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Trip Report - Moonshine – Whakatikei River

Trip Report – 8 June 2013:   Moonshine – Whakatikei River

Melicope simplex
Melicope simplex.   Photo:   Jeremy Rolfe.
We twenty botanists/naturalists (not to be confused with naturists) travelled to the Upper Hutt section of the Hutt River valley to botanise the Riverstone Terraces bush walk.   Starting near the bottom of Kirton Drive, just north of SH2’s Moonshine Bridge, we soon slowed to a crawl, as we checked off plants on the list prepared during a recce.   Being fairly new to BotSoc trips, I find it amusing that as soon as we start we virtually stop.   A few metres along, under black beech and hard beech, we located one of the highlights, Coprosma linariifolia.   From there we followed the gentle river terrace track through a mosaic of small-leaved shrubs including Melicope simplex and Coprosma rotundifolia, among trees such as pokaka, hinau, white maire and matai.

We entered forest with tawa and titoki in the canopy, and tree ferns in the understorey.   Beyond here it was wet enough to host a lone pukatea and swamp maire.   As we continued, some members donned protective clothing for the ensuing autopsy of the only Lophomyrtus obcordata, murdered, I presume, by someone trying to redirect SH2 through our walking track.   We had lunch on a grassy terrace overlooking most of Upper Hutt; maybe the last time a public group will be able to sit here, before this land is covered in housing.

After the break, we headed down to the stony river flats where the group splintered into sub-groups, making it hard to keep track of what was going on.   I followed the pack on the river flats, while the sensible group stayed on the original river terrace, while others presumably headed home, unsure of where anyone was.   The river-flats pack emerged back on the river terrace where there was a refreshing patch of beech forest.   From there it was the final leg down to where the Whakatikei River meets the Hutt River.   One of the last finds was a small Carmichaelia odorata on the bank of the Whakitikei.   On the way back we went down a side track towards the Hutt River, walking through a rocky chasm, probably created by movement on the nearby Wellington Fault that runs near the western bank of the Hutt River.   I found the geology of the terraces fascinating, walking along part of the zone in which tectonic movements have shaped the Wellington region for millennia, and will continue to do so in future.

Participants :   Barbara Clark, Rosemary Collier, Rae Collins, Laura De la Rosa, Gavin Dench, Ian Goodwin, Chris Hopkins, Chris Horne, Priscilla Isaacs, Rodney Lewington, Pat McLean, Chris Moore, Syd Moore, Mick Parsons, Leon Perrie, Grant Roberts, Nick Saville (leader / scribe), Sunita Singh, Darea Sherratt, Roy Slack.


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