27 February 2012

Leatherwood; Ngamoko Range

Yesterday a couple of friends and I walked up the track towards Tunupo, the highest point on the Ngamoko Range (an offshoot of the Ruahine Range). Distracted by whiteheads (pōpokotea; Mohua albicilla), riflemen (tītipounamu; Acanthisitta chloris) and other birds; by the two tired hunters taking a break on their way out; and by the beautiful bush, we made relatively slow time. High in the leatherwood zone we stopped to enjoy the view, and eventually decided we had no burning desire to carry on to the summit. We turned, headed back down the track and returned home more than satisfied with a wonderful day.

The plant in the foreground with those tough, leathery leaves is tūpare, leatherwood. The grey-green plant covering the mountainside in the background is also leatherwood. Tūpare covers much of the southern Ruahine Range between the bushline and the open tops in an almost impenetrable thicket that can destroy your clothes, your gear, your skin, and your spirit — travel through leatherwood is measured in metres per hour, and if you're trying to battle uphill you're doing well if you manage a three digit distance in an hour.

[26 February 2012, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 14 mm, ISO 100, 1/200 at f8]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pete,
I still get amazed by the myriad shades of greens when getting up high in the Ruahine. And the Tupare is always a good sight to see, although in many cases means the real work has only started. I had Charlie up there not long ago, and when the wind and mist blew in we were happy to head back down and spent the night in the warm and empty confines of Heritage Lodge. It is a long rambling ridge.

The Elephant's Child said...

Thank you.

Zhoen said...

That stuff is beautiful, but it even looks intimidating.

Sometimes far enough is enough.

Relatively Retiring said...

I think you have to admire plants like these that stake their claim and fight for it every step of the way.

pohanginapete said...

Robb, it's a great track for a walk when the main purpose is to look around rather than get somewhere in a hurry. I still like Knights Track, though — it gives such quick access to the tops.

Elephant's Child, you're welcome :^)

Zhoen — I couldn't agree more.

RR, plants don't come much tougher than leatherwood.

Me from Cali said...

That stuff is very similar to what’s in my backyard here in California. It’s called ‘the Chaparral’.

see: http://www.californiachaparral.com/awheresthechaparral.html

Its smell wonderful out there -- sages, etc, but trying to bush-whack through a lot of it can really tear you up. And then there are the rattle snakes to be wary of and the ticks, and even mountain lions, believe it not (not a great concern, but I actually saw a young one once!! and tracks a few times).

Just like in the background of your photo, I’ve always wanted to venture into those deep ravines -- those crevasses or creases right at the bottom between to steep slopes, but never could manage to do it. What would that be like and how ‘sharp’ is the ‘crease’ right at the bottom? I’ve always wondered about that. Scary place, maybe.

Me from Cali said...

P.S. I have always wondered what your overall travel route is and how much time it will take for you complete this adventure? I do follow your blog and the other one, but I suppose I might of missed something.

pohanginapete said...

Paul, we have nothing other than the weather and the terrain that can cause harm — no snakes, no ticks with Lyme disease, no mountain lions ( envy you your sighting!), nothing like that. But the weather and terrain — those are enough.

About the journey: I'm not entirely sure I understand what you mean, but if it's about the travels in South America, I started in Ecuador last August, moved into Peru at the end of September and travelled through there and Bolivia and arrived in Argentina in November. Spent much of November and early December in Patagonia, getting as far south as Ushuaia on Tierra del Fuego, then came back up through Chile and flew back to Aotearoa roughly a week before Christmas. I'm back in the Pohangina Valley, right on the edge of the Ruahine Range. To get to the place in the photograph I drive about quarter of an hour then climb a steep track through the bush for about three quarters of an hour. I'm here now for the foreseeable future, but that, too me, is a continuation of the journey. Who knows where and when it will end?

Me from Cali said...

Ah, okay, I got the ‘picture’ (hey, the pun works, too!) now. I’ll have to look up where you live on Google Earth.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Wow, the textures and variations leave me longing to reach out and feel the greens. Beautiful.

pohanginapete said...

Brenda, texture's one of leatherwood's most distinctive characteristics — admittedly, not a pleasant one after fighting through an extensive stand of it!