Southern Alps: Beech Forests and Subalpine Grasslands

The Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation Great Walks, takes hikers from the beech forests and Route Burn (river) on the eastern slopes of the Southern Alps, above bushline/treeline over the Harris Saddle and into the Hollyford River watershed with views of the Darran mountains and subalpine tussock grasslands, before falling below bushline again in the wet, mountain beech forests near Lake Mackenzie. There are several key elevational and environmental transitions that take place along this track, including shifts from woody to herbaceous vegetation, the separation between Red, Silver, and Mountain Beech, shifts in the abundance of epiphytes, lichens, and mosses, and changes in the nature of the aquatic systems.

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