Wither Hills Ecological District
By: Christopher Cookson
Last Modified: 14-8-2023 13:41
The Wither Hills Ecological District contains the eastern hill country between the Wairau Plain and the Awatere Valley, extending to the sea at Te Parinui o Whiti (Vernon Bluffs). The western boundary of the district is the Blairich River, a tributary of the Awatere. The area is dry, rugged, erosion prone hill country with steep gullies. Most of the area is privately owned, with much of the land having been cleared for agriculture, however pockets of native vegetation remain, often protected by covenants created by land owners. The Wither Hills Farm Park occupies a northern area of the district, and contains a covenant area within the Sutherland Stream catchment, that is the closest area of publicly accessible native habitat to Blenheim.
Notable geographical features include the Taylor River, Te Hau/The Ned, Te Parinui o Whiti (Vernon Bluffs), Taylor, Weld, and Redwood Passes.
The area is steep hill country with Tertiary (from 66-2.6 million years ago) mudstones in the east, and older Mezozoic (from 66-252 million years ago) greywacke mountains in the west, with a few areas of igneous (volcanic) rock, and a few limestone areas. Loess soils prone to erosion on hillsides are common. There are some areas of glacial deposits on the Awatere side of the district.
The Taylor River is the only significant body of water in the district, however there are a number of ephemeral streams.
The area has scattered remnants of indigenous vegetation with patches of tussock grassland, kānuka forest, and dry shrubland. Significant areas of kānuka forest can be found in the Vernon Hills to the east, while a significant covenant area of dryland scrub and forest exists around Te Hau/The Ned on Tempello Farm. Major weed species include gorse, nasella tussock, chilean needle grass, barberry, and boxthorn.
Native Trees and Shrubs
A partial list of some of the indigenous tree species observed in the Wither Hills Ecological District.
Herbaceous Flowering Plants
A wide variety of fern species are found within the Wither Hills Ecological District. A few are able to colonise drier areas, but more species are found in damp location such as the bottom of gullies or shady hillsides. A few of the species include:
Common Pig Fern
Little Hard Fern
A wide variety of native bird species can be found within the district.
A few of the invertebrates found within the Wither Hills Ecological District.
Cite this page
Cookson, C. (2023). Wither Hills Ecological District. Retrieved December, 2, 2023, from https://www.marlboroughonline.co.nz/marlborough/information/natural-history/marlborough-ecological-districts/wither-hills-ecological-district/