Southern rata is the most widespread of all New Zealand rata. It is found from sea level to 760 metres. It prefers cooler regions with high rainfall and is particularly common along the west coast of the South Island but is widespread over much of New Zealand from latitude 36° southwards.
Piano Flat is part of the Waikaia Forest which is a large island of beech forest, nestled in the mountain farmlands of northern Southland. Piano Flat provides a picnic area, camping ground and several walking tracks. It is also home to various native birds, insects, bats and deer.