• NZ Week- Tuesday – Totaranui and Abel Tasman Nat’l Park

    by  • February 1, 2011 • Summer, Take a NZ vacation, Winter

    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

    Totaranui Forest Natives

    The silver fern is a well loved symbol for New Zealanders.

    Totaranui is a dreamy beach area, golden sand and clear water, located in Abel Tasman National Park. Abel Tasman was the man who discovered New Zealand.

    Walking to Anapai beach.

    Our visit of a few days here allowed my sister and I to see a lot of the forest native plants by tramping (walking the trails) along the paths leading to other beaches.

    A lone Pied cormorant on Anapai Bay won't mind the crowds of a dozen people who come later.

    We also saw and heard many exotic birds which you will see, too! We always got back in time for nibbles and tea.

    Track through the temperate rainforest

    This is what we saw:

    Silver Fern, Cyathea dealbata

    The Silver Fern, Cyathea dealbata, is the symbol of New Zealand, and here in the forests of Totaranui, they form a middle layer between the smaller shrubs and the tallest native beech tree. Every form of them is lovely from fiddlenecks to their dried fronds. They towered over the paths, filtering the bright sunshine.

    Cabbage Tree are distinctive to NZ landscape and home to native birds.

    Spiky Cabbage Trees, Cordyline australis, poke up above the landscape and halfway up their single trunks split into many. The berries of Cabbage Trees are enjoyed by bellbirds, tūī and New Zealand wood pigeons.

    A Whau tree. Wow!

    A small tree, an Entelea arborescens or whau was planted by the homestead at Totaranui where we stayed, just past full bloom. The dry fruit pods turn brown and are covered with spines. The common name whau is a Māori name from the Polynesian word for hibiscus, however to me, the flowers resemble white clematis. The wood is very light weight, which gives it another name, corkwood.

    Metrosideros perforata, white rata, is a member of the myrtle family.

    This Metrosideros perforata, climbing rata or akatea, is one of several Metrosideros species native to New Zealand, which also includes the common to California, NZ Christmas Tree or M. excelsa. This little gem was found growing outside the homestead door.

    A stately Nikau Palm near Goat Bay. Why do folks name things after goats?

    On a walk to Awaroa Lodge, reached by crossing a river inlet to the sea at low tide, we saw a Nikau palm, the only palm species native to mainland New Zealand. The trunk grows up into a smooth green collar before spiking out into fronds…a very handsome palm.

    From the forest track, we look down to see the golden sand of Totaranui beach on Tasman Bay.

    Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch........... . . . . .

    At low tide, we still walked through a three foot high river and on each side crunch-crunched our way over millions of tiny green clam shell, already raided by the oyster catchers.

    A NZ Crown fern. Cute, huh?

    This fern, identified by someone for me on the Dave’s garden Plant ID Forum is upright and glowing in a sunbeam deep in the temperate rainforest. NZ Crown Fern or Piu piu, Blechnum discolor, an attractive fern, with an upright habit, is native and found throughout NZ. Temperate rain forests only occur in few regions around the world, including most of NZ and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. That makes two of my relatives who live near these fascinatingly rare areas!

    A New Zealand Christmas tree above a Hebe.

    Hēbē is the goddess of youth in Greek mythology, a young Taiwanese television star and a huge genus of flowering plants, from tiny ‘head of a pin’ leafed, coastal plants to tropical beauties like this one, Hebe speciosa, four feet high in front of the ranger station at Totaranui. How I would love to plant a few, but no, my climate is too hot and dry in summer.

    Hebe speciosa blooms all summer.

    For info on hebes and NZ plants: Hebe Society in the UK.

    A tree fern rises high over the path to reach the sun. We search for it, too.


    Tomorrow – Wednesday – Birds of Abel Tasman


    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.