Friday 16 December 2011

Mount Cook flowers

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand

After showing you a glut of lupins I thought that it was about time that you saw a couple of native flowers.
To see them we had to go up a National Park, starting from ~760 m above sea level, and to put you in the picture I’m also going to show you some views of a mighty mountain.
Pre-breakfast view of Mt Cook from the village
Mount Cook at 3755 m is the tallest peak in Australasia.
After breakfast we moved from the very pricey Alpine Lodge and set up camp at the DOC White Horse Hill Campsite. Then we went on the Hooker Valley Track, a very popular walk, loads of hikers.

Hikers on the trail, Mt Sefton is on the background
About a third of the way up the trail, there were lots of Mount Cook buttercup Ranunculus lyalii plants, some of them in bloom. It is the flagship flower for the National Park and used to be known incorrectly as the Mount Cook lily, but you can see in the photos below that it has very buttercuppery leaves. The flowers are rather similar to the Japanese anemones, except that they are always white.

Perfectly opened flowers

Flowers frayed by the wind, note the large glossy leaves 

The other interesting plant in bloom on the trail was the large mountain daisy Celmisia semicordata; it is also white but its leaves were not soft at all, instead they rather stiff, downy and sharply pointed. I thought that they were a really beautiful grey.

Mountain daisy plant with lots of flower buds

Tiny bee on a large mountain daisy flower
It was really nice to see a few tiny bees pollinating these daisies. Another native species, I wonder? So far, we have seen honey bees and large white tailed bumble bees, both imported species.

In all, it was a very successful walk in spite of the fact that I started it off with a blister and it got much worse... The view of Mt Cook from the campsite was stunning.

Mt Cook at sunset from the campsite.
Alas, it started raining non-stop from 1 am and we saw it no longer. We left the camp absolutely drenched but with no regrets.  

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