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Trip Report – Kohekohe Loop Track, Paekakariki

Trip Report – 6 June 2015 :   Kohekohe Loop Track, Paekakariki

Our party of fifteen set off from Paekakariki in excellent weather.   We walked the first 300m of the new Te Araroa Escarpment Track, looking at Nga Uruora’s most recent plantings, and a huge selection of weeds.   Nga Uruora’s weed control focuses on eliminating the three ivies: Cape, German and English ivy, and Tradescantia.   We are eradicating Cape ivy from the northern part of the escarpment.   The German and English species are much more difficult, but Greater Wellington Regional Council is helping us.   Just beyond the picnic table we turned off up the Kohekohe Loop Track, which climbs the escarpment almost reaching Hill Road.   It takes about 50 minutes to walk round if you are not botanising.   The track was built by Nga Uruora Kapiti Project (NUKP) volunteers with a grant from the Walkways Commission.   The first part of the track passes through forest planted by NUKP in 2006-08.   Seedlings were planted in scree, and the trees are already c. 3m high.   Some were planted in stones without any soil, but have done very well.   All species were sourced locally, and grown in our two nurseries (Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki schools).   Ngaio is the most successful, other species being karamu, mahoe, and ti kouka.   These were the pioneer species.   When the plants reached about 2m, we planted kohekohe, and occasionally totara and milk trees.

Further up the Loop Track we entered kohekohe forest which is partly secondary, partly original native forest.   Possums have been trapped here since 2000, so there have been fourteen years for the kohekohe to recover – they are now flowering profusely.   The forest is dominated by kohekohe.   Other species are mahoe, tawa, ngaio, hinau, titoki, taupata, karamu, akiraho, with a sprinkling of nikau, ti kouka and karaka.   The forest floor was covered in seedlings, including kohekohe, titoki and mahoe.

On the way up we passed an original (?) kowhai with numerous seedlings.   Near the top we inspected an old kohekohe with a rata vine about 8cm dbh climbing it, and a large puka (Griselinia lucida) about 12cm dbh.   Both had very good examples of girdling roots, and the puka had distinctive grooves in its bark.   We couldn’t see any puka foliage, so relied on the bark for id.   The bark on the rata vine indicated M. fulgens or M. perforata.

Some excitement was generated by a suspected Streblus banksii leaf showing the expected shape, rounded teeth, thickness and colour.   It came from a seedling in a shady part of the forest.   Close inspection of the seedling was not conclusive.   We found that mahoe seedlings grown in the nursery have very similar leaves, with rounded teeth.   Mahoe / Melicytus ramiflorus leaves are very variable in shape, as well as teeth.   I concluded that our seedling was mahoe.

Next door to this forest, just above Hill Road, is a huge area recently retired from sheep farming.   This was Perkins Farm which stretches from the Hill Road Lookout to the top of Transmission Gully.   Nga Uruora has an agreement with the NZ Transport Agency to do pest control, weed control, and perhaps some planting on steep parts of the farm.   The long-term plan is to restore the farm to native bush.

At the highest point on the track we had lunch and enjoyed wonderful views of Kapiti Island.

Participants:   Bev Abbott, Eleanor Burton, Paul Callister (co-leader), Barbara Clark, Lorraine Cook, Michelle Dickson, Ken Fraser (leader / scribe), Chris Hopkins, Chris Horne, Winifred Maindonald, Barbara Mitcalfe, Chris Moore, Jan Nisbet, Leon Perrie, Roy Slack.


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