Korimako corner

Korimako Corner is at the Clyde Railhead end of the Otago Central Rail Trail, at the corners of Springvale Road and State Highway 8.

Korimako corner is being used to highlight the habitats and species that have been lost and are continuing to decline in our local area. These plants have been grown in our nursery by volunteers, from seeds collected from the local hills, valleys, and plains and where populations of plants that once grew here no longer exist, from the closest known sources. It is hoped this will be a showcase site and will encourage other community groups to carry out planting projects. It is already encouraging native birds, we have already seen korimako (bellbird) visiting and we have named the site in its honour.

The story so far...

According to NZ Rail Maps, in the late 1970’s this siding was created for the Ministry of Works and the construction of the Clyde dam, when the main line was deviated for the formation of the new highway to Cromwell, from dry, grassy pasture. After the Otago Central Railway was closed the Clyde yard was handed over to the Department of Conservation in 1993 as part of the Rail Trail development.

This photo was taken in 1981. Korimako Corner is the area marked in red.

Sourced from https://www.retrolens.nz

In 2011 the Department of Conservation in Otago launched a kōwhai scheme, named 'Project Gold’. Initiated by DOC Otago botanist John Barkla. His dream was to see kōwhai and then native forest, once again flourish in Otago. The increase in kōwhai and other native trees would attract more native birds such as tūī, bellbird/korimako and wood pigeon/kererū. The first planting was undertaken on the 25th of September, 2011 and is part of the established bund planting you see today.

In 2017 HNHT started actively planting here, continuing the native planting started by DoC around 2007.

In August 2019 a section of our original plantings (approximately 100 plants) was temporarily dug up. This was to lay a pipeline through the site as part of the CODC Clyde/Alexandra water upgrade. Interestingly, after 7 days above ground, the plants (mostly) are actually doing very well. Perhaps something to do with the compacted ground being loosened up…..

Korimako corner is both a dryland planting experiment and a living herbaria of wild sourced dryland local native plants. The climate is extreme- very hot, cold, and exposed. Along with it’s recent past as an industrial site with modified soil. In fact, there is really no topsoil to speak of at all- just gravel of various sizes, buried concrete, steel, tar seal and the odd bit of rubbish. It makes for a very tough environment. If the plants can survive here they can survive anywhere….

Haehaeata Natural Heritage Trust has planted well in excess of 700 plants to date on this site. There are 69 species, from the tiny Leptinella conjuncta which practically disappears into the gravel, to the massive (sometime in the future) tōtara, Podocarpus hallii. Of these species, 24 are on the 'New Zealand Threatened Species' list. We are continuing to plant, but at a much slower pace and have learnt much from the failures. We are now targeting the smaller alluvial terrace type species. While they are better suited to the dry environment, they suffer more from weed competition.

We have not done this alone. We are grateful for the support from DoC and the hundreds of volunteer hours given to us from the Clyde Lions, the ‘public day’ planters, HNHT volunteers and last but not least our ‘summer waterers’, who are vital to getting our larger shrubs and tree species through the summers while they establish themselves.