I recently enjoyed the Environmental Defence Society conference in Auckland. One of the most disturbing talks was by Dr Susan Walker (Research Program Leader, Landcare Research), on the rapid deterioration in the Mackenzie Country. It had been some years since I last travelled through the area but I have just returned from seeing it for myself. We were treated to jaw-dropping blue skies, clear views of glacial lakes and the backdrop of Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps. The landscape formed by uplift, glaciation and drought—caused by the alpine rain shadow—has created a stunningly beautiful area. This is not lost on our booming tourism industry, which brings in the majority of the income to the area. Busloads of tourists come to wow at the scenery. The Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail is gaining popularity. The natural environment here is brown and treeless. It is home to a remarkable biodiversity of plants and animals adapted to this harsh environment.