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Trip Report – Horoeka Scenic Reserve, Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt

Trip Report – 3 September 2016 :   Horoeka Scenic Reserve, Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt

We had planned to botanise the entire Tawhai Street Reserve track, then tracks in Horoeka Scenic Reserve.   Following a recce, we decided to concentrate on Horoeka Scenic Reserve, and botanise briefly in Tawhai Street Reserve, and thus avoid its steep sections.   The scenic location, easy access and gradients, would be beneficial for new members, along with the numerous species in diverse situations of wet gullies and drier, sunny, corners.   Four participants were on their first WBS trip.

Notogrammitis heterophylla

Notogrammitis heterophylla at Horoeka Scenic Reserve.
Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.

A background to the reserve appeared in the September 2012 trip report, when BotSoc joined the Friends of Horoeka Scenic Reserve.   The property was once owned by Mr P & Mrs J Waddington, who protected it in perpetuity with a QEII Open Space Covenant, naming it Te Oranga Whenua.   Phil Waddington developed the DOC200 rat / stoat traps, with the “Waddington Trigger”, as a result of his trap-design trials here.   The property was later sold to Hutt City Council (HCC), and gazetted as Scenic Reserve.

The Friends of Horoeka Scenic Reserve do weeding and trapping work, monitoring c. 200 traps: DOC150, DOC200 and Timms traps.   They catch mostly rats, but possum numbers have risen a little this year, and recently they caught a weasel.   They cut and poison Darwin’s barberry and gorse, and deal with isolated patches of montbretia and tradescantia.   HCC poisons wild cherry and pine more than two tree-lengths from tracks.   We saw a few Pinus radiata seedlings.   A small infestation of chocolate vine / Akebia quinata has been recorded, and is being controlled by HCC.   The entrance to the reserve has been attractively planted and upgraded in recent months.

Notogrammitis pseudociliata

Notogrammitis pseudociliata.
Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.

A background to the reserve appeared in the September 2012 trip report, when BotSoc joined the Friends of Horoeka Scenic Reserve.   The property was

In the last fifteen years, BotSoc has botanised the reserve three times, so we did not expect to make many additions to the species lists.   Observant eyes added the following: Nertera depressa, Notogrammitis heterophylla, N. pseudociliata, which was considered the day’s most interesting, and Hymenophyllum franklinii.

We added the following weeds: Spanish heath / Erica lusitanica, English ivy / Hedera helix, and one plant of the fern, Cretan brake / Pteris cretica near the entrance.

We saw backen climbing high into trees not far in from the entrance, and abundant kahikatea seedlings were most noticeable in this area also.   In the little gullies, a few carpets of dense kidney fern / Hymenophyllum nephrophyllum ground-cover looked healthy.   We saw one Syzygium maire / swamp maire.   In other drier places, some very large kanuka up to c. 40cm d.b.h., towered above.   A surprise on one bend is the little “Fairy House” built by the Waddingtons, at the base of a hard beech.

At the main lunch spot by a seat, we saw Thelymitra longifolia.   Soon after Jeremy headed off to examine a gully to the east of the track, while the rest continued the short loop track down on a dry spur, where Gahnia setifolia, G. pauciflora and G. xanthocarpa were compared.   The seeds of a G. pauciflora were sucked for the raspberry-like flavour.

Gahnia xanthocarpa

Gahnia xanthocarpa.
Illustration: Eleanor Burton.

White and red fruits of Leptecophylla juniperina provided extra subject material for photographers.

Tawhai St Reserve

Eleven members then botanised the Tawhai St track’s lower part, running near the stream.   The location is very moist and quite dark, with numerous mamaku under large, mature, hard beech.   At the entrance is a patch of tradescantia near the stream.   In the forest proper, an obvious difference is the presence of Blechnum filiforme, not seen in Horoeka Scenic Reserve.   The main reason for this foray was to see the filmy fern, Hymenophyllum flexuosum.

Participants : Eleanor Burton & ‘Mackie’, Gavin Dench, Michele Dickson (co-leader), Carolyn Dimattina, Jenny Fraser, Jeremy Garret-Walker, Catriona Gower, Richard Grasse, Chris Hopkins, Chris Horne, Donna Kennedy, Alexandra McCulloch, Pat McLean, David Martin, Barbara Mitcalfe, Mick Parsons, Leon Perrie, Jeremy Rolfe, Lara Shepherd, Karin Sievwright, Sunita Singh (co-leader), Ianto Stevens, John Van den Hoeven.


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