Thursday, 2 February 2017

Return to Rakiura - Stewart Island

Sunrise from Fred's Camp
Rakiura means 'glowing skies' and the soft pastel colours in the sky around Stewart Island on my recent visit showed again and again the appropriateness of this Maori place name. Views like this sunrise above were nearly enough to turn this writer to taking up water-colour painting!

(NB to see this video you need Adobe Flash Player)
The water was mesmerising too. What these photos don't show is that Rakiura / Stewart Island has had a wet summer. The continuing rain storms thwarted our tramping plans but as often happens changing plans led to some new opportunities.

Unable to tramp further, we had more time to look around at the vegetation. The late summer meant that the Southern rata Metrosideros umbellata was still flowering
Rata at the water's edge
and its red new leaves were beginning to show.
New rata leaves
Also flowering were putaputaweta (marble leaf) and kamahi. These three brought white, pink and red colours to the canopy, the rimu was in fine form as well and added its own particular shade of olive green to the mass of trees that we saw from the boat.
Colours and textures of the bush
Less obvious was the white rate vine Metrosideros diffusa, but close up it's white/pink flowers lit up the inner bush.
White rata flowers
Among my favourites on Rakiura are the tree daisies. With thick glossy green leaves, this mutton bird scrub Brachyglottis rotundifolia grows close to the water's edge.
Mutton bird scrub
Walkers and trampers spend a lot of time looking down at the ground, needing to watch our footing on the muddy and uneven tracks. In the swampy areas we spotted sundew and sun orchids (unfortunately on a day too dark for photography). In the bush we found other orchids, this green bird orchid Simpliglottis cornuta was discovered after one of my party sat on it
Green bird orchid

and the odd-leaved orchid Aporostylis bifolia was not far away.

Further information:  Stewart Island Plants by Hugh Wilson is one of New Zealand's best plant guides and is useful not just for Stewart Island as many of the plants occur across New Zealand.

In my next blog - kiwi sightings on Rakiura...