January 2011


To call it an “odyssey” is, without question, embellishing slightly, given that it was less than a day. But today, I had the great privilege to travel to the West Coast (Hokitika and Greymouth) for work reasons, and although our time there was regrettably brief, I relished every moment of this beautiful, complex and historically rich landscape. [Photo above: A solitary kahikatea standing by the roadside just before the entrance to the Hokitika Gorge Scenic Reserve (click here to view approximate location).] (more…)

An after-dinner drive today led to a fascinating discovery. My husband and I drove up Otaki Gorge Road [click here to view map], a beautiful scenic road that follows the Otaki River up towards its source in the Tararua Ranges. In many places there are stands of totara which some past landowner with some foresight decided to spare from the scourge of milling and burning that destroyed all trace of most of the other plains forest.* (more…)

In Nga UruoraEcology and History in a New Zealand Landscape (Chapter 3 – “The Riverbend”), Geoff Park tells the history of the riverine forests of Mokau, a river which flows from its source in the forest on the slopes of the Rangitoto Ranges, out to sea at the Taranaki Bight, just north of the boundary between Taranaki and Waikato [click here to view map]. Here is one of the very few places left in the North Island where coastal forest remains intact down to the sea. (more…)

An article in the New Zealand Listener by Rebecca Macfie is entitled “Nature ground zero” and describes an initiative in Canterbury to give “a new lease of life” to “the devastated native flora of the Canterbury Plains” [click here to read article]. The initiative is to identify and encourage the reintroduction of indigenous plant species which provide “ecosystem services” such as the provision of pollen and nectar to attract beneficial insects, improved soil health, weed suppression, the control of pest insects, and greater biodiversity. The project is focused on the Waipara Valley of Northern Canterbury, which is renowned for its vineyards, but has potential to be applied across Canterbury. (more…)

A view of the Hemi Matenga hills, which overlook the town of Waikanae, taken from Elizabeth Street, eastern Waikanae. Low morning cloud shrouds the hills, threatening rain, and creating a sense of drama and mystique. (more…)

This dilapidated shed, on Wallaceville Road, south of Upper Hutt [click here to view location], has now come to serve a purpose beyond its original one of a wool shed – a protest banner against 1080. (more…)

Today, the Akatarawa Road between Waikanae and the Upper Hutt provides a beautiful scenic route through rugged native forest and forestry country, with views across the valley out to sea [click here to view location]. The road largely follows the Akatarawa River, which joins the Hutt River north of Upper Hutt. (more…)

This landscape was taken from Mangaone South Road, Reikorangi [click here to view map]. Mangaone South Road largely follows the Waikanae River as it makes its way from the western foothills of the Tararua Ranges out to sea. In this shot, pasture-covered hills can be seen in the foreground, while regenerating bush-clad hills can be seen in the background. (more…)

Though I am not entirely sure what it is, there is something about the landscape south of Wanganui that I find quite alluring: perhaps the sculpted curves of the hilly terrain, which is largely pasture, but scattered with clusters of indigenous bush. My attraction to this landscape was explored in another post Drama and history in a southern Wanganui farmscape. This photo was taken just south of the southern Wanganui town of Turakina [click here to view location]. (more…)

Following on from the post on the environmental history of Lower Hutt/Petone – the valley of disappointment, this post focuses on the Upper Hutt area, and in particular, the history of the river. This post is in response to a special request by one of envirohistory NZ‘s readers; one of a group of Upper Hutt Valley residents who are concerned about the effects of an application to lower the minimum flow of the Hutt River. (more…)

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