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The driest of the dry

Central Otago landscape. Philip Capper CC BY 2.0

The summers are hotter, the winters are colder, and rainfall is less than anywhere else in New Zealand.

In Central Otago, extremes are the norm. The summers are hotter, the winters are colder, and rainfall is less than anywhere else in New Zealand. It’s not particularly hospitable, but there’s something about this piece of land, this rolling expanse of basin and range, that has led many to call it ‘Heartland’.

 

And when you look closely at this heartland, there’s more to its dry expanse than first meets the eye. In this place of extremes, life has adapted into a fascinating myriad of plants and animals, each with its own way of carving out an existence. The resulting ecosystems were unique and rich, but a turbulent history has left them decimated and almost forgotten. Remnants, however, do remain, and conservation and research efforts are on the rise. 

DESERTS, FOR INSTANCE

The loveliest places of all

are those that look as if

there is nothing there

to those still learning to look.

Brian Turner

Plants and animals

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Matagouri in flower. Anna Yeoman 

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Southern grass skink. Carey Knox

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Then and now

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