Saturday, January 24, 2015

Raincliff Forest Tracks

Flanking Middle Valley Rd, Raincliff Forest is about 17 kms from Fairlie, in hilly farmland below Southern Alps.

At Raincliff Forest car park, a Blakely Pacific Limited sign board stated:

Originally planted around 1890 this 84 hectare forest is a managed unit now owned and operated by Blakely Pacific Limited.

It is Blakely Pacific's intention that harvesting and replanting will continue to recognise and preserve the unique character of this forest.

The forest contains a wide variety of exotic trees and you are invited to wander the marked walkways throughout this area...

The sign board showed the following Raincliff Forest tracks:

Hoare Track 60 mins
Mackay Track 40 mins
Johnson Track 15 mins
Burnetts Track 10 mins
Burkes Track 10 mins

Below Middle Valley Rd, a dirt road, Leah & I wandered part of Hoare Track, near Raincliff Stream. We also wandered Burnetts Track & Burkes Track which joined Hoare Track. Although a hot summer's day, mature forest gave us shade. Bobbing fantails entertained us in the understory when they flew around us checking us out.

Some mature, exotic trees we saw in Raincliff Forest:

* Redwood, Sequoiadendron giganteum
* Norway spruce, Picea abies
* Ponderosa pine, Pinus ponderosa
* Monterey cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa. Our old walking sticks are homemade Macrocarpa, so we were looking out for fresh windfalls. Prunings we found had lain around a while & were brittle, useless for good walking sticks.
* Oak, Quercus
* Ash, Fraxinus excelsior
* European larch, Larix decidua
* Radial pine, Pinus radiata
* Birch, Pendula
* Gum, Eucalyptus
* Oregon pine, Pseudotsuga menziesii
* Alder & Crack Willow along Raincliff Stream

Kiwis moan about wilding pines in Mackenzie Country. I thought pines were attractive & useful for windbreaks, inhaling carbon & stopping soil erosion. I hated all the Crack Willows polluting NZ river banks & lake shores. Why didn't Kiwis get rid of polluting Willows & replace them with native river trees?

An exotic / native mix of understorey plants in Raincliff Forest:


* Sycamore, Acer pseudplatanus. One of the exotics I loath as it's a prolific seeder.
* Holly, Ilex
* Gorse, Ulex europaeus, some pest sprayed
* Ivy, Hedera
* Blackberry, Rubus fruticosus


* Pittosporum eugenoides
* Pittosporum tenuifolium
* Fern species
* Broom, Carmichaelia
* Bush lawyer, Rubus cissoides
* Broadleaf, Griselinia littoralis
* Cabbage tree, Cordyline australis
* Whiteywood, Melicytus ramiflorus
* Wineberry, Aristotelia serrata
* Five finger, Pseudopanax arboreus
* Pepper tree, Horopito, Pseudowintera colorata

Tracks were well maintained, shared-use tracks with MTBs. As it was a hot, nor'wester day we had Raincliff Forest to ourselves.

Four days later we returned to wander Raincliff Forest tracks above Middle Valley Rd. We wandered the other bit of Hoare Track & Mackay Track, which formed a slender figure 8 walk. It took us about 2.5 hours, much longer than the recommended times on the car park board. Presumably those times were for MTBs. Sometimes an MTB track paralleled the walking track, avoiding many wooden stairs up steep slopes. Besides tall forest trees, there were magnificent views of distant Fox Peak & Devils Peak, seen from the western extremity of Hoare Track.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.