This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in May 2000 Botany Trip Sunday 28 November 1999 In atrocious weather we met at the Railway Station and promptly decided to change our destination to Otari/Wilton Bush Reserve, instead of the planned Nikau Scenic Reserve, Hemi Matenga Memorial Scenic Reserve.
Equipped with storm gear and brollies we first explored Otari's new greywacke mountain, scree and tarn, with its plantings of alpine harebell, celmisia, speargrass, ranunculus, parahebe, dracophyllum, etc., newly bedded-in. Then we went across the new treetop walkway with its touchable tawa, titoki, rewarewa and karaka, a view of the podocarp/broadleaf forest canopy above the true left of Kaiwharawhara Stream, and distant views of the kauris planted by Leonard Cockayne early last century.
After a leisurely plant ID session in the collections area where we saw kakabeak, Clianthus puniceus weighed down with deep crimson blooms and a Brachyglottis hybrid with masses of bright gold flowers and large, silver-backed leaves, we descended on the Circular Track to the Troup Picnic Area. There we discussed the composition of the forest canopy and the easily recognisable forms of emergent species such as rewarewa.
As we tramped the Blue Trail we admired clusters of large, green fruit on kohekohe, the 600-year-old rimu, some old, gnarled hinau and plantings done by pupils from Tawa Intermediate. Back on the Circular Track we studied the bark and leaves of totara, comparing both with those of manuka and kanuka seen earlier. At the waterfall we saw the giant herb parataniwha, Elatostema rugosum, then climbed to the Wild Garden, marvelled at the large northern rata and saw some late-blooming Chatham Island forget-me-nots, Myosotidium hortensia, with their large, glossy, pleated leaves and two-tone blue flowers.
We thank Phillipa Crisp, Wellington Conservancy, Department of Conservation, for providing species lists for the reserves we had planned to visit. The combined list which we prepared will keep for the next botany trip - please see the July to December fixture card.