenty of bush around but you can't get to a lot of it. It's too hard, hard steep horrible country whereas this is very approachable, easy to get into."
Native Forest Restoration Trust manager Sandy Crichton said Mr Clement cut the trust a generous deal.
Wetlands were becoming increasingly rare which made saving the block all the more important, Mr Crichton said.
"It's a lowland forest that sits on flood deposits and wetlands are just so important. They provide a vital function to the ecosystem by cleaning the water that flows into them and they provide habitat for the greatest concentration of wildlife of any habitat in New Zealand."
The trust had been blown away by the support it had received, including a $250,000 from Auckland couple Ray and Jan Lowe, Mr Crichton said.
But Mr Crichton warned the last few thousand dollars could be the most difficult to raise.
"Yes we're confident and we're hopeful and looking forward to reaching the total, but it's often that last bit when everybody kinda goes 'well it's done now' and it's not. We're not quite there," he said.
"I think it's about $34,000 that we still have to go so it's within reach."
The trust wanted to build an accessible loop track through the block, which would be known as the Mahood-Lowe Reserve, and hoped to open it to the public next year, Mr Crichton said.