The reserve was completely forested in pre-human times but, as with much of Banks Peninsula, the forest cover was severely reduced, especially after European settlement. The transformation from open pasture and gorse to native vegetation has occurred rapidly. The reserve includes 20 walking tracks open to the public, including part of the Banks Peninsula Track.
One-third of the reserve was burnt on 13 July 2011, possibly due to a lightning strike. In 2017 the Hinewai newsletter reported that there was hardly anything noticeable left. The gorse regrew and so did native shrubs and trees 
- Cronshaw, Tim (22 February 2008). "Return of the Natives". The Press. Cite has empty unknown parameter:
- "Hinewai Reserve recovers". The Press. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
- Wilson, Hugh (1994). "Regeneration of native forest on Hinewai Reserve, Banks Peninsula". New Zealand Journal of Botany. 32 (3): 373–383. doi:10.1080/0028825x.1994.10410480. Cite has empty unknown parameter:
- Pīpipi. Maurice White Native Forest Trust. ISSN 1173-6674. Missing or empty
- "Peninsula native bush reserve ablaze". The Press. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- "Following fire" (PDF). Pipipi. 3 August 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2020.