Sports and Outdoors

Nature Plants

As you would expect, the plants that you will see growing here are adapted to a semi-arid climate. Plants have to be hardy and able to survive cold, dry winters and hot, dry summers. While the farms you pass may be irrigated, the plants and wildflowers beside the trail exist in a natural state. Some are introduced (deliberately or not) and many of these species, such as wild thyme and sweet briar are now growing rampantly across the dry hills.

Summer is colourful. A purple haze in the distance will be tall vipers bugloss flowering in mass. Tall yellow spikes of woolly mullein tower over the orange California poppies and the yellow-flowered stonecrop plants that hug the gravel path.
On dry, rocky hillsides around Alexandra the thorny, tiny-leafed native matagouri shrubs look as though they have died – but they are perfectly designed to reduce moisture loss. You may also see some spiny-leafed speargrass near the higher parts of the track – these two ruthless native plants slashed the legs of early explorers. The hills bordering the trail are still the domain of native tussock varieties, although burning and stock grazing have had an impact.

If you are interested in ecosystems, you can see rare saltpan plants at Sutton Salt Lake, desert dryland plants at Flat Top Hill Conservation area, or you can get into tussock country by tramping in the Oteake Conservation Park or the Rock and Pillars.