Kahikatea is endemic to New Zealand. They grow upwards to 55 metres (180 feet) and have a trunk diameter of around one meter. Kahikatea are an emergent species as they eventually emerge out of the canopy of the surrounding forest. The trunk is buttressed at the base to provide support in the wetlands and lowland forests where it grows.
For Māori, the Kahikatea's wood was used for spears and soot from burning the wood supplied a pigment for tattooing.