• New Zealand Week- Sunday- Rarangi Beach

    by  • January 30, 2011 • Summer, Take a NZ vacation, Winter

    You’ve heard of Shark Week, right?  Well, this is New Zealand Week here at the Sierra Foothill Garden, and I hope by the end of this week you feel like you had a mini vacation there.

    All the locations, Blenheim, Abel Tasman Nat'l Park, Nelson, Picton and Rarangi in this series are at the top of the South Island

    After three weeks there visiting the Marlborough Valley at the ‘Top of the South’ Island, I was able to see a surprisingly large amount of gardens, NZ native plants, garden centres and just beautiful scenery.  The plants are totally different here, so there are no thoughts of bringing NZ to the hills of California, but I appreciated so much that exotic difference and also some similarities between those who love native gardening here, and there.

    Sunday- Rarangi Beach
    Monday-Blenheim Wineries and Gardens
    Tuesday-Totaranui and Abel Tasman Nat’l Park
    Wednesday-Birds of Abel Tasman
    Thursday- Nelson, New Zealand
    Friday- Picton and the Marlborough Sounds
    Saturday-The Plants of New Zealand

    Sunday- Rarangi Beach, Blenheim, Marlborough, South Island, NZ

    Rarangi beach was home base. Located on Cloudy Bay, Rarangi is a small strip of beach north of Blenheim on the South Island and is home to some of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

    Marlborough Valley

    Marlborough Valley, set between the Wither Hills and the Richmond Range, home to 50+ wineries.

    The seasons here are reversed, our winter is summer here but the rainfall is the same, approx 25 inches (655mm), however they get more in the summer than we here in California.

    Rarangi Sunset over the Richman Range. Foreground is the profile of the Conservation area to the west of the home where I stayed.

    There was found, the Rarangi Beach native plant restoration area and the most adorable pair of Rhodesian Ridgebacks ever. At a beach just north of Rarangi, you can crack off a few green-lipped mussels right off the rocks at low tide and steam them that evening for dinner.

    Rarangi Landcare Group– homeowners plant NZ beach natives and weed out the invaders, protecting small mat forming native Daphnes with driftwood edging.

    Here, lupine, CA poppies, sweet broom and borage have escaped from the nearby home gardens and are weeded out, making way for the native grasses and beach plants to thrive and spread. Surprisingly, California quail are here, and with no predators (NZ has few mammals), multiply in peace.

    Local schools and an Outward Bound group, as well as the Rarangi homeowners, do the planting and weeding to restore the beach to it’s pristine condition.  Approximately 8,000 plants have been established, including sand tussock (Austrofestuca littoralis), native daphne (Pimelea urvileana) and spinifex (Spinefex sericeus).

    Rarangi Beach on Cloudy Bay on a sunny summer day in January.

    The beach is nearly deserted and good fun for dogs to play on.  Sundays, more people come to enjoy it and children make forts out of driftwood.  Shells abound, especially after the scallop boats have come and gone.

    Tomorrow-Marlborough Wineries and Gardens….


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.