Hinau is a tall forest tree to 18–20 m with a trunk to 1 m in diameter, and
rough, greyish bark. The long and narrow leaves are 12 cm long by 3 cm wide and have stout stalks up to 25 mm long. The leaves have characteristic domatia
pits along the midrib and vein junction on the underside of the leaf. The greenish-white flowers droop in racemes, up to 15 cm long.
The characteristic purplish drupes, 15 mm in diameter, look similar to an
olive. The fruit has a hard, dry skin without much pulp.
Hinau occurs in lowland forests in both main islands from near North
Cape south to the Catlins River in Otago.