It seems slightly ironic that the last blog talked about my hatred of hills and today’s is titled “Above the treeline” but trust me, I didn’t climb the 1693 metres above sea level to Altimarloch. When Will and Rose Parsons from Driftwood Eco-Tours advertised their alpine flora trip, I thought Andrew would be keen, I booked & paid for our tickets, we sorted our camera gear and along with 5 other keen plant people we climbed into the van for a day of adventure. The aim of the day was to find flowering alpine plants. To do this, we first needed it to be the right time of year, this year had been an unseasonably early flower but we were still very hopeful. Secondly, we needed an experienced guide, this is where Will comes in. It’s not just the location that makes these trips awesome, it’s local knowledge, the history of an area, story-telling and great cake, all of which were in abundance.
We wound our way up to the highest point on the road, admiring the views of Mt Tapuae-o-uenuku, stopping for large stems of Spaniard grass (which had just finished flowering) and other interesting flora along the way. We even caught glimpses of various skinks as they scurried into the undergrowth.
After a cup of coffee and awesome rhubarb cake we set off for the scree slopes where we saw flowering vegetable sheep and beautiful gentians as well as masses of cushion daisies, I wish I could grow a lawn of them here at home.
As we had started botanising at the top of the mountain, we slowly wandered our way downwards among Spaniard grass and scree slopes, and incredible rock outcrops that look other worldly. The highlights for me were flowering gentians which reminded me of being back in the Subantarctic, a pretty little Janita’s Tussock Ringlet and a purple sun orchid. I am not a macro photographer and certainly not a plant expert however being able to walk among these unique plants in such a photogenic setting made for a wonderful day. The best part about it all? No up hill hikes!
If you would like more information about this trip, you can find it here. https://driftwoodecotours.co.nz/
NB: We both paid for this trip in full, and my blog post has not been requested or sponsored by Driftwood Eco-Tours.