Our Region

Taieri Pet

This is a "pet" you may not want to see - unless you are a meteorologist.

The Rock and Pillars range of mountains that border the Strath Taieri valley are associated with a highly unusual cloud formation that is found in very few places around the world. The Rock and Pillars have a very flat top with steep slopes on either side, and they lie perpendicular to the prevailing westerly winds. When these “fohn” winds are forced up and over the range it can create a dramatic cloud formation that the locals call “The Taieri Pet.” Meteorologists call it a “lenticular billow cloud.” It can be a single lens-shaped cloud or it can be shaped like a huge stack of pancakes with clear air between the cloud layers. It may seem stationary, but the wind is circulating rapidly through the cloud. Thankfully, it is usually at a high altitude and glider pilots appreciate the powerful updrafts that can lift them to great heights. If a large “Pet” does form it can very occasionally come down to ground level, and it would become quite dangerous to be out in the open on a bike. Take care on steep embankments or bridges, get off your bike and walk, or if necessary, find a place to shelter, or leave the Trail.