Lunch time on Rock Peak
Eight keen botanists visited Rock Peak on a beautiful Saturday to seek out the locally uncommon Hebe scopulorum, a shrub known only from the limestone peaks from the Waitomo region. Thomas Emmitt led us through the private farm track and up to the peak. After descending to the river bottom following a farm track, we meandered our way to the top of the peak following a loosely defined track. The lower slopes were regenerating forest, but the higher we climbed the forest became more mature, where large tawa, hinau, and some rimu dominated the canopy. We compiled a species list, which will be posted at a later date. We also saw Asplenium lyallii, a limestone specialist, on the outcrop. It was a great day in the bush with good company and beautiful plants.
Daniel and Kara enjoy the view
Hebe scopulorum growing on limestone
Hebe scopulorum on limestone at Rock Peak, near Kawhia
Today thirteen botsoc members and two from the Port Waikato Beach Care group gathered at the wild west coast beach of Port Waikato to botanize the dunes at the mouth of the Waikato River. The day began with a 40 minute walk along the beach to the end of the spit where we stopped only to peruse an old dead seal. We started at the far end as the dunes are younger and have few exotic species. Catherine Beard, the trip leader, gave us a rundown on the amazingly hardy native sand grass, spinifex (Spinifex sericeus) which dominated this end of the dunes. Tauhinu (Ozothamnus leptophyllus), sand wind grass (Lachnagrostis billardierei subsp. billardierei) and knobby clubrush (Ficinia nodosa) were also present amongst the spinifex dunes.
Botanising spinifex dunes at Port Waikato
During lunch, Karen Opie from Port Waikato Beach Care filled us in on the birds that frequent the dunes and the work they have been doing to protect them. One of the most exciting recent events for them was a visit from several fairy tern whose current population is only c. 40 birds in New Zealand.
In the afternoon we headed towards some of the most mobile dunes where there were several populations of pingao, classified as At Risk-Declining on the most recent NZ threatened plant list.
Pingao at Port Waikato
The day ended with a walk back through the dune slacks, and a viewing of the Port Waikato Beach Care restoration planting. Thanks to Catherine and Karen for a great day out.