Trip Report to Ben Avon, Ahuriri Valley

08 Oct 2010

Trip Report to Ben Avon, Ahuriri Valley - Biodiversity Hotspot

A cold west wind was blowing down the Ahuriri valley but that did not prevent 9 hardy folk enjoying the spectacular scenery and avian wildlife on the high country valley’s various wetlands and braided river beds.

Jim Morris owner of Ben Avon Station speaks to Forest and Bird members about the Carbon project on Ben AvonWe arrived at Ben Avon Station woolshed just before 10am and shared a very interesting and companionable hour and a half with Jim Morris, owner of Ben Avon Station.   Jim explained to us the High Country Land Managers Carbon Project which is based on sample areas of Ben Avon’s native tussock and shrubland. The purpose of the project is to quantify carbon sequestration under these cover types and to measure how absence of grazing affects carbon storage. If the project shows that C sequestration improves with no grazing, this could place a whole new perspective on the management of our high country tussock and shrublands. Jim also explained that biodiversity and landscape values will be evaluated in Stage 2 of the project, which is soon to begin. If you wish to know more about the project you can contact Jim at Ben Avon or Larry Burrows at Landcare Research. The project will also soon be promoted on the ECAN website.  After our morning session we headed up Birch Creek behind the homestead to inspect stands of native beech and native shrublands, and view the recent additions to the Hawea-Ahuriri conservation lands.

mountain beech forest in Birch Our lunch was taken out on the river flats by River Cottage, an upmarket holiday house overlooking the Ben Avon Scenic Reserve wetlands and the Ahuriri river itself.  Our afternoon was spent driving slowly past the various wetlands and riverbeds on the lookout through our binoculars for black stilt, nesting dotterels and the solitary white heron Jim had told us had taken up residence in the valley. Unfortunately for us, we only saw plenty of parrys, plover, pied stilt, terns, black swan and cygnets, and harrier hawks.


bog pine on the Ben Avon river flats We ended our day out on the expansive short tussock flats – an increasingly rare and valued experience – with a visit to a solitary bog pine grove on the valley floor, which incidentally had inspired Jim to think of native shrublands instead of pine trees for C sequestration (on a large scale).

Our thanks go to Jim and his wife Marianne for hosting our visit which was much enjoyed by all.