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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.

one-of-the-wild-horses

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

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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

Entrance to the home of Rod and Margie Davies

Entrance to the property of Rod and Margie Davies

The walk we took on September 10th carried us along Fern Flat Road to the home and pottery of Rod and Margie Davies. This couple have managed to sculpt out an enviable lifestyle in their beautiful rural location. They’ve raised two lovely daughters and their artistic pottery is available in galleries around the country. Over the years they’ve inspired others to take a chance and follow their creative passions.

It’s a restful road walk tracking a river and surrounded by green, often bush-clad hills. An appropriate choice considering all the rain we’ve had through the winter and early spring.

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They grow big pigs in the Far North

They grow big pigs in the Far North

 

 

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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

2 Gold Stairs

On September 17th a group of us completed one of my favourite walks -The Golden Stairs. The Whangape Harbour has a wild quality to it that is difficult to describe. The narrow fiord-like entrance must have taken many a ship in days gone by. The reefs there look treacherous.

We have a sister-in-law who grew up in the inner reaches of the harbour. The children hopped on a boat to go to school. What food they didn’t grow themselves was supplemented with the bounty of the sea which was on their doorstep. They owned no car and got off the peninsula they called home on horseback at low tide.

According to Cilla (our sister-in-law, a Lunjevich, by the way) the population was much higher then (the 1950s and 1960s) than it is today.

The pictures for this post were taken by Don Hammond. Included is a scan of an old photo showing the saw mill on the harbour’s edge (south side). There is almost nothing remaining today to indicate that the mill ever existed.

The third week in September is recognized as the time to find the kowhai in bloom in this part of the Far North. That’s where the name ‘Golden Stairs’ originates. The track is largely overgrown but dates back to early Maori days. I once read a story in the local book Tail of the Fish that described the pursuit of a Maori warrior across the Golden Stairs.

I trust you enjoy Don’s compiled photos as much as we enjoyed the walk. 

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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 andBeyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.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

My thanks to George and Pauline for the beautiful photos from a walk we all agreed was a highlight of this year’s walking. It’s a long drive to Cape Reinga from whence this walk began and it was blustery and cool at the beginning. But before the day was out I’d had a couple of dips in the sea and waded in a creek to keep cool. The landscape is extraordinarily varied and there is a sense of being away from it all in this, the very north of the country. I trust you enjoy the photos of which I’ve only chosen to show a few. The complete album can be found here:  https://picasaweb.google.com/109798694876493156288/CapeMariaVanDiemenWalk

Cape Reinga. The meeting of two oceans.

Cape Reinga. The meeting of two oceans.

Ready to begin

Ready to begin: our destination is behind us in the distance.

For your information

For your information

Near beginning

Near beginning: Te Werahi below

Flax readying to bloom

Flax readying to bloom

Two Johns by the steep early cliffs

Two Johns by the steep early cliffs

Relentless seas.

Relentless seas.

Alma, John and Tom on the long stretch of Te Werahi. It's warming up!

Alma, John and Tom on the long stretch of Te Werahi. It’s warming up!

The climb up from Te Werahi

The climb up from Te Werahi

Flax Snails

Flax Snails

Dunes down to the beach below Cape Maria van Diemen

Dunes down to the beach below Cape Maria van Diemen

Stunning landscape.

Stunning landscape. Looking out to Motuopao Island

Skyscape

Skyscape

Windswept formations.

Windswept formations.

A dip at midday.

A dip at midday.

Cape Maria Van Diemen Lighthouse

Cape Maria Van Diemen Lighthouse

It is a working lighthouse.

It is a working lighthouse.

Motuopao. Where the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper used to be.

Motuopao. Where the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper used to be. Note treacherous currents.

Creek arriving at the sea.

Creek arriving at the sea. We followed it up.

Down the dune

Down the dune: It’s a sudden stop at the end.

George coming safely down the steep dune.

George coming safely down the steep dune.

Windswept formations

Two steps up and one step back.

Some of the crew enjoying ice cream at Te Paki.

Some of the crew enjoying ice cream at Te Kao. A just reward for a long day.

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.wordpress.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

Taratara photo taken from State Highway 10

Last week the Wednesday Walkers visited Taratara. This is a sacred mountain to local iwi and by chance our walk coincided with a nearly-full solar eclipse. We were all buzzing!

A friend I interviewed on Voices from the North a few years ago, Colin Brown, has mapped the route spirits travel on their way to Spirits Bay. Taratara is a significant marker on that path. To put all this in perspective here is a little on Spirits Bay from Wikipedia:

The bay is considered a sacred place in Maori culture as according to local legend, it is the location where spirits of the dead gather to depart from this world to travel to their ancestral home (or afterlife) from a large old pohutakawa tree above the bay.

A Māori name for Spirits Bay, Kapowairua (meaning to “catch the spirit“), comes from a Maori language saying that translates into English as: “I can shelter from the wind. But I cannot shelter from the longing for my daughter. I shall venture as far as Hokianga, and beyond. Your task (should I die) shall be to grasp my spirit.” The words were spoken by Tōhē, a chief of the Ngāti Kahu people, who is considered one of Muriwhenua’s most important ancestors. Tōhē made his way south, naming more than one hundred places along the western coast, until dying at Whāngaiariki near Maunganui Bluff. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirits_Bay )

Located just off State Highway 10, between Kaeo and Mangonui, the magnificent rock formation called Taratara was formed some 20 million years ago. The rock rises some 300 metres above sea level and is covered in native flora. Here is the Maori mythology associated with Taratara:

Maori Mythology of Taratara Peak (and the two prominent hills beside it)

According to the local people Taratara was a very handsome mountain whose two wives attended on him dutifully. Maungataniwha, (Taniwha Mountain – a taniwha is a monster or demon) who lived over to the west wished for a wife of his own and decided to ask Taratara for one of his wives.

Taratara disagreed and Maungataniwha returned disconsolate to his home. Time passed and Maungataniwha again went to see if he could persuade Taratara to give him one of his wives. This time the arrogant Taratara laughed at him in such a derisive manner that the angry Maungataniwha whipped his tail and cut off Taratara’s head.Now Taratara’s head lies on the top of Ohakiri near the [Whangaroa] harbour entrance and his wives remain loyally beside his body grieving for their husband. (http://www.eske-style.co.nz/areas/farnorth/wow_taratarapeak.asp )

Enjoy the photos from the day of the eclipse:

Otangaroa side of Taratara

View towards Whangaroa Harbour

The easy part of the climb.

Reaching Taratara requires permission from the farmer whose land one must cross.

 

 

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 the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.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