What is Mānuka Oil?

Mānuka oil is what is known as an essential oil. Essential oils generally come from nature. Examples you might have heard of are lavender, rosemary, geranium, sage, peppermint and rosewater. They contain the essence of a plant in compounds which are found in that plant. For example, lavinool is a compound found in lavender, so the essence of lavender, its essential aroma, its particular plant agents, are found in distilled lavender oil.

Mānuka Oil is made from mānuka tī trees, whose leaves are sharp and pointed and with feathery, leathery bark and fairly thin boughs and branches.
By applying steam to the leaves of mānuka, we get the oil in the sacs in the leaves to vaporise. We then cool the gaseous mānuka oil down until it condenses, and is in liquid form. However, we need to use a distillation process, because oil has a different boiling temperature than water.
Mānuka oil is used for kiri (skin) care. It is high in leptospermone, a compound found in the plant species leptospermum scoparium (New Zealand Mānuka). It nourishes your skin with long chain fatty acids, helps maintain skin pH balance, and it is extremely valuable.

We maintain a separation between Mānuka Oil and our other products, as it is a very special product. Mānuka Oil is sold in 10ml bottles at the moment.
So you must be wondering where is it found? It turns out, just about everywhere!

Mānuka is found throughout New Zealand. It is highly adaptable and it can be found from the coast up to an altitude of a thousand metres and in a broad range of climatic conditions. It can tolerate high winds, poor soils and harsh environments, such as the Rangipo Desert in Tongariro National Park. It can forge roots in precarious cliffs but also be found in swampy wetlands.

It is more easily found between October and April, because this is when it flowers. It can almost appear as if the bush has a thin coating of snow.

At Aotea, we source our Mānuka on Aotea (Great Barrier Island). The plant grows as abundantly there as it does in other parts of the country, such as the East Cape and the Nelson region. It had a reputation among early settlers as a useless, scrubland weed, due to its incredible growth rate and hardiness. However, that reputation couldn’t be further from the truth, as it has come to represent one of our most highly prized national commodities.

After we harvest our Mānuka, we most commonly distill the plant matter in our oil distillery. This involves setting a high enough temperate to volatilise the water but not the oil compounds.

However, the word Mānuka also refers to Mānuka honey. The production process for harvesting honey is a little bit different. We have to extract honey from the hives with great care, paying attention to the welfare of bees.

Using manuka in our products is special to us as it gives us a unique New Zealand flavour. Beyond the image, we are using a plant with such a wide variety of uses, it is hard not to wonder at it.