Where the mountain shrubland zone is dense and extensive (Fig. 91
) it is easy to be impressed both by the variety of species present and by their range in leaf form (from large and leathery to needle-or scale-like) and in colour (from dark green to yellow-green or even orange-red). Unfortunately, if no tracks are present, this pleasing first impression may soon be dissipated by the discomforts and frustrations of trying to make progress. The branches of some of the larger shrubs lie on and branch over the ground for considerable distances, so one alternates between trying to push through and between them and attempting to
Figure 90 Differences in zonation near tree line where beech is present and where it is absent.
Figure 91 Mountain shrubland on Mt. Taranaki (Egmont). Beech (Nothofagus) forest does not occur on this mountain.
Photo: J. W. Dawson.
scramble over their tops. After perhaps hours of snail-like progress it is a great relief to reach the open alpine vegetation above or the forest below.