Looking west along Wakefield Street towards Te Papa. The Pōhutukawa trees in flower ... Maori legend says that if they flower ... dark red spikey flowers .... early it will be a long hot summer ... "let us believe" The Majestic building is the tall one in the background at the end of the street.
Have a look at Auckland Daily Photo for a great photo of a mature tree at Snells Beach
The Pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) is a coastal evergreen tree of the myrtle family that produces a brilliant display of red flowers made up of a mass of stamens. The Pōhutukawa is one of twelve Metrosideros species endemic to New Zealand.
The tree grows up to twenty metres in height, with a dome-like spreading form. Its natural range is the coastal regions of the North Island of New Zealand, north of a line stretching from New Plymouth (39° S) to Gisborne (38° S). It also grows on the shores of lakes in the Rotorua area. A giant Pōhutukawa at Te Araroa on the East Coast is reputed to be the largest in the country, with a height of 20 metres and a spread of 38 metres. The tree is renowned as a cliff-dweller, able to maintain a hold in precarious, near-vertical situations. Some specimens have matted, fibrous aerial roots. Like its Hawaiian relative the Ōhi a lehua (M. polymorpha), the Pōhutukawa has shown itself to be efficient in the colonisation of lava fields, notably on Rangitoto Island, a volcano in Auckland Harbour.
The Pōhutukawa flowers from November to January with a peak in mid to late December, with brilliant crimson flowers covering the tree, hence the nickname New Zealand Christmas Tree. There is variation between individual trees in the timing of flowering, and in the shade and brightness of the flowers. In isolated populations genetic drift has resulted in local variation: many of the trees growing around the Rotorua lakes produce pink-shaded flowers, and the yellow-flowered cultivar "Aurea" descends from a pair discovered in 1940 on Mōtiti Island in the Bay of Plenty.