There has been a sphagnum moss industry on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island for a number of years. The numerous swamps and high rainfall makes for ideal growing conditions.
In New Zealand sphagnum moss is harvested by hand and exported worldwide for use as hanging basket liners, as a growing medium for young orchids, and mixed in with other potting mixes to increase their moisture retaining value.
The moss is picked in the swamps by hand and put into wool bales. From there the sphagnum moss is lifted by helicopter onto a truck and transported to drying and cleaning facilities, then packaged and eventually exported overseas.
The sphagnum moss bales are often spread over a wide area, sometimes a kilometre or more and with hundreds of bales scattered over the swamp it can be a problem to have enough men on the ground to attach the helicopter chain to each moss bale.
A way around this is ‘riding the chain’ where the man on the ground rides on the bale or chain below the helicopter to the sphagnum moss bales spread around the swamp. Just one man on the ground can get to all the bales easily in a short amount of time. (see movie above)