Hiking Group


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On the last day of August our Wednesday walking group returned to Nga Taki. This is the site of a massive pinus radiata plantation that continues to be selectively milled. The entire project has been comprehensively described in the book Forest on Sand: The story of Aupouri State Forest by E.V. Sale. In a pine nutshell, teams of locals (mostly Maori) planted the sand dunes in marram grass. This was followed by the distribution of lupine seeds. The marram stabilised the shifting sands and the lupines fixed nitrogen for the planting of pines which began about five years later. Des Ogle of the New Zealand Forest Service initiated the project in the 1960s. Today, some of the areas are into their third generation of pine planting.

We all know pines from California aren’t part of the natural ecology of New Zealand but this project has saved farms, homes and even roads from being inundated by sand and at the same time has created somewhat sustainable employment in an area that was (and is) literally crying out for work.

As a tramping group it can be disconcerting to see areas we’ve enjoyed walking through in previous years turned into ugly undulating landscapes of stubbled trees. For this reason, we choose places to walk in this huge forest that are far removed from the noisy activities of milling.

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I’m not sure just how wild horses came to be part of the evolving ecology of this impressive project; but they are stunning to see in their small herds. E.V. Sale writes in Forest on Sand: ‘. . . their ancestry [is] the subject of much conjecture. Are they descendents of horses given to the Maori by Reverend Samuel Marsden? Or of army mounts escaped from a wrecked ship or unloaded in the North instead of being taken to the Boer War?’

This particular day we encountered two herds while driving through the forest and had another conveniently decide to walk past as we sat by a temporary dune lake (fed by recent rains) to eat our lunches. A blond-maned stallion watched on as mares and a young foal grazed on the spring flush of herbs growing in the damp areas between dunes. The stallion periodically chased off another young male that stayed on the fringe of the herd, presumably attracted to a mare in heat.

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The walk is made up of three distinct ecosystems—the pine plantations, Ninety Mile Beach and the fringe of dunes that separates them. Our walk began in the seemingly endless forest of pines, this day fragrant with the blossom of acacia, another import that has found its way into the higher-light road margins, and buzzing with bees attracted to those rich yellow blossoms.

Next we entered the wild dunes that rise up in undulating waves in back of Te Oneroa a Tōhē (Ninety Mile Beach). The wetness of winter had created numerous temporary ponds. We began our search for wild horses and almost immediately sighted some feeding in the distance. Tom and Chris Farrell, two swallows that join our tramping group each winter and spring, had set markers to help us navigate this confusing landscape. Tom and Chris have spent countless days over the years exploring the pine plantations of the Aupouri Peninsula, searching for horses and perhaps attracted to the trees that originate in their home state of California.

Once we reached the beach itself the group considered the possibility of heading north to the Bluff, a prominent landmark on a beach of few features to mark one’s location. The Bluff is often visited by fishermen, the odd one getting caught out by rogue waves. A few lives have been lost over the years.

This mild, spring-like day we instead decided to head south into a light breeze. The overcast sky at the time discouraged the hardier group members from braving a dip in the rough, noisy surf of the Tasman Sea.

After a couple kilometres of beach walking Tom and Chris led us back into the dunes, eventually finding the temporary lake where we lunched and were visited by the small herd of wild horses. After lunch we looped through the dunes before re-entering the muffled stillness of the forest. Our total relatively easy walking distance for the day was 12 kilometres.

All in all, Nga Taki is yet another unique, unusual and beautiful part of the rich Far North panorama.

See earlier post here: Nga Taki in the Rain

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com 

 In Search of Simplicity is now available as an eBook here.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit:http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101

I’ve been enjoying the walk between Waitangi and Haruru Falls for twenty years. The same pohutukawa trees have played host to nesting cormorants (shags) for at least that long.

The photos here are from Chris Farrell’s camera on a walk the group did September 7th. Below you’ll see a native gecko and below that a native wood pigeon or kereru (or kukupa). Enjoy.

You’ll find an earlier post on this same track here. Waitangi Track September 2012

Kereru.jpg

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com 

 In Search of Simplicity is now available as an eBook here.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit:http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101

Wednesday’s walk carried us 15 kilometres along pristine, mostly empty beaches from Rangiputa to Puheke, Karikari Bbeach and Maitai Bay. How’s this for winter? I must say my dip in the sea was rather brief!

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Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com 

 In Search of Simplicity is now available as an eBook here.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit:http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101

Bush Fairy Dairy2

After our walk yesterday on and near Honeymoon Valley Road in Peria we stopped at the Bush Fairy Dairy for coffee and hot chocolate (which were excellent by the way). There we bumped into Martin, who is contracted to trap predators in the landcare trust area where we had been walking. He explained that the last count he made there indicated 45 kiwi. This is not a complete population but gives an indication of a relatively high density of birds, which is great.

Martin had just returned from a day out monitoring kiwi on Mahinepua Peninsula, a place we visited in May. The photos here are from that walk in April. But please watch the video made by WWF which includes Martin holding kiwi. Martin enthusiastically shared a little of his knowledge regarding New Zealand’s national bird. The link to the YouTube clip is here.

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Kiwi are remarkable birds, being nocturnal burrow dwellers. Their egg size to adult size is the largest of any bird and the males incubate. All in all, these endangered birds are quirky and worth all the effort people make to protect them.

The follwing photos were taken at Mahinepua in May.

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Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com 

In Search of Simplicity is now available as an eBook here.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit:http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101

The following photos give you an indication of a beautiful and isolated spot our Wednesday walking group recently discovered on the Far North’s west coast. Enjoy! John

 

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Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives andBeyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com 

In Search of Simplicity is now available as an eBook here.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit:http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101

 

 

 

John Garton and Digitalis. Approaching the Trig

John Garton and Digitalis. Approaching the Trig

Last week the Wednesday Walkers were invited to tour the 800 acre farm of John Garton in Fern Flat. Some 6 or 7 years ago John gifted 105 hectares of regenerating hill-country native bush as an open space covenant of the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust —a generous move on the part of a farmer whose family has owned this land for 94 years.

Steep going up.

Steep going up.

John, who turns 80 next year, guided us on a walk that would have exhausted many a younger man. He shared stories from his youth, noting the incredible community spirit that once enveloped the rural area he called home. ‘Whenever a house was sold, the whole community would hold a farewell party for those leaving,’ recalled John. Then, a week after the new people had moved in, the process would be repeated so that the newcomers had a chance to meet all their neighbours.

And steep going down.

And steep going down.

The social fabric of the community was strong and the nature of life resulted in strong, fit people. Children either walked or went on horseback to and from school. Couples met at the regular dances held in the community halls of the area. John expressed concern that young people growing up today don’t have the benefits of the strong community bonds of yesteryear. Something to think about.

John Garton and his faithful farm dog.

John Garton and his faithful farm dog.

Trudging up and down the steep hills of the family farm must have played a part in keeping John fit. Despite being on his second pacemaker he is still able to shear 100 sheep in a day.

While preparing this post I browsed the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust website. I came across a story I have repeated to many others. A very inspiring story.

Robert ‘Mútt’ Lange, a successful songwriter and music producer, and ex-husband of Shania Twain, has gifted 53,000 hectares to Queen Elizabeth II National Trust as an open space covenant. In essence he has gifted New Zealanders a block of land 10 times larger than any other open space covenant ever given in New Zealand. Why, you might ask? Because he wants to make a difference. He has a team of people who have thus far eradicated 7,500 feral goats and are planting around 12,000 native trees and plants a month in the 8-9 months each year that allow planting in this mountainous part of the South Island.

Please click below to see a six minute clip on Campbell Live. I hope you are as inspired as I am. Here’s a man who cares and who is putting his money where his mouth is. What a great example some of our empire-building leaders could learn from. Who’s next?

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CLICK BELOW TO:

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101

 

Manginangina

Last Wednesday six of us were tourists in our own part of the world.

We first visited the giant kauri grove and swamp forest traversed by the Manginangina Kauri Walk. Who would not be inspired by the majesty of the magnificent arboreal sentinels towering overhead? These trees are repositories of the history of this land and their fervent whispers can be heard (or felt) if one listens with an open heart.

Kauri 2

Mangingagina walk

 

Next stop was the Puketi Forest recreation area and the one hour nature trail circuit. Alongside more giant kauri are equally majestic specimens of totara, rimu, kahikatea (New Zealand’s tallest tree) and other citizens of the Far North’s podocarp forest. Many of the trees are labelled so it is an opportunity to learn a little every time one visits. I was particularly taken with gorgeous leaves of ramarama.

Pat, Richard and Kauri

Pat, Richard and Kauri

The growth and form of the mountain neinei pictured below (a photo I took in the Waipoua Forest a couple of years ago) makes me wonder if Theodore Geisel (Dr Seuss) visited these forests as inspiration for his depiction of trees in his widely read illustrated children’s books.

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After a most civilized lunch at a picnic table in the campground (entertained by Bill, his unique travel-anywhere-coffee-maker and the tent-erecting antics of four young European visitors) we entered another rugged back-country Puketi Forest track.

Bill's Camp Coffee

Bill’s Camp Coffee

Afterwards Richard went off with Pat as she needed to get home as soon as possible to shower and eat before heading off for a Bay of Islands Singers practice.

That left Bill, Brian, Lucia and me to meander home.

The last time our Wednesday Walkers visited Puketi Forest (the Waihoanga Gorge Kauri Walk) we finished the day with blueberry ice cream at Blue River Orchard in Waipapa. That late summer visit took place just two days before the orchard’s cafe was to close for the season. Fortuitously yesterday’s visit came just two days after the cafe reopened for the new season of blueberries!

There’s something special about eating an ice cream or a pure blueberry sorbet alongside blocked plantings of the very bushes the blueberries come from. And it is equally special to watch the young people (WWOOFERs?) sorting the fruit on conveyors as we made our purchases.

But it was what happened next which demonstrated that in New Zealand we experience only two degrees of separation.

We joined two women, Betty and her daughter Pauline, already seated at a shaded picnic table. Betty McPherson (nee Murray) recently celebrated her 80th birthday and moved back to the Far North from Auckland. She was born and raised in Whangape and as we worked our way through our delicious cones Betty regaled us with tales of her youth.

“We had none of those big water tanks to catch rain water like houses have today and the winter stream would dry up when the rains stopped.” Each year summer droughts (I wonder if the earlier deforestation contributed to this) drove local Maori families over a daunting hill to the coast north of the Whangape Harbour where permanent fresh water cascaded from the cliffs. Summer shelters (whare) were constructed of nikau palm fronds. Betty’s brothers fished and everyone gathered shell fish. A red frilly seaweed, Pterocladia lucida, was picked and sold for agar production.

There were no cars. Everyone walked or travelled on horseback. There was little reason for theft as everyone worked together and shared. As Betty explained, that beautiful way of life withered and disappeared with the urbanization of Maori beginning in the 1950s.

Betty grew up with the Lunjevich family (Lucia’s brother’s relations). That’s part of the two degrees of separation. The other part had to do with some connection Betty had (which I can’t quite remember) with Boy Yates, Bill’s neighbour in Parapara.

Back in her training college days Betty was part of a contingent sent to China. That three week trip in the Chinese summer of 1976 coincided with the earthquake that struck Tangshan, a shoddily built mining city, and killed half a million people. That same trip coincided with the death of Chairman Mao. How’s that for timing on your only trip to China?

We warmly bid farewell to Betty and Pauline and made a final stop at the Kahoe Farm Hostel past the Otangaroa turnoff on State Highway 10. Here we bumped into (2 degrees of separation?) Mike Johansen, a font of local knowledge and the man owning the farm we walk through when visiting the Kahoe Rock Pools. He told me of, amongst other things, a cold water volcano situated on the roadside just at the turnoff to Whangape after having passed through Broadwood. Whangape again. Mike said that geologists from the University of Auckland regularly visit this unique example of tectonic activity. I’d like to investigate this.

Many thanks to Bill Guthrie for the photos.

 

CLICK BELOW TO:

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101

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