Over the holidays I was fortunate to spend a few days botanising the Marino Mountains, including Mount Owen, in north-west Nelson’s Kahurangi National Park. Kahurangi National Park is one of the most botanically interesting regions in New Zealand. Nearly half of New Zealand’s native plant species and 80% of our alpine species are found there. It also has the highest number of endemic plant species (those found nowhere else) of any of our national parks. One of the reasons that this area is so diverse is the presence of limestone and marble ecosystems. Almost half of the Kahurangi National Park endemic plants are restricted to these habitats. Mount Owen, the highest point in the park, has been recognised by the Department of Conservation as a key biodiversity area. Mount Owen has geological importance as one of only two regions of glaciated karst in the southern hemisphere and its stunning marble landforms were used as a filming location for one of Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings movies.
A selection of the plants that we saw, including a forget-me-not only known from the Marino Mountains, is shown below.