Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

09 October 2010

Haast Road mosses, South Westland New Zealand.

The Haast Pass lies on the south-west corner of New Zealand, north of Fiordland. It is an area that's steep, bush-clad; parts of it are little explored. There are very few tracks and even fewer roads. The main road through the pass connects Central Otago to the West Coast over the main divide of the Southern Alps.

The change from the drier, warmer, gentler landscape of Otago to the wilder West Coast is abrupt because the mountains themselves trap the easterly flow of air coming from the Tasman Sea and cause great dumps of rain on South-Westland. In the space of an hour you can pass from a land of sere tussock grasses to rich rain forests, trees hung with sphagnum moss and wonderfully verdant rock mosses. Those in the illustration lie beside the highway, they glisten with droplets of leaching moisture close by hundreds of silvery cascades that drain slopes whose peaks, more often than not, are wreathed in mist and low cloud.


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By Don Donovan