Our August planting and track maintenance sessions will see us continue with our planting along sections of Te Ahi Kaa - the main loop track around Manawa Karioi. For many years gorse and blackberry had been a major problem, spreading onto the track and making large sections impassable for a few years. A lot of work was put into opening the tracks up again, which allowed us to get on with our planting. As gorse and blackberry don't grow well in shade, the best way to prevent them from spreading is to create a 'hedge' of native plants along the track edges.
Along the sections of Te Ahi Kaa furthest away from the Manawa Karioi nursery, this hedge has been a little patchy to say the least! Some areas were almost only gorse, while others had a light barrier made up of ngaio (which had been planted) and mahoe (which has been rapidly self-establishing itself at Manawa Karioi). In the more open areas with poor soil, subject to strong winds and becoming very dry in summer, we have been planting hardy species such as puka, taupata and akiraho. Where there is a bit of established native canopy we have been underplanting with small trees such as wharangi and kawakawa. These smaller trees fill in the gaps underneath and prevent weed species from establishing. This is especially important in the totara grove near the top of Te Uma i Mokotia.
Where Te Ahi Kaa has better soil we are making sure to plant other species that are now uncommon in south Wellington. This includes rewarewa in the sunny spots and titoki in the lightly-shaded areas. These two species often grow together on north-facing slopes - you can see an example of this on the canopy walkway at Otari native botanic garden. Where the track crosses shallow gullies with established trees we underplant with kohekohe, which was once the dominant canopy tree in coastal areas.
Along with the planting we will take some time to do track maintenance work. This will include cutting back branches from the track edges and digging drainage channels to lessen the effect of water-runoff eroding the tracks.
Meeting at the Information Shelter in the Tapu te Ranga carpark at the end of Danube Street in Island Bay. Tools and gloves will be provided.