Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge



Things To Do

Wildlife Watching
Bird Watching


Hakalau Forest NWR was established in 1985 to protect and manage endangered Hawaiian forest birds and their rain forest habitat. Located on the windward slope of Mauna Kea, Island of Hawai‘i, the 32,733-acre Hakalau Forest Unit supports a diversity of native birds and plants equaled by only one or two other areas in the State of Hawai‘i.

Eight of the 14 native bird species occurring at Hakalau are endangered. Thirteen migratory bird species and 20 introduced species, including eight game birds, as well as the endangered ‘ope‘ape‘a (Hawaiian hoary bat) also frequent the refuge. Twenty-nine rare plant species are known from the refuge and adjacent lands. Twelve are currently listed as endangered. Two endangered lobelias have fewer than five plants known to exist in the wild.

Hakalau Forest NWR contains some of the finest remaining stands of native montane rain forest in Hawai‘i. The slopes below 4,000 feet receive very high rainfall - 250 inches annually. Bogs, fern patches, and scrubby forest dominate this area which is dissected by numerous deep gulches. Rainfall decreases to about 150 inches at elevations above 4,500 feet, where majestic koa and red-blossomed ‘ōhi‘a trees form a closed-canopy forest. Further upslope, above 6,000 feet, rainfall decreases to 100 inches or less and native forest merges into abandoned pastureland where alien grasses and weeds, introduced as forage for cattle, are the dominant vegetation. Since 1989, over 400,000 koa, ‘ōhi‘a, and other native plants have been planted in this area as part of the refuge's reforestation program.

Map of Hakalau Forest

Latitude, Longitude: 19.859400, -155.392710