Friday, 27 January 2023 at 6:00 PM to Sunday, 29 January 2023 at 6:00 PM
Organisers: Joe Dillon, Colan Balkwill
Welly's Hungry Botanist (Joe Dillon - our resident extraordinaire of most things chlorphytic) is looking to run a trip to the Taruarua tops between Powell and Jumbo huts this summer. The idea is to look for a tiny population of tiny plants which grows nowhere else on Earth, spending two nights in Powell/Jumbo and a full day looking at the most diminutuve and easily missed organic details as we go. We'll also gladly put names to the bigger leafy faces you've walked past a million times, and maybe even chew on a few supplejack shoots.
The plan: Two nights
The first day: - Start walking up to Powell Hutt as early as possible (~10am) up the Gentle Annie. This usually takes 5-6 hours, but we’ll go pretty slowly, maximizing the sun hours to see as many plants as possible. Ferns, mosses, and liverworts are amazingly abundant in the beech forest section here, so we’ll do lots of looking at them. I’ll bring a handlense so I can show people how to tell the difference between some particularly tiny ones. This is also peak time for many orchid species that like beech forests. Near the top, we’ll be looking carefully for Myrsine umbricola, a shrub whose entire world population is within the beech forest about 5ha around Powell Hut.
The second day: - We’ll try to leave around 9am from Powell, but it only takes ~3-4 hours to get to Jumbo so we can be pretty leniant. We’ll start by ascending toward Holdsworth peak, looking for five plants that are only found in the alpine area of the Tararua Ranges (Euphrasia drucei; a tiny parasitic plant with a gorgeous white flower, Veronica evenosa; a species of hebe only found between Powell and Mitre, Aciphylla dissecta; a beautiful little speargrass, Raoulia rubra; an incredibly well-adapted plant known as a ‘vegetable sheep’, and lastly Wahlenbergia pygmaea tararua; a minute plant with blue and white flowers which as far as I’ve found has no publicly available photos). These and many other fantastic alpine plants should be in full flower around late January, so we’d be crazy to miss them. This part is best taken very slowly, I’d be keen for us to get as many photos as humanly possible, which can be put on iNaturalist after we’ve done as a way of contributing to science.
The third day: - We’ll leave via to Atiwhakatu track which goes through some nice beech forest. We won’t have many time constraints, so we can go as fast or as slow as we want. We’ll aim to be back in Wellington well before sundown.
More details to follow!
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