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Trip Report – Centennial Reserve, Miramar
Cyathea cunninghamii
Cyathea cunninghamii (gully tree fern) was uncommon.   This is a ‘juvenile’ plant, retaining some of its frond stipes in a messy skirt.   The closely related C. smithii (katote) would have a tidier skirt at this height.
Photo © Leon Perrie CC BY-NC.

Trip Report – 7 March 2015 :   Hawkins Hill area

The ridge south of the Brooklyn turbine is spectacular in good weather.   I particularly like the far-reaching views over the rugged surrounding hillsides to Cook Strait and the South Island beyond.   There are interesting plants to been seen too, but we did not get good weather, despite it being early autumn.   The hardy eleven who braved the forecast for deteriorating conditions spent the first twenty minutes sheltering in their cars at the turbine’s carpark as a heavy shower swept through.

Although the northerly was robust, a dual walking / cycling track through regenerating vegetation on the east side of the ridge offered respite.   Here we were kept busy, using a species list for a neighbouring area to assemble a new list for our route.   We alternated between low forest and open scrub, with the ‘usual suspects’ for Wellington vegetation.   However, it was pleasing to see kamahi and large manuka.   Distinguishing tree ferns was one of the issues that kept us engaged.   Amongst the hairy tree ferns, the short, green, stipes of Dicksonia fibrosa (wheki-ponga) separated it from D. squarrosa (wheki), which has long dark-brown stipes.   In the scaly tree ferns, the thin stipes of Cyathea cunninghamii (gully tree fern) separated it from C. medullaris (mamaku), but we still had the issue of distinguishing juvenile C. cunninghamii and C. smithii (katote).   The co-occurring pairs of Blechnum procerum and B. novae-zelandiae, Polystichum neozelandicum and P. oculatum, and Asplenium gracillimum and A. hookerianum also made for useful fern revision.

Nertera depressa
Nertera depressa spread over some trackside banks.
Photo © Leon Perrie CC BY-NC.

After about three hours, the rain looked ready to return, so we left the track for the road along the top of the ridge and walked back to the carpark.

Our list totalled 151 species of native and weedy vascular plants; this has been submitted to the NZPCN for possible addition to their database of species lists.

Photos of some of what we saw are available from:

We made it only about half way to our target of Hawkins Hill.   Exploring its roadside cuttings for interesting herbs will be a task for another time, hopefully with the sun out and the winds light.

Participants:   Bev Abbott, Eleanor Burton, Gavin Dench, Michelle Dickson, Jenny Dolton, Ian and Jill Goodwin, Leon Perrie (co-leader / scribe), Lara Shepherd (co-leader), Sunita Singh, Julia White.

Trip Report – 7 November 2015 :   Hawkins Hill area, revisited

During our March trip this year, we botanised the area southeast of the Brooklyn wind-turbine.   This time, our goal was to get to the radar dome on Hawkins Hill itself, which reaches 495 m above sea level.   With permission from Long Gully Station’s Steve Watson, we took a few cars through the usually locked gate near the turbine, then parked at the top of Long Gully Station road.   That left us with just a couple of kilometres to walk.

Hymenophyllum minimum
Hymenophyllum minimum, with its terminal sorus, is abundant but still easily overlooked.
Drawing by Eleanor Burton.

The banks of the cuttings along the road are home to plants not commonly seen so close to the city, e.g., Lycopodium fastigiatum, Euphrasia cuneata, Anaphalioides bellidioides, and Dracophyllum filiforme.   The tiny filmy fern, Hymenophyllum minimum, is abundant.   Lichens are numerous, with many striking forms.

We saw scattered flowering plants of Corybas macranthus, Viola cunninghamii and Geranium brevicaule.   There are reasonable numbers of Aciphylla squarrosa and Poa cita in open areas; male inflorescences of the former were abundant.

We had lunch at the radar dome, taking advantage of the shelter provided by the large walls built to protect the installation.

On the bank below us were large amounts of flowering Clematis paniculata.   To the south-east stretched the extensive area of Te Kopahou Reserve, which provides lots of opportunities for walking and botanising:   In the distance to the southwest were the Kaikoura mountains, still capped in snow.

Caladenia variegata
We saw a handful of Caladenia variegata.
Photo © Leon Perrie CC BY-NC.

Corybas macranthus
Corybas macranthus was spotted on a couple of roadside banks.
Photo © Leon Perrie CC BY-NC.

The weather was fine, but the northerly was very strong.   So for the return trip, most of us took the ‘Barking emu’ walking / cycling track that sidles along, below the ridge, to the east of the road.   Interesting finds along here were the orchid Caladenia variegatus and the fern Botrychium biforme.

Photos of some of what we saw are available online at:

Botrychium biforme
The parsley fern Botrychium biforme was an unexpected find, along the walking / cycling track to the east of the road along the ridge.
Photo © Leon Perrie CC BY-NC.

Poa cita
Poa cita and Aciphylla squarrosa (several inflorescences visible) do not mind the area’s strong winds.
Photo © Leon Perrie CC BY-NC.

Participants:   Helen Bichan, Eleanor Burton, Gavin Dench, Michele Dickson, Pat Enright, Ian Goodwin, Jill Goodwin, Bryan Halliday, Chris Hopkins, Chris Horne, Rodney Lewington, Pat McLean, Barbara Mitcalfe, Mike Orchard, Mick Parsons, Leon Perrie (co-leader / scribe), Lara Shepherd (co-leader), Sunita Singh, Julia White, Kate Zwartz.


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