A southerly front over the south coast - winter's dramas continue

The days are getting longer and spring is just around the corner, but winter still puts on a good show for us.  A southerly front brings a biting cold wind, heavy rain, and a reminder that there is just a great stretch of open ocean between us and Antarctica.  Brrrrrrr!

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A cold southerly front heads across Island Bay, misty rain over the water and dramatic clouds darkening the sky.  A wonderful sight as long as you're under cover!

Gorgeous greens at the beginning of the Routeburn

The Routeburn track is one of New Zealand's so-called Great Walks (aka tramping tracks), but you don't have to go far at all to enjoy the wonderful greens of the beech forest - there is an easy nature walk at the beginning of the track.

Crossing the first swingbridge over the Route Burn, itself a lovely aqua colour, you see the banks covered with the greens of ferns, grasses, mosses, tree seedlings, some lichens.

Soft mosses cover almost everything, and the fine green foliage of the beech trees creates a very dreamy peaceful atmosphere.

A profusion of mosses, filmy ferns, and the dangling little white flowers of Luzuriaga parviflora - a native plant new to me but found throughout the country in cool wet mountain forests.

Lots of trickling water and little rivulets.

Ferns were the predominant ground cover in the somewhat drier areas.

But mostly it was moist and mossy, a perfect environment for filmy ferns - I was delighted to see such extensive groups of these tiny delicate treasures.

Mosses were covering one half of this large rock, filmy ferns were most prominent on the other half.  Unfortunately I didn't have a suitable lens to take close-ups of the filmy ferns, mosses etc.  Next time!

Closer to the river the forest was more open.

Looking back at the terrain that the Routeburn track enters you can see that there was no shortage of moisture - with mist, rain, and a recent summer snowfall in the mountains.

And as we left, the weather was closing in - a reminder of why you have to be well prepared whenever you head into the mountains - even if you are just doing a short easy walk.

New Year - crimson pohutukawa, golden pingao, capricious weather

It's a New Year but here in Wellington we continue to enjoy the same old weather patterns - southerly then northerly winds and gales, dull then sunny days, flat grey then vibrant blue skies, calm seas then large swells and crashing waves.  Never boring, but often frustrating. 

The crimson flowers of pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa, New Zealand Christmas tree) seem to light up on sunny days - seen here at Island Bay, the view across to Baring Head.

And golden pingao (Ficinia spiralis, pīkao, or golden sand sedge) seems to light up a leaden grey day - here on the rocky shore at Te Raekaihau Point on Wellington's south coast.

With our weather being so reliably changeable and capricious, the beauty of plants is reliable in a rather more welcome way.