Rimu is a slow-growing, evergreen tree with a straight trunk. The tallest reach up to 50 metres (164 feet) high but most are within the 20 to 35 metre (65 to 115 feet) range. They are usually found in temperate rainforests such as mixed broadleaf or podocarp forests. Being an emergent species, they eventually rise above the forest canopy to join the giants of the forest. Rimu live between 800 to 900 years on average.
They are endemic to New Zealand and exist on the three main islands of the country. Their greatest concentration is found on the the West Coast of the South Island, while the biggest examples of Rimu are found in a number of forests around Taupo. Generally speaking, rimu grow all over the North Island and Stewart Island and around the coastal regions of the South Island. The South Island's interior is often dry with large areas of sub-apline and alpine terrain.
Rimu was once a main source of wood in New Zealand and used for housing and furniture. It is now illegal to cut down rimu on public land with some limited logging on private land still happening today.