Huntleigh Park - Botany trip
15 November 2015
This impressive indigenous forest, between Crofton Downs and Ngaio, has some of the 1% of Wellington city’s remaining pre-European forest. Wellington City Council owns the western part of Huntleigh Park; GirlGuiding NZ owns the eastern part. Some other sites with remnants of our pre-European forest are: Otari, Johnston Hill Reserve, Wellington Botanic Garden, Centennial Reserve / Miramar, Erin-go-Bragh covenant / South Makara, Post Office Bush / Makara.
Barbara Mitcalfe and I did two recces before the TTC trip, the first in the WCC section, and the second in the GirlGuiding NZ section. During the first recce we were dismayed to find an ecologically destructive, and hazardous, mountain-bike track, including a 1-m-high ramp. We wrote to Paul Andrews, WCC’s Manager, Parks, Sport and Recreation, and received a prompt and welcome response from Dave Halliday, WCC’s Projects Manager, Parks & Recreation. He did not know about the track. He said that construction of the track was unauthorised, the ramp would be ‘deconstructed’, and a “No Mountain-biking” sign would be installed at the stile over the fence on the track leading down from The Crow’s Nest.
During the two recces, we compiled lists of native plants, introduced plants, and birds. On the day of the TTC trip, the forecast was for rain, but the two of us on the trip experienced a mere ten minutes of light rain. We climbed the broad track which begins at a WCC way-marker post downstream from Ngaio Play-centre Preschool. The track is through forest featuring a wide variety of plants, from red tobacco-pouch fungus, tiny filmy ferns and orchids, to towering trees, including an impressive tōtara. Fifteen years of possum control by Greater Wellington Regional Council has resulted in abundant growth of seedlings and saplings of plants palatable to possums and rodents, e.g., kohekohe, rewarewa and hīnau. We lunched leaning against a large kahikatea in the WCC section of the park, then admired a big tōtara nearby. Descending a spur southwards, we saw three big miro, then later a big rimu and a large mataī. The presence of miro and mataī seedlings indicates that the control of rodents eating bait in the possum-bait stations is enabling the seeds of these podocarps to survive and germinate. Forest recovery is proceeding!
We returned to town the way we had come – by train, which enabled us to look out over an area in Ngaio Gorge with some pre-European forest, Trelissick Park.
- Party members
- Julia Fraser, Chris Horne (leader and scribe).