Skirting a Temporary Dune Lake.jpg

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

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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

 

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.

 

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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.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

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

 

 

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

On Top of Puheke

CLICK BELOW TO:

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, 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

July 22, 2012

Okaihau to Kaikohe on the Cycle Trail

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Our Wednesday hiking group recently walked the first completed portion of a proposed coast-to-coast cycle trail here in the Far North. The scenery is distinctly rural, maybe not spectacular but pleasant nonetheless. I really look forward to seeing the Far North District Council continue with this project. It has created employment and furthered opportunities for tourism operators.

This was a winter walk and we were lucky to get a rain-free day in the middle of a wet week. Believe it or not, we walked towards a rainbow for most of the three to four hours of walking. I hope you enjoy.

CLICK BELOW TO:

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, 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