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Des Williams.

Des Williams

By Des Williams, DOC Communications Advisor

I was especially proud of my old home town—Tuatapere, in Western Southland—when I returned for a rare visit on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

A little glade through the Tuatapere Scenic Reserve was resplendent with several large flowerings of Peraxilla colensoi which is more commonly known as scarlet mistletoe.

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Scarlet mistletoe at Tuatapere Scenic Reserve

I have never seen such brilliant colour in the reserve before—mind you I am never there at this time of year.

DOC’s Invercargill-based botanist/ecologist, Brian Rance, told me that this part of the reserve is a noted site (and so close to the road), as are other parts of the reserve around the Tuatapere Domain.

So, I now add scarlet mistletoe to the broad sweep of Te Waewae Bay, the Hump Ridge and Fiordland mountains, the Longwoods silver beech forest and Takitimu Mountains as icons of my birth place!

Longwoods silver beech forest at Tuatapere. Photo: Alastair Morrison.

Longwoods silver beech forest at Tuatapere

In April, 11-year-old Summer Jubb tackled the mighty Kepler Track in Fiordland National Park after her family won the experience as part of DOC’s involvement in the Venture Southland campaign.

Summer and her dad conquered the whole track in some challenging weather. Her mum, Mel, plus younger sisters, 9-year-old Poppy and 6-year-old Bella, met up with them at Luxmore Hut and Moturau Huts during their adventure.

Summer writes:

Let me tell you about my experiences on the ridges and valleys of the Kepler Track.

Summer on the Kepler Track with mountainous peaks.

Summer high up on the Kepler Track

The first day was so much up hill — it just kept going up, up, up. About three quarters of the way up there were limestone boulders. They were so high and huge that it made me feel very small.

Summer Jubb and her family walking through bush on the Kepler Track.

Walking, up, up and up!

The bearded forest (that’s what we called it) was amazing— there were drips of moss hanging off the trees that looked like a beards.

When we finally got to Luxmore Hut we were exhausted, but we still had enough energy to go for a 10 minute walk to the Luxmore Caves. They are amazing! Then I found out that food is really, really good when you are cold and hungry.

Jubb family photo by a DOC sign on the Kepler Track.

Family photo on the Kepler Track

I think the second day was the best. It was first up hill then in the alpine and ridges of the mountains. I loved the part when you are on the top lookout, when you can see everything below you. When there is an hour and a half to go it is all down, down, down. There are 97 switch backs and 24 stoat traps to count along the way. Finally there was Iris Burn Hut. There is a river just by the hut that you can go swimming in, it is quite cold though. As well as the river there is an amazing waterfall that’s 20 minutes away from the hut.

Summer high up on a ridge along the Kepler Track.

Along a ridge on the Kepler Track

Thankfully, the third day is all flat. There were these gorgeous purple mushrooms along the way. At Moturau hut there is a lake that is just warm enough to swim in and cool down your feet.

A misty valley on the Kepler Track.

A misty valley

I loved all my experiences on the great four day walk known as the Kepler Track. It was awesome to do with my family.

John Robinson who took this picture while mountain biking beside Lake Hāwea, in Hāwea Conservation Park, Otago.

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