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Posts Tagged ‘Kauri’

Okura Bush Walk

There is a popular walking track near us called Okura Estuary Scenic Reserve.  It’s a long track that winds through thick bush and rises and falls up and down slopes and steps.  There are lots of ferns, and thick canopies of foliage including Kauri trees.  These used to cover the country but were largely cut down, to the extent that they are protected now.  Kauri can be damaged by introduction of micro-organisms into their root system from contaminated footwear, so everyone who enters the reserve is asked to spray their feet with a disinfectant.

It’s a popular destination for families, walkers and runners.  The purpose of going was so that Josie could run to the end and turn around then meet us as far as we could get to.  The girls did fantastically with their walking – it’s not an easy 2km at all and then we had to turn around and head back.  More and more I think about what memories we give the girls.  I think back to walks in the woods when I was little and although it was a different ecology I know we’re giving the kids similar memories that they will hold with them into their adulthood.

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After leaving the field day we’d left ourselves witha  bit of a challenge.  We didn’t really have a destination in mind, but we did want to get over the Hokianga Car Ferry before stopping for the night.

We topped off with petrol and caffeinated drinks in Dargaville and then pressed on North.  The drive soon took us through very beautiful country side which eventually became hilly forrest.  Part of the planning for this route was the inclusion of a visit to Tane Mahuta.  Tane Mahuta is a tree.  A famous tree in New Zealand.  Some may say a celebri-tree… Ithankyou.

So this tree… according to Wikipedia (so it must be true!) “Its age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old. It is the largest kauri known to stand today.”   So there you go.  And I have to say that it’s an impressive piece of wood to look at.

The tree is just a few minutes walk from the main road.  There is a boardwalk to guide you through and around the trunks of equally lovely but much smaller trees, which allow a sprinkling of sun light through to ground level.  Kiwi’s are not prone to over-developing tourist attractions and this is no different.  There is a modest information board and the boardwalk itself is only there because it’s crucial to protect the forrest.  As we learned (from the modest information board), Kauri roots are shallow, so trampling them with a multitude of boots and shoes with an international heritage will end up killing these huge huge trees.  And there’s not many of them left really.  Not, considering the place used to be covered with them!  However, looking at a big Kauri you can easily understand why the ship builders of previous centuries (lacking somewhat in their appreciation of the impact us people can have on the planet) thought they’d be great trees to chop down and make stuff out of.

After visiting Tane Mahuta it really was time to push on for the ferry.  We dropped out of the forrest shortly after setting off again and started to follow the coast round through Opononi and on to Rawene where the Hokianga Car Ferry departs from.

Opononi is famous (for NZ values of famous) for having a friendly dolphin.  It’s dead now.  The dolphin that is, not the town.  Although I’m not sure about the last statement really – we just passed through, taking with us just memories of the beginning of the Hokianga harbour and the immense sand dunes on the other side of the harbour entrance.

Eventually we ran out of road.  Rawene is teeny tiny.  We got in the ferry queue seemingly near the front.  It must be very frustrating to miss a ferry as they come just once an hour.  Imagine being the last car in the queue and there not quite being enough space to squeeze you on…  Anyway, that didn’t happen to us.  We got on, about 20 minutes or so after we arrived.  The crossing takes about 20 minutes and the kids (which automatically means Josie as well of course) loved getting out of the car and exploring the area for the foot passengers.  It reminded us very much of a little ferry we used to get in the Scottish Highlands – the Corram ferry, which just like our current vessel cut out hours of driving around the end of an inlet in exchange for a short hop on a boat.

Whilst traversing the harbour we planned the remainder of the day.  The plan was to eat as soon as we could after the ferry docked then push on to Ahipara at the bottom of 90 Mile Beach.  It’s impossible to know how long it will take to get anywhere, because up here what looks like a normal road on the map may turn out to be super windey or unsealed or full of cows…

Leaving the ferry we pulled up minutes later to grab some almost unbelievably good food at a little cafe called KB Cafaway.  We really just wanted to throw some food at the kids and crack on, but the very friendly lady serving us made some stunning fish and chips from locally caught fresh fish and the seafood platter was an amazing selection of yummy sea food with a generous salad and big bowl of chips.  We stopped without any expectations at all, and left delighted, very full and ready for our beds.

In the end it wasn’t too long until we got to our beds, as the remainder of the journey to Ahipara turned out to a quick one.  We arrived at the Ahipara Holiday Park in the light, but our tree-sheltered pitch got very dark very quickly and we were putting the last pegs in with torches. And that wasn;t easy… why do some campsites use a light sprinkling of rocks as their base layer. Thankfully there were plenty of stones around to use as make-shift mallets. I wasn’t sure we’d get the pegs out again in the morning, but that was a problem for another day.

There was a brief pause whilst Lucy demonstrated that you should always take a child at her word.  Emily ran off to the loo – enjoying the freedom that being a (nearly) 7 year old brings and Lucy declared that she needed the loo to.  “No you don’t” we reply, keen to get the tent up and convinced she just wanted to be a big girl like Emily.  Well, how wrong we were as she developed a vacant, slightly strained expression, wobbled her knees a bit and set about her business where she stood.  So we did take a break from putting up the tent in the end to sort out our lumberjack daughter and the small log she felled.

As we settled down, there was no chatting, no sitting up late, drinking whisky, looking at stars.  We just crashed big time.  It was a long day but promised dreams of diggers, ferries and huge fish and chips.  Tomorrow?  Tomorrow we planned to complete the part of our journey where we head north – then turn around come back again.

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