Planting Native Trees in the Mighty Cardrona Valley


Picture thousands of native seedlings beginning a new life at the base of the Cardrona Alpine Resort, just 50 minutes out of Queenstown. The Plant a Seed Project is one of Cardrona and Treble Cone’s conservation projects, to restore and conserve the natural landscape of the mountains. This project means planting native trees at Cardrona to encourage a biodiverse landscape that can resemble an undisturbed maunga / mountain.

Halfway (roughly) between Queenstown and Wanaka is one of New Zealand’s prime ski fields, Cardrona Alpine Resort. This mountain is the home of skiing and snowboarding in winter, and mountain biking in summer. Views from the top encompass the Southern Alps, and the fresh alpine air invokes a great energy. The Plant a Seed project aims to treat this maunga like the treasure it is. Heaps of native trees and shrubs are being planted, and that’s just the beginning. The power of planting natives and encouraging growth in this environment ripples into the community, with locals empowered to get involved and educate future generations on the importance of conserving the mountains that provide so much outdoor adventure and joy.

1. The Plant a Seed Project

The Plant a Seed project is a mass replanting programme. At the crack of dawn, when one would usually gear up for a mountain biking expedition, holes are being dug and good planting practices are in play. In an effort to ‘give back’ to the mountain that gives so much, teams at Cardrona and Treble Cone, with the help of the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, are spending summer days tending to the nursery at the base of the mountain and planting seedlings. There are tussocks and other natives already planted and many more are destined for the area. These efforts are all in the spirit of transforming the environment into a thriving and biodiverse landscape.

2. Planting Natives at Cardrona

An already striking mountainside is about to be reshaped with the introduction of plenty of native shrubs and trees. Over 4,000 new natives have already been planted on the lower part of Cardrona, with no plans of slowing down. Like many natural landscapes, introduced pests and weeds have impacted the land. The addition of a well-loved ski field means there’s room to restore the mountain and bring back the wild and living life forms of the land. A passion for skiing in winter lends itself to a desire to see Cardrona and Treble Cone cared for in an ecological sense.

3. Cardrona’s very own nursery

A plant nursery has been established at the base of Cardrona near the car park. The Plant a Seed project is extensive, with a need for new plants, plant guards, irrigation systems and fencing. The onsite nursery will help the teams steam ahead with lots of planting. Keep your eyes peeled on your way up Cardrona for freshly planted shrubs among the grasslands. With the ambitious vision of restoring the wider environment, planting has been extended to Treble Cone as well, with new plants decorating the base of the mountain near the access road.

4. Community and Education

The Cardrona Foundation stems from a desire to improve connection in its community, and this includes fostering a relationship with the maunga / mountain. Local schools are getting kids involved in the planting of natives at Cardrona too. It’s a chance for young ones to learn more about horticulture and conservation. With the goal of planting ten thousand trees on the mountain, the support of the local community is going a long way.

5. The Big Plan

The big picture of this project is to restore the biodiversity of the mountain and to plant the seed for future conservation initiatives that will continue to regenerate the life force of Cardrona. Keep coming to the Alpine Resort for play, and admire the progress of the team with hundreds of natives growing on the mountain. With the growth of native plants comes the return of wildlife and birdlife too.

The Plant a Seed project is just one of the notches in The Cardrona Foundation belt. Other projects include The Kārearea Project, Ride Tamariki and All In. Dig into each juicy project to find out just how exciting these initiatives are. For those inspired to give financial aid, donations to The Cardrona Foundation can be made via the Cardrona website. There are no landfill bins up Cardrona and Treble Cone and they don’t sell anything that is packaged in plastic, in an effort to reduce waste that is destined for landfill. Recycling stations and compost bins are plentiful. These measures are in place to help preserve the amazing natural playgrounds that these mountains have become, and it’s only the beginning of conservation work in this neck of the woods.

Donate to the cause with Cardrona here.

This article was created in paid partnership with RealNZ.


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