The south coast is fringed by steep slopes - would they qualify to be called cliffs? Houses tend to be built along the bottom, close to water's edge, or perched on the tops, catching the views and the wind. Generally it's too steep to build in between, and the plants growing there secure the sometimes slippery slopes.
Owhiro Bay - distribution of houses.
The vegetation covering these slopes is like a lumpy blanket of plants which mould to the contours of the hill, sculpted by the wind, protected from damage by their low profile. Desiccation is limited by their grey or small or strappy leaves. By hugging the slopes and huddling together these tough plants create microclimates which shelter less tough plants. This slope, by Owhiro Bay, has a collection which includes NZ flax, gorse, pittosporums, ngaio, cordylines, coprosmas, artemisias, and a wiry mounding plant which I haven't yet identified - there are quite a few native plants like this, an intriguing group. Golden flowered gorse, a pestiferous introduced weed in other parts of the country, here acts as a "nursery plant" providing the conditions for seedlings of native plants to grow.
Plants on the slopes by the coast at Owhiro Bay.
Note the ubiquitous seagulls - it is difficult to get a photo around here without one intruding, and especially in evening shots distant seagulls often speckle my images like sensor dust! But they surely qualify as toughies, real survivors.