Beautiful Arrowtown is the setting out point for outdoors adventure. Where you breathe the clear air and marvel at the surrounds.
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Arrowtown's surrounds were shaped over millions of years. Extremes of heat and cold formed its base landscape and geology. The most common local rock is Schist, which has been used to build beautiful homes and walls since the settlers.
Schist was formed by a process called metamorphism, where layers of 250 million year old volcanic rock and sedimentary material were combined with huge pressures and temperatures of up to 400°C.
Schist was interspersed layers of quartz, seams of gold, and copper. The Crown Terrace view point on the road to Wanaka is a good place to see how the glaciers then carved the Wakatipu basin, as periods of ice advanced and retreated.
This ice began to melt 14,000 years ago. Slowly, the plant species colonized the area.
Mãori explorers had traveled through the Wakatipu basin for about a thousand years before the Gold Rush. Finds of Pounamu (Jade) workings at Lake Hayes, Moa Hunting at Arrow Junction, and artifacts near Gibbston and near Macetown, trace their steps.
Before gold miners and pastoralists, the Wakatipu Basin was a shrubland with species like Manuka and the thorny Matagouri common. The cover of native bush and Mountain beech forest in the shady gullies was home to many species of birdlife, and the hillsides tussock herbfields, with sharp pointed Speargrass or Taramea, punctuating the slopes.
Fire, and invasive plant species and animals introduced by Europeans, altered the ecological balance.
Although the Moa – some as tall as 12 feet – became extinct through hunting in pre European times, many other native birds have vanished in the last 150 years.
Rabbits were introduced in Southland in 1867 and within about fifteen years, bred to plague proportions, and spread throughout the South Island, eating pastures and starving the farmed sheep. Many farmers were bankrupted or forced to leave their land.
The 1880's introduction of Stoats, Weasels and Ferrets was meant to control rabbit numbers, but native birds were easier prey. Plants like Blackberries and Briar Rose were introduced by settlers as hedges and as a source of Vitamin C. However they also spread out of control and became weeds covering large areas.
Today, the hillside around Arrowtown is covered in mainly exotic or introduced trees and shrubs, many turning the hillside to the autumn flame reds and yellows, for which Arrowtown is famed.
The pretty calls of Native song birds, such as the Bell bird and Tui, are heard in the trees and gardens in town.
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