Past Events: Waitangi Week End Trip to Western Southland and the South Coast

27 Feb 2009

A combined Upper Clutha Dunedin Trip

Sixteen people met at Outautau on a fine clear morning on Waitangi Day to explore the forests and coast of Southland. Our first foray was a 4Wdrive trip to Bald Hill on the top of the Long wood Range. The first part of the trip until we reached the Porakino River was through a production forest of fir and pine, after which we climbed up through pure Southland Beech and its associated understorey. Lunch was at the quarry near the locked gate. After which it was a pleasant walk to the top to wander through the mixed tussock, kanuka, flax and dracophyllum environment. Celmisia were still in flower and the gentians were starting to do so. The views of Southland were extensive.

Next morning after spending the night in Tuatapere we drove to the Alton Burn and through the Rowellen Forest to the LillBurn This forest was a mixed Soutland beech/podocarp forest that was milled some 50-60 years ago. The then New Zealand Forest Service required that a few adult beech trees per hectare be left as seed trees after the felling. This was successful, and now we see a dense, mostly beech, forest regenerating. The under story of totara, miro, lancewood and horopito are also making strong but slower growth. While the original felling of the forest upset the whole ecology of the forest it was interesting to see how nature exerts itself given time. Stops were made to photograph patches of mistletoe which were in full flower.

Lunch we had at Lake Hauaoko in the mixed podocarp/mountain beech forest at the end of the road.

On our return down the Lillburn valley we turned off left to visit the remains of the Dean Forest, and paid a visit to the Big Totara Reserve managed by DoC. Here the many podocarps were impressive, especially so the few old totaras that escaped the axe and saw. Some of the large totaras, one reputed to be over a thousand years old, were awe inspiring. May they be left in peace.

On the Sunday we left Tuatapere behind and went around Te Wae Wae bay to visit Mulet Bay. Some climbed to the Pahia Hill Conservation Area above the bay to visit the remnants of another type of forest; this time a windswept coastal forest. Others strolled around the beach enjoying the atmosphere of a small fishing village.

After lunch we could see the weather coming in from the west heralded by flashes of lightening. We left for home, after an interesting week-end spent with pleasant and like minded people.