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SANDY POINT TO - MAORI POINT
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expansive terrace landforms of open character with long distance views and marked absence of trees, river-cut scarps, dryland plant and insect communities, Pimelea pulvinaris., kanuka woodland
In the Upper Clutha valley, the Clutha River follows a meandering route through a glacially-widened south east trending depression formed along the Grandview Fault between the Pisa and Grandview ranges.
The rather blunt ice-scoured northeast end of the schist fault-block Pisa Range is the valley wall to the southwest. It is typified by strongly rolling to steep stream-dissected terrain, with rounded bed-rock shoulders representing different ice levels and broadly convex to planar slopes from the smoothing and steepening action of the passing valley glacier ice. Resistant outcrops of rock have been left as low ridges and shoulders protruding through valley fill, exhibiting steep bluffy areas where the ice has plucked rock. Dissection of the ice-worn bedrock mountain sides has been slight to moderate, producing a number of shallow parallel gullies. Most of these join at the base as Poison Creek, the only sizeable stream to enter the Clutha from this side forming a steep-sided boulder and gravel filled gully incised in the valley fill. There are two other minor tributary streams to north and south of this neither of which have formed a gully of any note. Heavy peri-glacial conditions have shaped and patterned the broadly rolling summit of the range and produced many tors and fretted bedrock outcrop over the summit and sides of the range. This bold tor-studded block mountain range is quintessential Central Otago, a spectacular backdrop especially under snow and low clear light conditions highlighting the topographical details. It is the highest of the Central Otago block fault mountain ranges, rising to over 1400m at the north end skyline.
To the northeast the Grandview range of the Lindis area encloses the valley, rising to around 1000m altitude. The topography contrasts with the Pisa Range, being a folded low mountain range complex of steeply dipping schist forming narrower ridges and steep sided deep gullies. Rock outcrop is not a major feature of the terrain facing the valley. Ridges are long and undulating. The range side forming the Clutha valley has been glacially smoothed and steepened as well and the range terminates at the south east end in a iceworn shoulder at about SOOm altitude. Its surface Is moderately dissected with a rhythm of small gullies some with larger head basins than others. There are no tributaries entering the Clutha from this side. In fact drainage is captured in a channel along the base of the range. Coalescing small alluvial fans form an apron softening the range-valley floor junction and partially masking elevated remnants of older higher outwash surfaces. These landforms have been truncated in the past by river action, leaving a prominent scarp towards the south east end of the valley. At the southeast end, the river has in the past flowed in a strong loop and formed a circular scarp. This landform continues around in a southwest direction across the valley floor as a narrow finger of older outwash surface forming Maori Point, the bounding landform for this section.
The lower slopes of the mountain ranges and the valley floor contain a
Photos top left clockwise:
View down river between Grandview Mountains left and Pisa Range right;. Sandy Point middle left
View downriver from Sandy Point to Maori Point, clearly showing entrenchment ofriver in outwash plain
Strong meander loops near Maori Point including Yorkeys Bend (bottom photo panorama)
View up river from Maori Point showing remnant elevated outwash surface forming the point with circular scarp further back; rocky gorge in foreground, also detracting gravel pit
Photos top left clockwise:
Rocky.gorge near Maori Point with dense kanuka on rocky face behind Sparse gr.assland, herb, sweet brier cover typical of terrace treads Moss field on younger river side terraces tread
Short tu ssock remna nt on lower terrace tread
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history of successive advance and retreat of valley glaciers in the Pleistocene period. The structural depression that forms the valley has been filled with vast amounts of alluvium from fluvioglacial deposits mainly. There is relatively little recent alluvium, restricted in this section to the first 2km or so at Sandy Point where the river has formed large point bar floodplains of cobble sized rocks and boulders.
At the top end on the true right, there are older outwash and moraine deposlts forming more gently rolling terrain elevated some 20m above the main valley floor.
Otherwise the river is entrenched in a river-sculpted terraced landscape of altitude 260-300m. The river over thousands of years has wandered in large loops across the valley floor, aggrading at times, degrading at others in a rhythm determined by the pulse of the glacier ice. This has left a stepped series of remnant outwash plain terrace treads with steep curving scarps, some short, others high. Older scarps tend to be softened by weathering and denser vegetation cover. On the true right the river has flowed around a resistant outcrop of schist rock, filling in a valley between the range slope and the hill, exiting through the gap now occupied by Poison Creek. Presently the river is entrenched several terrace levels into the valley floor. It forms a single thread meandering channel with high, steep scarps on the outer bends, some actively eroding such as the impressive horse-shoe scarp of Yorkeys Bend where there is a strong meander loop. Terraced cobbly to bouldery point bars lie inside the river bends.
A feature of this section is a grouping of large angular boulders sitting on the terrace tread at Maori Point. These are thought to have originated from an historic landsllde, now left high and dry as the river has removed finer material around them.
The climate of the area is dry sub-humid with annual rainfall S70-780mm but with a marked altitude gradient up the range sides where much precipitation falls as snow or fog. Valley floor annual rainfall is less than 600mm. Summers are hot and dry and winters are very cold with heavy frosts. Diurnal temperature ranges are high in the frequent calm clear conditions, which in winter often cause an inversion layer bringing persistent fog which may last for days at a time.
Suited to the harsh conditions, grassland and shrub vegetation forms the land cover which is a mix of exotic and native species. Large patches of dense mature kanuka woodland are a feature of this section. A notable area covers the rock face at the base of the Pisa Range between Poison Creek and Maori Point, now a conservation area. Kanuka patches are found alongside the river and on steep rocky hillsides throughout, often in combination with grey scrub (a mix of matagouri, olearia, coprosma and mountain wineberry), native broom and porcupine shrub. Sweet brier is wide spread, especially thick on the scarps, stonier terrace treads and dry rocky hillsides. The more recent terrace scarps tend to be sparsely vegetated, typically exotic perennial weeds and grasses, short tussock and sweet brier. A few groups of wilding pines are to be found along the terrace lands, and stringers of willows line the river for long stretches with the occasional flax bush or coprosma shrub. Gorse and broom are common along the river as well, often forming impenetrable thickets. Backswamps of rushes and sedges occur in places close to the river as do dry stony rnossfields.
Kowhai trees are often present on sunny range slopes, and it is possible there is the occasional remnant of totara forest which is generally thought to have covered many areas on the ranges only a few hundred years ago. Remnants are present on the northeast shoulder of the Pisa Range nearby. The terrace lands where not cultivated, support a speclallsed community of indigenous dry land flora and fauna although infused now with exotics such as St Johns Wort, sheeps sorrel and an exotic Acaena species and being
infested with rabbits. Various small native grasses, mat plants, dwarf shrubs and herbaceous plants along with the soft grey pillows of Pimelea pulvinaris, porcupine shrub and native broom are special to these dry open exposed places. Some of these species are only found in the Upper Clutha dry lands, others occur in only a few other places in the country. The vegetation supports an equally special insect community.
Short tussock grassland was widespread through the valley before European pastoralism but now only exists in remnant patches on the river terraces, along roadsides and over the range slopes intermixed with exotic pasture grasses and weeds. It grades into snow tussock at round 800~ 1200m depending on aspect. Grassland cover to the ridge tops is a feature of the Lindis area giving a soft fine textured appearance.
The deeper terrace and fan soils have been cultivated generally and support a geometric patchwork of exotic pasture and feed crops and in some places, commercial food crops. Some paddocks are border dyke irrigated. Coniferous and poplar shelter belts line some paddock boundaries but trees are generally absent from the outwash terraces closer to the river preserving the open character of these expansive wind swept surfaces.
Pastoralism is - or was - the dominant land use of the valley floor and sides, with land held in large pastoral lease sheep stations. Most of the hill land and the stonier drier terraces are LUC Class VI and VII suited only to extensive graZing, with the deeper fan and terrace soils being Class IV and III. Extensive grazing use was made of the ranges and drier terrace lands, supported by AOSTD, whilst the deeper soils of the fans and higher terraces have been developed for more intensive pastoral and cropping use. Over the last 15 years or so however, the pastoral leases have gone through a tenure review, the outcome being the free-holding of land on the Mid-Run/Lake McKay and Queensberry Station leases on the southwest side of the river and subsequent subdivision into small holdings either as lifestyle blocks or for intensive production units. Vineyards are making an appearance along the terrace lands, as are numerous access roads and boundary fences, fragmenting and scarring the landscape. There will be many more houses and gardens dotted through the currently sparsely settled landscape. The ecological restoration of some areas will also be an outcome as some subdivision conditions require the retention of existing shrublands and restrict land use to ecological restoration or at least maintenance of the status quo. Some freehold terrace land on the true left immediately downstream of Sandy Point has also been subdivided into a number of lifestyle blocks, as yet awaiting domestic development. The landscape ofthis part of the Upper Clutha valley is on the brink of major change.
There are also latent proposals to dam the Clutha river for hydro-electric power generation which would create a Lake Queensberry and a Luggate Lake, which would completely alter the current river landscape. These proposals are part of the scheme devised in the 1970's which saw the construction of the high dam at Clyde and the creation of Lake Dunstan. State highways run across the terrace lands parallel to and 500-1000m away from the river on both sides in this section, from which there are occasional glimpses of the river and views of the distinctive terraced lands. In low clear light conditions these can be visually spectacular.
Gold mining tailings are present at Maori Point on the true right; and a gravel pit marks the downstream end of this section at Maori Point on the true left.
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The general character of this section is one of an open pastoral landscape on a large scale with a simple visual appearance dominated by brown, gold and grey colours. There are glimpses of indigenous character. Close to the river the landscape is more natural although not necessarily indigenous, with a sense of freedom and separation from settlement, traffic and more intensive land uses. There is also a sense of imminent change however through subdivision and lifestyle block development which will greatly
Photos from top to bottom:
Subdivision of riverside land into lifestyle blocks often results in substantial ornamental fencing,
Real estate sign for land just downstream of Sandy Point
Swallows Crossing Vineyard,. a recent development
Extent of land under subdivision for lifestyle lots on the terrace lands below Sandy Point
diminish attributes of naturalness and remoteness and create a more visually diverse, greener landscape.
Sar:Jdy Point to Ri:vertands
- fiFSf 2kr'n of r.iver conidor, wider river valley with recent floodplain, gorse and broom
Rivertands to Maori Point
- narrower valley with little fleedplain development, kanuka shrubland, rocky gorge section
Mainly natural places, unusual rocky gorge (in valley fill area generally) and dry land terrace values; large boulder deposit. Tailings. Cableway. Also specific highway views of the river.
Note whole river corridor in this section is of significance as setting for rafters, kayakers, and fishers
LAND TYPE: 14 Outwash Plains
20 Dry Inland Basin and Major Valley
Range and Basin BR7 (Upper Clutha) with some enclosure to northwest by BR9 (Lind is) BR7 is from range crest to range crest
Lindis District (CENTRAL OTAGO REGION) Pisa District (CENTRAL OTAGO REGION)
(Clutha River is the boundary broadly; river corridor environment similar on both sides in this study; surrounding viewshed varies)
Valley floor is 25 Tarras (valley basin with terraces) enclosed by 14 Lindis (finely textured tussock covered low complex of mountains) and 10 Dunstan (high block mountain Pisa Range, schist outcrops)
Naturalness high Predominance of open river terraces and outwash plain
overtooked by tussock mountain range land; mostly
naturalised exotic cover mixed with indigenous. Limited
development within river landscape corridor. Swallows
Crossing Vineyard and gravel pit detracts.
Distinctiveness high due to the strongly open character of the undeveloped
Vividness expansive outwash surfaces and the flights of terraces,
Memorability especially in low clear light conditions; kanuka woodland on
rocky slopes; boulder group at Maori Point a "gateway~ to this
part of the Upper Clutha; rocky gorge at Maori Point unique
between Cromwell and Wanaka
Uniqueness moderate not unique locally, downstream and upstream sections also in
terraced lands but in whole of river context these open
undeveloped terrace lands are special to the Upper Clutha.
Rocky gorge is unique in this and adjacent sections but there
are other rocky gorge sections elsewhere on the Clutha
Legibility high terraced landforms under a fine textured grassland cover and 4.\1-
open shrubland are easy to see and they are sharply defined
and well fonned .. Scarps often accentuated by woody cover.
Legibility weakened by land development which fragments
landfonn and confuses natural land cover patterns.
Coherence variable undeveloped areas retain high coherence with uninterrupted
(moderate, flow of landfonn and natural patterns of land cover; where
high) developed, tree plantings. fences, buildings, access tracks and
roads and shapes of crops or pasture planted reduce
coherence where not well related to landfonn and natural land
Complexity variable moderate due to open landscape character with simplicity of
Diversity (moderate, land cover in most places; rocky areas, kanuka woodland, and
Mystery high) strong loops in the river course heighten these attributes in
places. Attributes generally higher within the river valley
compared to the open terrace lands about the river.
Open high currently high due to absence of development and low level of
Character fanning use, dominance of open grasslands and shrublands
Openness high very few buildings or other cultural structures are present
along this section of the river currently
Solitude high marked sense of separation currently from traffic and domestic
development and more intensive fanning uses even though
not far away. Some intrusion at Sandy Point where highway
close to and easily visible from the river area.
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This .section of the river corridor currently has a high to very high natural character generally, although with an exotic flavour due to high percentage of naturalised exotic species. The river flows in a natural channel, mostly cut into gravels and boulders but including a narrow rocky gorge section at Maori Point. There is an overwhelming dominance ·of strong.ly developed alluvial landforms and natural cover - steep raw looking scarps, some impressive in their heIght and powerful curves; open terrace lands under a naturalised grassland cover; naturalised exotic shrubland (sweet brief, gorse and broom) and indigenous shrubland (kanuka, matagouri and grey scrub) over terrace scarps and lower terraces. The willow stringers along the river are naturally occurring but their restriction to a continuous line often only one tree thick is somewhat unnatural.
There are some non-natural intrusions - the occasional fence and shelter belt; the flying fox; the small Swallows Crossing Vineyard just upstream from Maori Point; the highway at Sandy Point, the gravel pit at Maori Point
The extensive pastoral land use and the dry exposed conditions and stony soils have supported the retention of a natural character.
As stated in the description however there is a sense of imminent change due to subdivision into small holding and lifestyle blocks. Already the amount of access roading and boundary fencing has impacted on the natural character and as these properties are developed by their owners, natural character will be significantly weakened along substantial sections of the river.
• removal of remaining natural shrublands
• access tracks and reading and insensitive fence lines; bladed fence tines
• presence of houses and domestic development close to the river
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• development of land for more intensive uses close to the river especially
vineyards, tree crops, orchards and irrigated pasture and crops
• cultivation of dry terraces for irrigated pasture
• gravel extraction and mining
• increase in presence of structures along or crossing the river
• modification of the river channel
• wilding pine spread
• spread of gorse and broom
• retain and augment all indigenous shrublands
• retain existing open terrace lands that still support native species and keep in
• encourage indigenous or at least a natural cover on scarps and in gullies
• remove wilding pines, gorse and broom
• remove most of the willows and plant more appropriate exotic and native species
• encourage development to keep away from the river
• sensitive and discreet siting of tracks, roads and structures including any recreational facilities
• encourage ecological restoration conditions in subdivisions
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1 Maori Point Boulders
scattered large boulders reportedly from an historic landslide; prominent landscape feature
2 Maori Gorge
narrow rocky gorge; gold mining tailings on riparian terrace
3 Flying Fox Cableway
4 dryland terraces
dryland terraces home to specialised flora and fauna, eg., Pimelea pulvtnaris
Poison Creek Kanuka Conservation Area (RAP B3)
Area of Significant Inherent Landscape Value identified in Tenure Review
(in addition to RAPs)
Recommended Area for Protection (dryland terraces)
Lindis Ecological District RAP A4 and Pisa District RAP 82
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... _ UMIT OF VIEWSHED
LANDSCAPE CHARACTER AREA AND RIVER SECTION BOUNDARY
RIVER LANDSCAPE CORRIDOR
IMPORTANT BACKDROP LANDSCAPE
RIVER REACH BOUNDARY
IMPORTANTV,IEW OF RIVER FROM HIGHWAY
RIVER LANDSCAPE ASSESSMENT MA!P 1 SANDY POINT TO MAORI POINT
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CLUTHA MATA AU PARKWAY PROJECT
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