Hold the door ….

January 1, 2024

The wind forecast said orange, and although it didn’t feel quite as dramatic as the predicted 120km/h gales, we ended our second day at Macraes Flat in the midst of a red tussock riot.

As we got out of Mike Thorsen’s ute to behold yet more of nature’s wonders, Mike very sensibly reminded us to hold on to our doors – lest they get blown off their hinges by the kind of wind that Mike is well familiar with (being an expert on the natural history of this area).

Aside from the social awkwardness of breaking the vehicle of a friend who had just spent the weekend showing us around a fascinating part of the country (with an extremely high diversity of plants), the ride back into town would have been distinctly uncomfortable with gaping holes where the passenger doors used to be. Thankfully, we all heeded Mike’s advice, and the vehicle remained unscathed.

One of many qualities that the uncommon claret-coloured sedge shown above (Carex tenuiculmis) brings to plantings – that of movement – was in full effect amidst the contrasting greener hues of the surrounding wetland.

An even more dramatic contrast was evident between the vigorous bustle of red tussock (which David Straight took great delight in recording videos of) and the calm of the shaded ‘understorey’ beneath the tussocks, in which the nationally threatened native buttercup pictured below, Ranunculus ternatifolius, grows.

This overcast eastern Otago day also offered the chance to observe an idiosyncratic feature of local weather patterns whose name has a folkloric air. The long, layered cloud formation pictured below is known as the ‘Taieri Pet’; a title that rivals the katabatic wind that Greymouth locals call ‘The Barber’ for linguistic coolness.