Otago's hills are home to many species of tiny native fish called galaxiids. The name refers to the metallic sparkles some of them bear, which resemble stars. Otago has more of these fish that any other part of New Zealand. The fish shown on the right is a Central Otago Roundhead galaxiid, found only in the Taiari river and a couple of neighbouring catchments.
The Taiari Flathead galaxiid is also found in the upper Taiari.
Central Otago Roundhead Galaxiid (Galaxias anomalus) Photo: On Lee Lau
Tuna and Lamprey
Longfin Eel Photo: Gusmonkeyboy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Native eels (tūna) and lamprey migrate hundreds of kilometres from the ocean to live in the upper Taiari. Tuna will live for up to 100 years in the river system before making their way to the sea to breed. Lamprey migrate the other way, spending much of their adult lives at sea before heading up into the river to breed. Lamprey are heavily dependent on pheromones released from their larvae in order to find their way upriver, therefore destruction of stream habitat can be devastating for their migratory ability. Similarly, eels are heavily impacted by dams that block their migration routes and prevent them getting out to sea when their time to breed arrives.
New Zealand scaup Photo: Michal Klajban
The upper Taiari was once a teeming haven for native wildfowl, many species of which are now extinct. Today, it is still full of ducks and geese, although most of these are introduced species. Geese in particular are viewed as a pst by local farmers and part of Tiaki Maniototo's role is managing their numbers through regular culls.
Carex tenuiculmis Photo: John Barkla
The threatened native plants Lepidium sisymbrioides, mousetail (Myosurus minimus subsp. novae-zelandiae) (a spring annual), Carex tenuiculmis (a sedge) and Deschampsia cespitosa (a grass) can be found on the scroll plain.