Thursday, 16 January 2020

The Westland Glaciers

Photo: Fox Glacier.
Westland National Park is a spectacular place with high snow capped peaks even in mid summer and dominated by two glaciers, Fox and Franz Josef. In truth these glaciers are nowhere near as impressive as they may appear from the photographs, on foot the nearest you can get to Fox Glacier is 2.5km, whereas Franz Josef is about 1km. They have receded considerably in recent years due to climate change and as you walk towards them you pass signs which indicate the position of previous glacier terminal faces. Still, the scenery is spectacular and even walking through the valley moraines deposited by the glaciers is an impressive experience for anybody interested in geography.

Photo: Franz Josef Glacier.

Westland NP has many rivers such as this, fast flowing and milky white in colour through wide flat bottomed valleys.

Looking towards Franz Josef Glacier.

Tui is one of two species of honeyeater which occur in New Zealand and they are one of the most obvious birds of the forests at the foot of these mountains.

Tomtits are quite a common bird here.

Tomtit. Other species include New Zealand pigeon, New Zealand fantail, grey warbler and south Island robins.

Photo: Sphagnum sp.

However the real stars of these woodlands are the bryophytes and ferns of incredible variety. I don't have the time or resources to even begin to identify most of them other than to occasionally assign them to family, but they are wonderful to see. Every tree has it's own community of plants living on its branches and trunk.

This looks like a type of fern but if so I've never seen one with fronds like this before.

Prince of Wales Feathers.

Tree Ferns.

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