Trip to Covenants and Limestone Bluffs
Visit Warwick Day’s Covenant at South Hillend, Limestone Bluffs at Dipton and Collies Covenant. A group of 14 set off in a forecast of hail showers to Warwick and Wendy Day’s farm in the Taringatura Hills. We climbed aboard 4wd trailers and truck to the high points of the farm where Warwick explained his farming philosophy based on a “love of nature”. Consequently their farm has great variety with productive areas, lots of shelter for animals, covenanted areas of tussock, wetland and rocky outcrops where geckos can be seen (though none today unfortunately). Then on to a higher point where we had a good view of Warwicks largest created lake - one of 30-40 wetland areas on the property. The lake was full of moulting paradise ducks with a few scaup or diving ducks also seen. On the drive home we admired extensive native and exotic shelterbelts. It is heartening to see that productive farming can go hand in hand with nature. Warwick then took us to see some magnificent scarlet mistletoes flowering on his brother Malcolm’s farm – the beech forest there is also protected under a QEII Covenant.
Lunchstop was in Steven and Belinda Clearwater’s garden - where the sun blazed down on us. As we ate, Steven and Belinda told the story of the Castlerock Limestone feature which is on their farm. Despite the fact that as landowners they wish to protect this iconic landscape, a historic mining licence prevents such protection. The Clearwater’s and many locals and interested people have rallied to publicise the destruction of the top of the limestone feature by mining company Ravensdown and it is hoped that such publicity will eventually stop the destruction of this nationally important geological feature. The Clearwater’s are cautiously optimistic about the future protection of the outcrop - but are not “popping the champagne just yet” - Steven said. After lunch we walked to the top of the limestone bluffs and right across the top, overlooking the quarry. The Clearwater’s have made a track through the tangly shrubs of Coprosma, Raukaua and Corokia. Earlier Brian Rance had spoken about the rare shrub Teucridium which grows on the outcrop and we observed the tiny mistletoes growing on the shrubs. Also seen was a New Zealand falcon which is nesting on the bluffs.
A final destination was Collies covenant where a large gully of native vegetation had been fenced off from stock and protected – right under the Bastion – an impressive landmark feature of this area. We arrived home to Invercargill to be greeted by a very impressive rainstorm accompanied by thunder and lightening!