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Trip Report - Makara Hill, Karori

Trip Report – 7 July 2012:   Makara Hill, Karori

Makara Hill is a Mecca for cyclists, receiving 100,000 visitors a year, and we had planned the trip realising that we would be botanising tracks officially shared with cyclists.   We had given the Makara Mountain Bike Club (MMBC) plenty of notice about our trip, but had not been told that they were having a gala on that day, so the festive atmosphere and the cacophonous music that greeted us were rather a shock to the system.

Despite this, we were impressed with the smooth organisation of it all, as timed relays of lycra-clad bodies flashed past through the mud, with friendly greetings, leaving the field for us to do our thing.   Makara Hill’s tracks vary from easy and well-graded, to deliberately difficult, in fact technical.   We had chosen Koru Track, the easiest, which provided us with a challenging selection of weeds such as several Gamochaeta species, as well as several native herbaceous species.   Among 21other native fern species trackside, was an early, sighting of two young Dicksonia fibrosa, an uncommon tree fern in the city, possibly planted.   Some of the 50 tree and shrub species we listed, were planted by MMBC members since 1998 when Wellington City Council (WCC) made the long-term ecological restoration of this Outer Green Belt site, one of the conditions of consent for its use for mountain biking.

Microlaena stipoides
Microlaena stipoides var. stipoides.   Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.
Fourteen years of supervised planting by club members have produced a young forest of mostly regionally appropriate indigenous plants with only a very few non-Wellington species, (e.g. the handsome bronze Pseudopanax discolor which we remembered from our BotSoc trip to Great Barrier Island) all of which should be removed.   Perhaps BotSoc will consider contacting the MMBC’s Conservation Leader about this.

During the day we saw the following Asplenium hybrids: Asplenium bulbiferum x A. flaccidum; Asplenium bulbiferum x A. hookerianum, and Asplenium flaccidum x A. gracillimum.   Near the summit of Koru Track, we saw one Tmesipteris elongata, the only fork-fern species found, and several patches of the native grass Microlaena stipoides var. stipoides were in dainty flower.   Scarlet rata was in flower here and there, and several large old fuchsias, saved from certain extinction only because of several years of possum control by Greater Wellington Regional Council, were just coming into leaf.

Our sightings of native birds included NZ falcon, tui, North Island kaka, riroriro, tauhou and North Island fantail.

Participants :   Gavin Dench, Bryan Halliday, Chris Hopkins, Chris Horne (co-leader), Sheena Hudson, Rodney Lewington, Barbara Mitcalfe (coleader / scribe), Sunita Singh, Wynn Udall, Carol West.


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