Sometimes I get to do hard graft in interesting places. A recent overnight stay on the coast south of Kaikoura was brought about by a seek and destroy mission for Old Man’s Beard (OMB), Clematis vitalba, and Banana Passionfruit. It also gave me my second contact with the Kaikoura district since the devastating earthquake over 18 months ago, even though Claverley at the mouth of the Conway River (Piri tutae putaputa) is really on the periphery of the core damage areas. Environmental weeds just haven’t been a priority put up against rebuilding roads, houses, sheds and fences.
This was a revisit to follow up on work done three years ago, long overdue but unavoidable with road closures and a shortage of accommodation with so many houses uninhabitable after the big quake. Three years ago, trees were being pulled down by the weight of vines and there were vines of all ages throughout the native forest remnants that were to be rescued. OMB was spread over a 20m circle having already pulled down the trees in the middle. Banana passionfruit, had vines so big that I dragged my arborists chainsaw into the jungle and with great piles of vines like spaghetti on the ground I fashioned a drill bit to fit into one of those old spiral ratchet screwdrivers and injected a stiff mix of glyphosate into the holes.
Gallery, mouse over for captions or click to enlarge.
Some of my vine drilling had been very effective but on vines that had layered (rooted where the vine touched the ground) or with decayed cores, it hadn’t always done the job.
The real challenge is finding all the banana passionfruit vines and not killing a whole heap of the native vines, particularly as one remnant forest is full of native passionfruit and the vines are near to identical, while the leafy bit 10m up on the outside of the canopy can be 20m away from the vine on the ground.
Gallery: a litany of lianas
Accommodation for the night was a self contained cabin on a local farm. Arriving in dusk I didn’t notice the stunning view until the morning, and as I was leaving I finally noticed the earthquake damage to the adjacent house (soon to be demolished).
Some of the areas to be gone over, are old sea cliffs where getting around relies heavily on swinging off, standing on and hauling up on, the trees, vines and grasses. Topping out from a scramble involving hanging off the wind-sculpted dreads of pohuehue, Muehlenbeckia complexa, I could hear a murmur and much heavy breathing. Raising my head, almost close enough to touch, a mob of young Angus had gathered at the clifftop drawn by my thrashing and muttering, quite unused to seeing a prone human.