Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Port William, Stewart Island.

On the first two days we were on Stewart Island, I led walks to or from Port William. The aim was for the Lewis & Clark College students to become familiar with the main plant species on the island and with some of the vegetation types and processes.
The jetty at Port William.
It's about a 10 km walk, a bit up and down in places but following the coast with a lovely stage along the strand at Maori Beach.
Maori Beach, Stewart Island
At the end of Maori Beach, a suspension bridge gives access to the rest of the track, right by a rata tree.

The vegetation is rata-kamahi forest with emergent podocarps (rimu mostly and some miro).

On the exposed coasts a band of muttonbird scrub (Brachyglottis rotundifolia) and coastal hebe (Veronica elliptica) form the edge to the forest.  These are resistant to salt spray.

In places, the track overlooks idyllic scenes, with crystal clear water and small islands.
At the Port William end, there are orchids (Dendrobium cunninghamii) and a mistletoe in a Coprosma bush.
Orchid, Dendrobium cunninghamii (Some people prefer the name Winika cunninghamii)

Mistletoe, Peraxilla sp., on Coprosma.
Much of the forest has been logged in the past, and some of the regeneration produces pole stands of kamahi and small podocarps of equal height, whereas the old growth forest at the Port William end of the track has emergent large podocarps (rimu and miro) over a canopy of kamahi with a putaputaweta understorey.

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