Murchison Mountains

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Murchison Mountains
Te Anau and Murchison Mountains.jpg
A view of the Murchison Mountains from Te Anau
Highest point
PeakMt Lyall
Elevation1,892 m (6,207 ft)
Coordinates45°16′31″S 167°32′12″E / 45.27516°S 167.53659°E / -45.27516; 167.53659
Murchison Mountains is located in New Zealand
Murchison Mountains
CountryNew Zealand
Range coordinates45°12′03″S 167°25′49″E / 45.20086°S 167.43017°E / -45.20086; 167.43017
Topo mapGNS Science
Mountain typeMountain Range

The Murchison Mountains are a group of mountains in Fiordland National Park in New Zealand. It is the location where the takahē, a type of bird presumed extinct, was rediscovered in 1948.[1] The highest mountain is Mount Lyall at 1,892 metres (6,207 ft).[2]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Native birds recorded in the area include takahē, mohua, whio, kea, kaka, kakariki, New Zealand falcon, weka, rock wren, tomtit, tui, bellbird, fantail, rifleman, grey warbler, brown creeper, silver-eye, pipit and kiwi.[3]

The 1948 discovery of the takahe, the largest living member of the rail family, happened after unrecognized bird footprints were found, and Geoffrey Orbell, an Invercargill-based physician, led an expedition to find the unknown bird.[4] After this, an area of 500 square kilometres (190 sq mi) was set aside for the conservation of the takahē.[5] To this day it is the only place where wild takahē can be seen.[6]

With the aim of protecting the native bird populations, the New Zealand Department of Conservation started a program in 2002 to control stoats in the area.[3] In 2007, a population increase of stoats in the mountains after a beech and tussock mast seeding led to a halving of the takahē population.[7] The numbers of red deer in the Murchison Mountains steadily grew between 1930 and 1973 but hunting on foot and helicopter reduced the population by 60% between 1973 and 1975.[8] In 1953, W. R. Philipson discovered in the Murchison mountains a new type of plant from the genera pachycladon, in an expedition for the Canterbury Museum.[9]


  1. ^ "Murchison Mountains". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  2. ^ "NZ Topo Map". NZ Topo Map. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b Maddigan, Fraser. "Kiwi in the Murchison Mountains". Geo News. Retrieved 20 May 2019. In 2002, DoC started a low-intensity but large-scale operation to control stoats in the Murchison Mountains. These form a 51,000 ha peninsula on the western side of Lake Te Anau. Protected on three sides by the lake and on the fourth side by remoteness, the area is home to a number of increasingly scarce native birds. Most famous is the takahe, but also present are mohua, blue duck, kea, kaka, kakariki, New Zealand falcon, weka, rock wren, tomtit, tui, bellbird, fantail, rifleman, grey warbler, brown creeper, silver-eye, pipit—and kiwi.
  4. ^ "Gained in telling". Otago Daily Times (26974). 8 January 1949. ISSN 0114-426X. Retrieved 25 March 2019. “This fall the footprints of a big unknown bird were found in the wild mountainous country near Lake Te Anau, on South Island. Dr Geoffrey Orbell. a physician from Invercargill, led an expedition to look for it.
  5. ^ "Fiordland National Park". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 18 May 2019. Unique and endangered wildlife – Fiordland is home of the Takahē Recovery Programme. This unique bird, the largest living member of the rail family, was once thought to be extinct. After the rediscovery of the takahē in the Murchison Mountains in 1948, a special area of 500 square kilometres (190 sq mi) was set aside in Fiordland National Park for its conservation.
  6. ^ "Where takahē live". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Murchison Mountains". Department of Conservation. Life is tough in the takahē's alpine home, but by 2007, things were looking up. The population in the Murchison Mountains had almost reached 200 birds when disaster struck. Following a beech and tussock mast (a mass seeding of beech trees and tussocks which happens every few years), the mountains were besieged by a plague of stoats. Within the span of a few months, the wild population of takahē was halved.
  8. ^ J. Parkes, K. Tustin, L. Stanley (1978). "The history and control of red deer in the takahe area, Murchison Mountains, Fiordland National Park" (PDF). New Zealand Journal of Ecology. New Zealand Ecological Society. 1: 145–152. ISSN 0110-6465. Retrieved 30 May 2019. Numbers of red deer (Cervus elaphus scoticus) increased steadily in this area of New Zealand from the 1930's to 1973 causing extensive damage to vegetation and competition with takahe (Notornis mantelli), a rare flightless bird. Hunting on foot and especially by helicopter reduced the red deer population by 60% between 1973 and 1975 and has nearly eliminated red deer from alpine grasslands which are the main habitat for takahe. Future management for sustained harvest of deer and acceptable competition with takahe is discussedCS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "A New Species of Pachycladon". Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. Royal Society of New Zealand. 84: 497–498. 1 January 1956. ISSN 0303-6758. Retrieved 2 June 2019. In 1953, when taking part in the Canterbury Museum Fiordland Expedition, I collected a small cruciferous plant from rock crevices at 5,000ft on the mountains west of Lake Te Au in the Murchison Range. The plants were very similar to Pachycladon novae-zelandiae in general appearance, but differed in possessing simple, not stellate hairs, and in the crenate, not pinnatifid, leaf margins.

External links[edit]