The extremes of temperature, short summers and high rates of erosion are making for an uncertain environment for the flora and fauna in alpine areas, and also for the people who explore it.
Sir Alan Mark is an emeritus professor from the Botany Department of the University of Otago. He talks to Kathryn about the great ability of plants and animals to adapt and evolve to changing conditions.
A revised edition of his book Above the Treeline - a guide to the plants and animals of alpine New Zealand, has just been released.
It's a guide to the natural history of ecosystems, not just to the obvious birds and insects, but also frogs, lizards and other invertebrates and flowering plants.