Cass field station

Weather information for Cass

Check out the current weather conditions at Cass:

Looking west towards Arthur's Pass

Looking southeast towards Purple Hill

Live weather data and a weather forecast for Cass can be viewed at Cass weather. The weather station has been installed by FENZ (Fire and Emergence New Zealand) and is part of the national network used to monitor current weather for rural fire risk levels. 

For longer term weather data UC has run an automatic weather station at the Cass Field Station since 1996. Data since 2021 are visible through NIWA’s National Climate Database (CliFlo system, ).  For weather data before 2021, contact the Field Services Manager.

Maintaining biodiversity at Cass

A major threat to the native biodiversity in the Cass area is invasion of native ecosystems by woody weed species. UC is currently managing/controlling the following weeds at Cass:

  • Douglas fir - this is invading the grassland and shrublands at CMRA and if left unchecked would become the dominate plant in the area.
  • Gorse and broom. These weeds have spread onto Cass form the river corridor and the road and rail networks.
  • Russel Lupins – these plants are major ecological weeds in the unique braided rivers of eastern South Island.
  • Willows – As these are a major weed in lakes and river edges and invade wetlands, modifying the stream flows and altering native fish habitats. Currently UC has ECan biodiversity funding to undertake removal of willows along the entire length of Grasmere stream, including from in Remus wetland and the edges of lakes Grasmere and Sarah.

UC is also undertaking mammalian pest control: this includes, possums, deer and pigs

Finally, we are controlling for the invasive German/European wasps, by poisoning in February of each year. This control has led to a noticeable reduction of wasps in the native beech forests at Cass and safer teaching field trips in the area. 

History of Cass field station

The Cass Mountain Research Area (CMRA) consists of 1775 ha of eastern South Island mountain land located in the Cass River basin, upper Waimakariri River catchment, North Canterbury. Sometimes referred to as the Cass Field Station (or earlier as the Canterbury College Mountain Biological Station) or as the Cass Scientific Reserve, the research area is wholly owned and operated by the University of Canterbury. The CMRA is located on part of the land that was given to the University of Canterbury (as the Canterbury College) by the then Provincial Government as an endowment for the promotion of superior education. The main purpose of the CMRA is to provide research and learning opportunities for UC staff and students.

The CMRA comprises two prominent peaks, Cass Hill (1098m) and Sugarloaf (1359m), as well as river terraces and alluvial fans. The Cass Basin forms part of the mid-Waimakariri intermontane river basin in the central South Island and provides a very wide range of environments - montane grasslands, scrub, riverbed, scree, beech forest, swamp, bog, lake, stream and alpine habitats can all be reached by day trips on foot. In addition, day trips by vehicle can be made to the subalpine and alpine habitats of the Craigieburn Range or Arthurs Pass on the main divide of the Southern Alps.

The history of the Cass Field Station is described in the publication "CASS: History and Science in the Cass District, Canterbury, New Zealand", written by E. Percival & C.J. Burrows. Here's the link to the pdf of the document.

Flora checklist

There is a wide variety of flora in the Cass Mountain Research Area. A checklist has been compiled to offer more information on the plant life that can be found.


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