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Volume 42, 1909
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Art. III.—Botanical Notes made on a Journey across the Tararuas.*

[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 1st September, 1909.]

The portion of the Tararua Range treated of in this narrative may be viewed from Wellington, stretching beyond the Upper Hutt Valley. At the southern end is seen the rounded outline of Mount Marchant (3,406 ft.) followed, more to the north, by three much lower conical-topped hills then a conical mountain stands out nearer the beholder than the conical hills, and on a level with Mount Marchant. The Quoin (3,905 ft.), the

[Footnote] * Some of the information contained in this account is drawn from experience acquired on trips other than those herein described. Cnronologically enumerated, the author's acquaintance with these mountains is derived from—(1) A three-days trip to Mount Holdsworth with Professor Easterfield, D. L. Cockayne, and Mr. A. H. Cockayne in January, 1906; (2) a three-days solitary ramble on Mount Dennan and in the Otaki Gorge, in December, 1906; (3) a three-days ascent of Mount Hector from Otaki, in January, 1907, with Messrs. D. Petrie, A. Hamilton, J. S. Tennant, W. C. Davies, and Alfred Jones; (4) a three-days journey on Mount Holdsworth, in March, 1907, with Messrs G. de S. Baylis and Turners (two); (5) three days on Mount Holdsworth with Messrs D. Petrie and J. S. Tennant, in January, 1908; (6) the crossing of the range here described (7) a two-days trip up the Hutt Gorge with Mr. John Cnilwell, in November, 1908; (8) a partial ascent of Mount Dennan with Messrs. C. O'Connor and Simmonds, at Easter 1909; (9) an ascent of the Quoin, via the ridge, in June, 1909, with Mr. E. Phillips Turner

[Footnote] Since writing this paper the author, with Mr. W. H. Field, M.P., and Mr. L. Phillips, of Kaitoke, on 12th February, 1910, crossed form Kaitoke to Otaki Gorge settlement in twenty-four hours actual walking-time, the journey occupying, including the time taken for sleep, only thirty-six hours. The Kaitoke ridge track was followed, the route otherwise being as described above. The high levels were obscured by mist which, however, occasionally lifted. Abundance of water was found, as before.

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southern termination of a high range leading to Mount Hector, is not discernible in the outline of hills, being overtopped and rendered invisible by Mount Alpha (4,466 ft.). Finally, after a fairly level stretch of country, there succeed a few ragged peaks, near which is the remarkable razorback ridge (to be presently described) overshadowed by Mount Hector (5,014 ft.), the highest peak which can be seen. Descending on the Otaki side there are some rounded summits (4,700 ft.), and at a much lower elevation Mount Dennan (4,010 ft.). Below this is a saucer-shaped depression (“Table Top”) rising on the Otaki side to a rounded knob, the last peak silhouetted against the sky.

The writer cannot find any record of a collector or naturalist having crossed the range from Kaitoke to Otaki. Indeed, even Mount Hector would appear not to have been botanically explored until December, 1906 (see Petrie, “Account of a Visit to Mount Hector”: Trans. N.Z. Inst., 1907, p. 289), when the writer made his first collection there.

Leaving Wellington by the 7 a.m. train on Boxing Day, 1907, Kaitoke is reached about 9 a.m. The day is fine—a light breeze from the north-east, blue sky with patches of cloud, and a barometer of 30.4 in., giving presage of fair weather for the venture. The party consists of Mr. Alfred Jones (an expert bushman), W. B. Aston, and the writer. The swags include 5 lb. boiled beef, 3 lb. ham, 5 lb. ship-biscuits, a small loaf, 2 lb. oatmeal, 2 lb. sugar, ¾ lb. butter, a little tea, chocolate, and raisins, collecting-boxes, drying-papers, a blanket each, and a tent. The tent is worthy of a brief description. It weighs under 4 lb.—dimensions 5 ½ ft. by 7 ½ ft.,—and includes a flexible wire rope used instead of a ridge-pole. One end of the rope is fixed to a tree, and the other is threaded through the apex of the tent-roof and fixed to another tree. All that now remains is to fasten the guy-ropes, made of light fishing-line, to stumps, &c., near the ground, and peg down the sides. The advantage of having a light and easily pitched tent such as this in climbing-expeditions, where everything has to be carried on one's back, can hardly be overstimated. The tent is made by Messrs. Hutcheson, Wilson, and Co., Jervois Quay, and is similar to those supplied to the Tourist Department for alpine climbers, with the exception that it has no floor. The material is that of which the fine topsails of yachts are made, technically known as japarra—an Egyptian fabric.

At least three routes are open to the explorer of the Tararuas from Kaitoke. The Mount Marchant track involves climbing the bare ridge connecting the Rimutakas with the Tararua Range, and following the spur over Mount Marchant, thence taking a large sweep to the north-east over many lesser tops on the high range by a track marked on the map “well blazed” to Mount Omega (3,669 ft.), between which and Mount Alpha (4,466 ft.) there remains a deep valley to be crossed before attaining the high leading range of which Mount Hector is the culminating point. The writer is informed that it is not necessary to climb to the top of Mount Marchant, but that the spur may be attained on the farther side by a passage through the bush on the north-east flank of the mountain.

The second and third routes are the same with the difference that the first few miles is over a spur—four hours' walk—or through the river gorge—nine and a half hours' walk—at the traveller's discretion, to the junction of the Main Hutt with the Lesser Hutt River. The spur route is always available, and is remarkably easy travelling, through dead standing bush which was swept by the fires of last year and completely denuded of under-

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scrub. One should take the hill at the back of Phillips's hut (650 ft.), near the mouth of the Pakuratahi Gorge, and, steering due magnetic north, two and a half hours' walk on the ridge brings one to the summit of the hill (2,000 ft.), where Mount Marchant looms largely ahead, and the lower slopes of the Quoin are seen on the left in the angle formed by the junction of the rivers. The Lesser Hutt Gorge is from this aspect visible for a considerable distance. Descending the hill, still through burnt standing timber, another one and a half hours' walk should bring one to the base of the Quoin.

The gorge route, on the other hand, takes at least nine hours' laborious walking, the times taken on the two occasions the writer traversed the route being nine hours and a half and nine hours and a quarter from Kaitoke to the junction; and it is not accessible if the river is in flood. The advantages of going this way are the beautiful scenery, the impossibility of mistaking the way, and the facility for studying the various forms of life met with in the forests of the banks and in the unfished waters of the rivers.

Crossing, to the north of the Kaitoke Station, some flat country where agriculture is being practised, judging by the Californian thistle, blackberry, and gorse which impeded progress, the Pakuratahi Gorge is soon reached, and little time is lost in finding the track, which leads off from behind a blue cliff-face on the south side of the river. Numerous shapely ribbonwood-trees (Plagianthus betulinus), which always attain their finest growth on silty alluvial soil, are observed growing on the flats. The track is excellent, and leads through a very mixed forest, of which the plants noted in the appended list are observed.

After a mile or so of this track the forest undergoes a distinct change. Red-beech (Fagus fusca) is now the predominant growth—in fact, it is almost the only tree-growth, being supplemented only to a slight extent by miro (Podocarpus ferrugineus). The underscrub consists of Coprosma Colensoi, Griselinia littoralis, Leucopogon fasciculatus, Coprosma grandifolia, Pseudopanax crassifolium, Myrsine salicina, Panax arboreum, Coprosma fœtidissima, Myrtus pedunculata, and Metrosideros florida, while the forest-flor is covered with Gahnia, Gleichenia Cunninghamii (umbrellafern), and moss. Here and there on stumps are patches of the beautiful Earina mucronata, the blue-berried Dianella intermedia, and a variety of ferns, mostly kidney-ferns (Trichomanes reniforme). The tree-trunks are covered with climbing ratas (Metrosideros hypericifolia and M. Colensoi), epiphytic growths, filmy ferns, polypodies, asteliads, Tmesipteris, and orchids (Earina mucronata and E. suaveolens).

The path wanders for some distance through this light open forest, and then descends suddenly to the junction of the Pakuratahi and Hutt Rivers. Here the steep banks are sprinkled with bright flowering shrubs and herbs. Prominent are Carmichaelia odorata, with masses of sweetly scented purpleblue flowers and graceful pendulous branches, while Veronica catarractœ, Gnaphalium Keriense, Oxalis magellanica, Pratia angulata, and Libertia ixioides brighten the steep mossy banks with their large white flowers.

The forest is thicker here, and the spaces are well filled with scrub and small trees. Rimu and kamahi (Weinmannia) are the prevailing trees, with a shrubbery of Fuchsia, Pittosporum, Veronica salicifolia, Schefflera, and Coprosma; and along the banks the free-flowering Olearia nitida, toitoi (Arundo conspicua), and wood-grass (Microlœna avenacea) are plentiful, and a few patches of snow-grass (Danthonia Cunninghamii).

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A walk of an hour and a half brings one from the Kaitoke Station to this charming spot, where but a couple of years ago was pitched a survey camp, by the work of whose vanished tenants one wishing to advance into the wilds may largely profit.

Crossing the Pakuratahi, we soon leave all vestige of a track behind and plunge up the Hutt River. Here and there blazes on the trees are met with, and occasionally one comes across a track cut over the bluff forming one of the walls of some impassable gorge between which the waters rush as through a mill-sluice. The river bends with monotonous frequency, which necessitates incessant crossing to take advantage of the shingle-bank or rocky ledge on the opposite side, in order to gain a few chains advnce; thus, sometimes wading up to one's middle, scrambling over slippery rocks, hanging on by bough, tussock, or pendant kiekie (Freycinetia), always striving to keep the food and blankets, strapped shoulder-high, dry, slow progress is made. Anon one of the party slips from the rock into some deep pool, and the water surges round the knapsack; but the biscuits, contained in a tin case, are safe, and the victim slowly and laboriously draws himself out of the swift current, and drains himself on the bank. Occasionally the spirit of sport asserts itself, and a halt is called to watch some monster of a trout or eel, the solitary inhabitant of a deep pool, lazily disporting himself.

The rock scenery of the gorges is truly grand. Cut into fantastic shapes by the current when in flood, here and there a mass of rock which has survived the eroding force of the river stands out in bold relief, often with some narrow defile for a background, through which the river rushes with deafening surge. Pockets and pot-holes in the rock hold a lodgment of silty soil, supporting many beautiful plants. Prominent is Carmichaelia odorata, Veronica catarractœ (well named), Microlœna avenacea, Pratia angulata, Hydrocotyle sp., Coriaria ruscifolia, Gnaphalium Keriense, sometimes the rare Calceolaria repens, and similar plants requiring a moist, welldrained alluvial soil.

Feathered friends are not wanting to break the stillness of the bush. Once a pair of blue mountain-duck were started from the bank, and swam leisurely down-stream, uttering expostulatory quacks against the intruders of their fastness. The quaint little rifleman is observed in numbers, running up the sides of the trees and snapping up many a toothsome morsel with its upwardly inclined bill, whistling from time to time a cheerful twit. The tui's musical note is often heard, contrasting strongly with the long-tailed cuckoo's screechy pipe. Fantails flutter here and there, and occasionally a handsome pigeon laboriously wings its musical flight from tree to tree.

Presently the gorge opens out, and light floods the valley. We are nearing the confluence of the Hutt and the Lesser Hutt. Scrambling down a steep face, a fine river-beach is reached at 6.30 p.m. Camp is soon pitched, and a hearty meal enjoyed. This camp is about 800 ft. altitude—not greatly different from that of Kaitoke.

A visit to this camp in November, 1908, when the faint odour of the rangiora (Brachyglottis repanda) was in the air, and the spring flowers had shaken out their petals to the full, showed us many whiteheads, tomtits, riflemen, pied fantails, grey warblers, a pair of grey duck, flocks of chaffinches, many pigeons, kaka, parrakeets, tuis, long-tailed cuckoos; and in the still hour of the early dawn a weka visited the tent, was disturbed, and stalked up the valley, waking the echoes with its vibrant call.

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Bluffs and Beeches on the Hutt River.
Confluence Camp, junction of the Main and Lessen Hutt Rivers, foot of Quoin.
Botany of the Tararuas.—Aston.

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Effect of wind-action on Quoin top, cutting vegetation (Danthonia Raoulii, Dracophyllum longifolium, Celmisia Spectabilis, Pimelia, Gmdia, Drapetes Dieffenbachii, Senecio lagopus) into lanes
Scrub on Quoin top, consisting of Coprosma cuneata, C fœtidissima, [ unclear: Olea ] lacunosa, O Colensoi, Astelia [ unclear: nevosa ] , Senecio eleagnifoius, Danthoma Raoulii (Snowgrass)
Botany of the Tararuas.—Aston

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Mountain-tarn on Quoin top, with Cushion-plants and Snowgrass
Mount Alpha and [ unclear: dge ] leading from Quoin top Fagus Menziesii trees deeply covered with lichens and mosses to topmost bough.
Botany of the Tararuas.—Aston

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IV Mount Hector Range from Quoin top, with Mount Hector in the distance
Astelia nervosa beds on summit of Quoin The darker patches are composed of Coprosma cuneata and the lighter of Dracophyllum and Danthoma Raoulii (Snowgrass).
Botany of the Tararuas.—Aston

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Ligusticum dissectum, a characteristic and abunoant plant of the Tararuas-its only known habitat.
Botany of the Tararuas.—Aston

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Hehchiysum leontopodium (New Zealand Edelweiss), an abundant plant above 4,000ft.
Botany of the Tararuas.—Aston

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Mouth of the Pakaiutahi Heketara (Olcaria Cunninghamii) in flower.
Shingle-beds on the Pakarutahi River.
Botany of the Tararuas.—Aston.

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A list of plants seen from the junction of the Pakuratahi and Hutt Rivers to the camp is given below: Pittosporum eugenioides, P. tenuifolium, Hoheria populnea, Oxalis magellanica, Coriaria ruscifolia, Carmichaelia odorata, Weinmannia racemosa, Gunnera monica, Myrtus obcordata, Fuchsia excorticata, Hydrocotyle elongata, elongata, Schefflera digitata, Griselinia littoralis, Coprosma robusta, Lagenphora Forsteri, Olearia nitida, Gnaphalium Keriense, Helichrysum glomeratum, Senecio latifolius, S. lagopus, S. Kirkii, Pratia angulata, Calceolaria repens, Veronica catarractœ, V. salicifolia, Ourisia, Piper excelsum, Laurelia novœ-zealandiœ, Beilschmiedia tawa, Knightia excelsa, Fagus Menziesii, Podocarpus ferrugineus, Dacrydium cupressinum, Corysanthes, Dendrobium Cunninghamii, Thelymitra sp., Earina autumnalis, Cordyline Banksii, Dianella intermedia, Danthonia Cunninghamii, D. semiannularis, Deyeuxia, Hymenophyllum multifidum, Asplenium flaccidum, Adiantum affine, Lomaria alpina, L. vulcanica, L. Patersoni, Microlœna avenacea.

An early start is made next moring, with fair weather and a rising barometer. At 5 a.m. the Lesser Hutt River is crossed, and the ascent of the steep leading spur to the Quoin is begun. But few supplejacks—the bane of the bushman—impede the way. The forest is chiefly kamahi, with beech, rimu, and a little totara and rata. The forest-floor is carpeted with umbrella (Gleichenia Cunninghamii) and kidney (Trichomanes reniforme) fern. At 1,100 ft. Senecio Kirkii appears as a plentiful underscrub; at 1,400 ft. totara is more plentiful, and the floor is a perfect carpet of kidney-fern, with clumps of Astelia nervosa dotted through it. The kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa) is still the predominating tree; occasionally a miro (Podocarpus ferrugineus) is seen, its bright-red fruit presently to afford a rich feast for the pigeons. The epiphytic orchids Earina mucronata and E. suaveolens are still plentiful, and Gastrodia Cunninghamii, the tall black-and-white flowered terrestrial orchid, with the large tuberous roots beloved of pigs, is met with. The ferns Lomaria discolor and L. alpina cover the ground in places. Here and there a spray of pure-white flowers shows where the beautiful little nohi (Enargia parviflora) wastes its sweetness on the desert-air. The underscrub is chiefly Coprosma fœtidissima, C. lucida, and Myrsine salicina.

At 1,600 ft. the forest is more open. There is a greater preponderance of light scrub, Coprosma grandifolia, C. fœtidissima, and C. Colensoi. Clumps of Uncinia appear.

At 1,700 ft. snow-grass is plentiful on the floor of the forest, of which the chief tree is kamahi. Leucopogon fasciculatum and Pseudopanax crassifolium are common.

At 1,900 ft. Panax simplex becomes common.

At 2,100 ft. Fagus fusca, Weinmannia, Senecio Kirkii, Coprosma Colensoi, Panax arboreum, Myrsine salicina, filmy ferns (Hymenophyllum), and mosses are most conspicuous.

At 2,200 ft. the billy is boiled, the water being obtained from a puddle in a hollow. Hanging moss or lichen is now becoming a prominent feature on the trees. In wet places Microlœna avenacea, and in dark places Todea superba (double crape-fern), were plentiful.

Deep moss now covers the forest-floor. The trees are Fagus fusca and F. Menziesii, with a sprinkling of kamahi.

At 2,300 ft. the arboreal growth is more stunted, and the floor is carpeted with moss, nohi, and filmy fern. An open space here shows the top of the Quoin to be due (magnetic) north; but the ridge takes a considerable sweep to the east and back again to the north. This is the only part

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of the ascent where it is possible to go wrong; but, as one may obtain such a clear view of the country by climbing one of the stunted beeches, losing the way is a very unlikely contingency. The forest is Fagus Menziesii and totara, with a little Fagus fusca. The occurrence of Phormium tenax testifies to the open nature of the forest. Lomaria discolor, L. capensis, snow-grass (Danthonia Cunninghamii), and Gleichenia Cunninghamii are abundant. The country here is fairly level, and, viewed from the top of a stunted tree, shows Fagus Menziesii, with Dracophyllum longifolium, with some Fagus fusca and totara, to be the main forest-growth. Occasional kamahi, Myrsine salicina, Coprosma Colensoi, and C. fœtidissima are present. The totaras are deeply mossed with lichens to the topmost bough.

Thence succeeds a wind-exposed slope, with stunted Suttonia divaricata and other scrub breast-high, with Lycopodium and stunted Fagus Menziesii and Weinmannia.

At 2,500 ft. to 2,600 ft. the beech and totara trees are very gnarled growths, with an underscrub of Coprosma fœtidissima.

At 3,000 ft. (12.20 p.m.) the forest is gnarled Fagus Menziesii 40 ft. high, with an underscrub of Coprosma fœtidissima, Panax arboreum, and Suttonia divaricata. Astelia nervosa is common. The broadleaf (Griselinia littoralis) here attains a height of 15–20 ft., being quite a small tree. Hymenophyllum multifidum, Todea superba, and moss cover the forest-floor. Kaka and bell-birds are seen.

At 3,100 ft. stunted Fagus Menziesii 14 ft. high at edge of bush, mossed to the topmost bough, forms the dominant growth. The underscrub is Pittosporum rigidum, Senecio eleagnifolius, and Coprosma cuneata.

3,150 ft. We are out at last, and breathe the fresh air on the open mountain-side. On the western face there is stunted Fagus Menziesii 3 ft. high, and snow-grass, and then an alpine meadow containing Celmisia spectabilis (in flower), Carpha alpina, Drosera stenopetala, Caladenia bifolia (in flower), moss, Forstera (in flower), Pentachondra pumila, Pimelia Gnidia (in flower).

3,350 ft. We encounter stunted scrub again on the south side of the spur, chiefly Coprosma cuneata and Dracophyllum longifolium.

On the east side the Fagus Menziesii creeps up to within 100 ft. of the top, and affords a grateful shelter from the fierce sun, the beech-trees being about 20 ft. high here. Directly one moves over to the western face the trees are beaten down to a height of 3 ft., making it difficult to force a passage through.

3,600 ft. On the west side of the spur Olearia Colensoi (the mutton-bird scrub) appears in thick shrubberies, broken by snow-grass meadows. Ligusticum dissectum is in full flower. Entering the forest on the west side to avoid the mutton-bird scrub, we meet with Olearia alpina, a handsome shrub of most characteristic growth, resembling the lancewood (Pseudopanax crassifolium). The floor of the forest is carpeted with filmy ferns and Myrsine nummularia. Good progress is made, and the top of the Quoin (3,900 ft.) is reached at 4 p.m. Although it has taken eleven hours to climb to this height, allowance must be made for the fact that we are carrying heavy swags, and are not in the best condition. The day has been very hot, and we are new to the route. Moreover, frequent rests for taking notes and observations have been resorted to.

Between the summit and the bush-line on the eastern face are a few acres of mountain-meadow containing many beautiful alpine plants. Among the most noticeable are Aciphylla Colensoi, Ligusticum dissectum,

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Celmisia spectabilis, Raoulia grandiflora, Senecio bellidioides, Phyllachne Colensoi, Euphrasia revoluta, Suttonia nummularia, Gaultheria antipoda, Pimelia Gnidia, Dracophyllum rosmarinifolium, Astelia nervosa, Carpha alpina, Danthonia Raoulii, Ehrharta Colensoi. In the wetter parts are clear pools of good water, surrounded by the interesting cushion-plant Oreobolus pumilio var. pectinatus, mixed with Astelia linearis, Drosera stenopetala, Pentachondra pumila, Forstera (?) Bidwillii, Caladenia bifolia, and Caltha novœ-zealandiœ. A black bird, which may be a huia, is twice seen in the evening. A fine wild bull seems inclined to dispute possession of the summit with us, but, being left alone, towards sunset, after the manner of his kind, he makes his way down into the valleys. Long after dark we hear the distant lowing of his mates. This and the mournful notes of the ruru (morepork) are the only sounds which wake the stillness of our first night on the hilltops.

Sunday, 29th December.—We had witnessed the sinking of the sun into the south-western ocean the previous evening, and were this morning to see it rise from the sea in the opposite direction. An interesting phenomenon accompanied it. Before the edge of the sun appeared above the horizon, one-half of the disc appeared below the horizon-line and nothing above it, the effect being due possibly to reflection from a bank of clouds.

After breakfast we start to ascend the northern arête to Mount Alpha, and notice the rare Abrotanella pusilla in flower. The spur we now descend has been burnt on the west side, but on the east side is virgin scrub, merging gradually into forest. The way is fairly easy, though beds of Astelia nervosa occasionally impede us. The vegetation on this ridge is Coprosma cunneata, Olearia lacunosa, and O. excorticata, growing in great profusion; Phormium tenax (in flower), Gaultheria antipoda, Ligusticum aromaticum, and a stout species of Uncinia; while the only naturalised plant seen was Hypochœris radicata in the cattle-tracks. At the lowest point of the arête, 300 ft. below the Quoin-top, Cordyline indivisa, Senecio eleagnifolius, Olearia nitida, Gaultheria rupestris, Hoheria populnea, Danthonia Raoulii, Ourisia Colensoi are common.

At 3,800 ft. we commence the rise to Mount Alpha, and are on the open mountain-side, with no scrub. Senecio Bidwillii (in bud) becomes common, but Ligusticum dissectum is abundant.

At 4,000 ft. Gentiana patula (in bud), Celmisia spectabilis, Oreomyrrhis andicola, Dracophyllum rosmarinifolium, and Ligusticum dissectu are abundant. Pipits and fantails are seen.

At 4,200 ft. a small mountain-tarn gave us a grateful drink. Celmisia hieracifolia (in flower), Ourisia cœspitosa, Veronica buxifolia (in flower), Drapetes Dieffenbachii (in flower), patches of Raoulia grandiflora, Helichrysum Leontopodium (in flower), Veronica Astoni, Bulbinella Hookeri, Aciphylla Colensoi (in flower), Epilobium sp. (?), Poa, are the most noticeable plants. On the rocks are many specimens of the vegetable sheep of the Tararuas (Raoulia rubra).

At 4,450 ft. by our aneroid we top Mount Alpha, and discover several good mountain-tarns, but no firewood. There is the usual vegetation, comprising most of the species noticed, and one notable addition, Celmisia hieracifolia var. oblonga, a very diminutive variety of a handsome species, and now recorded for the first time in the North Island. Descending Mount Alpha a hundred feet or so, at 4,300 ft. another tarn is passed; then a climb over an unnamed peak of 4,450 ft. On the other side of this a remarkable instance of wind-action on vegetation is noticed. On a

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gentle slope trending towards the west, the ground - mass of which is angular stones, are lanes of herbaceous plants growing with a regularity which simulates artificial arrangement. The area of this would be about 3 or 4 square chains. There is a space of 6 ft. to 8 ft. between the strips of vegetation, containing angular stones with but little vegetation, save an occasional patch of Raoulia grandiflora, Phyllachne Colensoi, and Drapetes Dieffenbachii. The vegetation of the lane “hedge” is two species of Danthonia (one of which is D. Raoulii), Ligusticum dissectum, Bulbinella, Phyllachne, Celmisia spectabilis, Dracophyllum, Ligusticum aromaticum, Astelia linearis (in beautiful red fruit). These lanes run in an east-and-west direction. We have been traversing a long stretch of gently rising country, and, passing a tarn, arrive at a point 4,500 ft., the lowest point between the flat land and the ridge leading to Mount Hector. Patches of Luzula compestris frequently occur, and some stunted Olearia Colensoi, very fine plants of Senecio Bidwillii, snow-grass (Danthonia), and masses of Raoulia rubra on steep rubble slips, are the most noticeable botanical features.

We now ascend the remarkable razorbacked ridge. On the north-east face a Danthonia (snow-grass) meadow extends for several hundred feet down the slope. Scattered through the snow-grass are Dracophyllum longifolium, Senecio Bidwillii, Bulbinella Hookeri, Aciphylla Colensoi. On the south-west side is a steep shingle or rocky face covered in parts with Raoulia rubra, patches of Ligusticum dissectum, Celmisia hieracifolia, Danthonia Raoulii, and Helichrysum Leontopodium. The ridge is equally steep on either face, and where it changes its aspect in zigzagging the flora also changes: the Danthonia meadow now appears on the left-hand side, facing the north-east, and the rocky slope on the right hand, facing south-west, approximately, showing that the difference in vegetation is due to a climatic and not to an edaphic cause.

At 4,700 ft. the “razorback” disappears, giving place to a rounded hill, covered on the south-west slope with a lane formation similar to that previously described, and containing Danthonia, Ligusticum, Phyllachne, and Celmisia spectabilis.

At 4,800 ft., where the faces of the ridge again become steeper, are noticed stunted Danthonia and Bulbinella on the north-east face, and incipient lane formation on the south-west face; and again at 4,900 ft. is a rocky face on the south-west and Danthonia on the north-east face.

A plant we have noticed all the way from Mount Alpha is Veronica Astoni, usually found growing on the top of the ridge.

At 5,050 ft. we at length reach the final slope of Mount Hector, and now meet for the first time the gorgeous Ranunculus insignis in full bloom, growing on shingle-slips. A mountain-tarn is almost hidden by the tall Danthonia. Helichrysum bellidioides with very large heads and orbicular leaves, Cotula pyrethrifolia, and Ourisia cœspitosa we here collect.

At 5,200 ft. by the aneroid, at 3.45 p.m., the summit is reached. Danthonia, Aciphylla Colensoi, Ligusticum dissectum, Bulbinella Hookeri, and Veronica Astoni occupy the north-east face, but the south-west aspect is a steep shingle-slope with patches of Raoulia rubra, Ranunculus insignis, Phyllachne, and Ligusticum dissectum. A glorious view greets the eye from every direction. The Wairarapa Plain is spread out to the east, Kapiti Island and the Otaki beach in the west. Cape Palliser and Palliser Bay can be seen in the south, followed by the Hutt Valley—Wellington Harbour and Tupuaewainuku beyond. To the north the Tararua peaks block the view.

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Aston - Botanical Notes made on a Journey across the Tararuas

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Commencing the descent, a sharp dip of 400 ft. brings us to a valley where a chain of tarns stretches down the slope. From this point a well-defined aréte leans to Mount Dennan.

A hill between Mounts Dennan and Hector has its vegetation cut into lanes running south-west and north-east.

Just before reaching Mount Dennan, 4,200 ft., the main ridge is broken up into several. The small valleys thus formed afford good protection to the snow-grass, which flourishes exceedingly. Astelia beds are also intermixed with snow-grass and Aciphyllum Colensoi. Many of these hollows, with snow-grass leaves in abundance on the ground, would make an excellent camping-ground. We reach our old camp at “Table Top” at 7.15 p.m., and, too tired to pitch tent, merely pull it over us, and sleep soundly through the starry subalpine night.

There is little more to tell. The next morning, the fourth since leaving Kaitoke, we dally long on “Table Top,” around the camp, collecting specimens and taking notes. Here the rare Liparophyllum Gunnii is plentifully gathered in the habitat originally found by Mr. Petrie. It is late in the forenoon when a start is made for the Forks camp at the junction of the Waiotauru and Otaki Rivers. The descent through the bush to the river is only eventful in our passage through the subalpine scrub (Olearia Colensoi), and over “Dry Camp” (a ridge where all the trees have been blown down, and lie inextricably mixed)—incidents which bring home in a very human manner the feebleness of language, upon occasion, to express one's thoughts.

Avoiding all tracks leading to the right, from a fear of entering the dreaded portion of the Otaki Gorge above the Forks camp, we strike the Waiotauru rather farther to the south than we intended. Here we eat our remaining provisions as the dusk rapidly deepens into night. Although only a few more miles remain, they are among the most trying of the trip. The bush track is deeper than our boot-tops in mud, the night is dark, and a stump of candle soon burns out. It is not until 11.30 p.m. that we reach the cottage of Mr. Murray, at the Gorge Settlement, where, after being mistaken for burglars, we are hospitably sheltered for the night.

Plants Seen in the Valley of the Pakuratahi.

Clematis indivisa, Drimys axillaris, Cardamine hirsuta, Melicytus ramiflorus, Pittosporum tenuifolium, Stellaria parviflora, Plagianthus betulinus, Aristotelia racemosa, Elœocarpus dentatus, Coriaria ruscifolia (tree-tutu or tupakihi), Pennantia corymbosa, Carmichaelia odorata, Rubus australis, R. schmidelioides, Carpodetus serratus, Weinmannia racemosa (towhai), Myrtus pedunculata, Metrosideros florida, M. Hypericifolia, M. Colensoi, M. scandens, Epilobium junceum var. macrophyllum (E. erectum, D.P.), E. pubens, E. rotundifolium, E. nummularifolium, Fuchsia excorticata, Panax arboreum, Schefflera digitata, Pseudopanax crassifolium, Coprosma grandiflora, C. lucida, C. robusta, C. fœtidissima, C. Colensoi, C. microcarpa, Olearia Cunninghamii, Gnaphalium luteo-album, Erechtites prenanthoides, Brachyglottis repanda, Leucopogon fasciculatus, Myrsine salicina, Olea montana, Parsonsia capsularis, Muehlenbeckia australis, Hedycarya dentata, Beilschmiedia tawa, Knightia excelsa, Loranthus Colensoi, Urtica incisa, Fagus fusca, Podocarpus ferrugineus (miro), P. dacrydioides (kahikatea), Dacrydium cupressinum (rimu), Earina autumnalis, Gahnia setifolia, G. pauciflora, Microlœna avenacea, Libertia ixioides, Rhipogonum scandens, Astelia nervosa, Dianella intermedia,

– 23 –

Freycinetia Banksii, Uncinia australis, Hymenophyllum polyanthos, H. dilatatum, H. flabellatum, H. scabrum, H. subtilissimum, H. Tunbridgense, H. multifidum, H. bivalve, Trichomanes venosum, T. reniforme, Cyathea dealbata, C. medullaris, Hemitelia Smithii, Dicksonia squarrosa, Davallia novœ-zealandiœ, Lindsaya trichomanoides, Pteris scaberula, P. incisa, Lomaria discolor, L. fluviatilis, L. membranacea, L. lanceolata, L. filiformis, Asplenium falcatum, A. bulbiferum, A. obtusatum, A. capense, A. Richardi, Nephrodium glabellum, Polypodium pennigerum, P. Billardieri, P. punctatum, P. australe, P. serpens, Gleichenia Cunninghamii, Todea hymenophylloides, Tmesipteris Forsteri.

List of Plants Observed on the Tararuas not in Mr. Petrie's List

(Trans. N.Z. Inst., 1907, p. 299).


  • Ranunculus rivularis, Banks and Sol., Mount Holdsworth.

  • " Munroi, Hook. f., Tararuas (Buchanan).

  • Pittosporum eugenioides, A. Cunn., Hutt Gorge.

  • Colobanthus Billardieri, Fenzl., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Plagianthus betulinus, A. Cunn.

  • Aristotelia fruticosa, Hook. f., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Coriaria angustissima, Hook. f., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Donatia novæ-zelandiæ, Hook. f., Mount Holdsworth (Townson).

  • Tillæa (?) debilis, Col., Kaitoke Ridge.

  • Drosera binata, Labill., Kaitoke.

  • Metrosideros Colensoi, Hook. f., Kaitoke.

  • Myrtus obcordata, Hook. f., Kaitoke.

  • " Ralphii, Hook. f., Kaitoke.

  • Eugenia maire, A. Cunn., Otaki Gorge, Mount Hector.

  • Epilobium pallidiflorum, Sol., Upper Hutt.

  • " chloræfolium, Haussk., Mount Holdsworth, Mount Hector.

  • " Cockaynianum, Petrie, Mount Holdsworth.

  • Azorella nitens (?), Petrie, Otaki Gorge.

  • Aciphylla Lyallii (?), Hook. f., Mount Holdsworth, Mount Hector.

  • Coprosma microcarpa, Hook. f., Mount Holdsworth, Kaitoke.

  • " Cunninghamii, Hook. f.

  • " parviflora, Hook. f., Mount Holdsworth.

  • " rubra, Petrie, foot of Mount Holdsworth.

  • Lagenophora Forsteri, D.C., Mount Holdsworth, Kaitoke.

  • Celmisia longifolia, Cass., Mount Holdsworth, Mount Hector.

  • " hieracifolia, Hook. f., var. oblonga, Mount Alpha, 4,600 ft.

  • Gnaphalium luteo-album, Linn.

  • Gnaphalium Traversii, Hook. f., Mount Hector.

  • Raoulia glabra, Hook. f., Quoin.

  • Helichrysum Loganii, T. Kirk, Mount Holdsworth, Mount Hector, 4,500 ft.

  • " glomeratum, Benth. and Hook. f., Hutt Gorge.

  • " bellidioides, Willd., var. prostratum.

  • Craspedia uniflora, Forst., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Erechtites prenanthoides, D.C., abundant in bush clearings.

  • " quadridentata, D.C., ridge above Kaitoke.

  • " arguta, D.C.

  • Senecio Adamsii, Cheesem., Mount Holdsworth.

– 24 –
  • Wahlenbergia gracilis, A. D.C., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Olea Cunninghamii, Hook. f., Mount Holdsworth.

  • " lanceolata, Hook. f., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Gentiana Grisebachii, Hook. f., Mount Hector.

  • Myosotis Astoni, Cheesem., Mount Holdsworth, Tauherinikau Valley.

  • Solanum aviculare, Forst., Kaitoke.

  • Veronica catarractæ, Forst., var. diffusa, Mount Holdsworth.

  • Euphrasia zealandica, Wettst.

  • Plantago Raoulii, Decne., Mount Hector.

  • Piper excelsum, Forst., Hutt Gorge.

  • Muehlenbeckia australis, Meissn.

  • " complexa, Meissn.

  • Knightia excelsa, R. Br.

  • Pimelia longifolia, Banks and Sol., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Loranthus tetrapetalus, Forst., Quoin.

  • Tupeia antarctica, Cham. and Schl., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Dactylanthus Taylori, Hook. f., Kaitoke.

  • Fagus cliffortioides, Hook. f., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Podocarpus Hallii, T. Kirk.

  • " spicatus, R. Br.

  • Earina autumnalis, Hook. f.

  • Orthoceras strictum, R. Br., Kaitoke.

  • Pterostylis Banksii, R. Br.

  • " graminea, Hook. f., Kaitoke.

  • " foliata, Hook. f., Kaitoke.

  • " trullifolia, Hook. f., Kaitoke.

  • " barbata, Lindl., Kaitoke.

  • Cyrtostylis oblonga, Hook. f., Kaitoke.

  • Chiloglottis cornuta, Hook. f., Kaitoke.

  • Gastrodia sesamoides, R. Br., Tauherinikau Valley.

  • Phormium tenax, Forst.

  • Juncus scheuchzerioides, Gaud.

  • " planifolius, R. Br., Mount Holdsworth.

  • " cæspiticius, E. Mey.

  • Luzula campestris, D.C., var. picta.

  • Cyperus vegetus, Willd.

  • Eleocharis Cunninghamii, Boeck., Kaitoke.

  • Scirpus cernuus, Vahl., Kaitoke.

  • " prolifer, Rottb., Kaitoke.

  • " sulcatus, Thouars., Kaitoke.

  • Danthonia Cunninghamii, Hook. f., Hutt Gorge.

  • " pilosa, R. Br., Kaitoke.

  • Arundo conspicua, Forst., var. intermedia.

  • Agrostis Muellerii, Benth.

  • Deyeuxia Petrei, Hack.

  • " quadriseta, Benth., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Dichelachne crinata, Hook. f., Kaitoke.

  • Poa seticulmis, Petrie.

  • Filices.

  • Hymenophyllum multifidum, Swartz.

  • " polyanthos, Swartz.

  • " bivalve, Swartz.

– 25 –
  • Hymenophyllum flabellatum, Lab.

  • " subtilissimum, Kunze.

  • " dilatatum, Swartz.

  • " Tunbridgense, Smith.

  • " scabrum, A. Rich.

  • " demissum, Swartz.

  • " rarum, R. Br.

  • Trichomanes venosum, R. Br.

  • " reniforme, Forst.

  • " strictum, Menz., Mount Dennan.

  • Cyathea dealbata, Swartz.

  • " medullaris, Swartz.

  • Hemitelia Smithii, Hook.

  • Alsophila Colensoi, Hook. f., Mount Holdsworth.

  • Dicksonia squarrosa, Swartz.

  • Davallia novæ-zealandiæ, Col.

  • Lindsaya trichomanoides, Dryand.

  • Adiantum affine, Willd.

  • Hypolepsis millefolium, Hook.

  • " distans, Hook.

  • Pteris incisa, Thunb.

  • " scaberula, A. Rich.

  • " aquilina, Linn.

  • Lomaria lanceolata, Spreng.

  • " membranacea, Col.

  • " fluviatilis, Spreng.

  • " filiformis, A. Cunn.

  • " discolor, Willd.

  • " capensis, Willd., var. minor.

  • " Patersoni, Spreng.

  • " alpina, Spreng.

  • " vulcanica, Blume.

  • Asplenium falcatum, Lam.

  • " obtusatum, Forst.

  • " flaccidum, Forst.

  • " Hookerianum, Col.

  • " fluviatilis, Spreng.

  • " lucidum, Forst.

  • Aspidium Richardi, Hook.

  • " capense, Willd.

  • " aculeatum, var. vestitum.

  • Nephrodium glabellum, A. Cunn.

  • Polypodium pennigerum, Forst.

  • " Billardieri, R. Br.

  • " punctatum, Thunb.

  • " australe, Mett.

  • " serpens, Forst.

  • " grammitidis, R. Br.

  • Gleichenia Cunninghamii, Heward.

  • Todea hymenophylloides, A. Rich.

  • " superba, Col.

  • Lycopodium scariosum volubile, Forst.

  • Tmesipteris tannensis, Benth.