Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
The day was warm but noticeably cooler once we got inside the forest. Dan decreed a walk to the Kauri Dam was first on the agenda. The original kauri dams in New Zealand were copies of the timber-built structures of Nova Scotia. But over time and as experience was gained, improvements included a simple but effective lifting gate design that allowed the dams to be released by a rigger and then re-used. It is estimated that over 90 years, up to 1,000 log dams were built. And one of those is at the head of the little creek that runs through our farm.
The dam collected a large amount of water on a fairly small stream. Over many months, as the dam slowly filled, logs were felled and laid in the stream bed. The gate of the dam was tripped, usually during a storm (to enhance the natural flood), and the power of the water drove the logs down the little creek. The little creek flows into a bigger creek and that creek into a bigger creek still and the logs would float on down until they reach Dargaville on the west coast. There, a floating structure of wooden booms collected the logs. A dam might be re-used for several years before it was abandoned.
Can you imagine the noise when the dam was tripped? Witnesses described the power of a log drive as unforgettable.
Little remains up in the forest now. A few huge planks across the bottom of a gorge. But you can imagine by the shape of the gorge how it would have worked.
The walk to the Kauri Grove was bit longer (twice as long actually). While the others were playing on the Challenge Course that is set up near the Lodge that is used by school groups, the youngest and the oldest, Georgia and I set out. This track was narrower and in denser bush. It followed along the banks of the little stream for about 20 minutes before coming to a creek crossing. In some places the track was very slushy and muddy, there must be springs everywhere up there in that forest.
Two of our party decided to stay at the creek but I decided to carry on and trail on behind the younger ones at my own pace. (As the two who stayed by creek sat there quietly they saw little native lobsters in the water!) Georgia dropped back to be my companion. She had been listening when we'd explained the rules of walking in the bush - never leave the group, never leave the track, etc. And after much huffing and puffing, we made it to the Kauri Grove. (The literature says the walk may require skill and an average level of fitness - yay me!)
Danny and daughters dwarfed by the kauri.
The light shining through the trees was quite magical.
Strange how the walk back always seems quicker! No, it definitely was, it was mainly downhill. And by then Danny had found me a sturdy walking stick.
Danny decided this going for a Boxing Day bush walk would make a great new family tradition. I think he should have come up with the idea when I was younger and fitter.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I'm not wanting to torture those of you in the northern hemisphere (well, not much!) but it was lovely and warm on Friday, with just the faintest hint of a breeze. What better to do with time to fill on Christmas Day than go fly a kite.
After a quick debate about the direction of the available breeze we headed off to a little hill. Occasionally a little breeze would spring up and Bill nearly got the kite to fly:
Krystal's kite from last Christmas couldn't really get airborne either.
But we had some fun and enjoyed the glorious weather. And I stopped and looked at some things I usually pass on by without noticing:
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The angel who makes my coffee on a regular basis - and always serves it with a sweet, gentle smile:
To see lots of angels click here.
I wish you all lots of blessings and joy for Christmas!!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
We started off our sight seeing on Sunday with a quick walk in the bush to visit a kauri tree:
and the unexpected sight of a native bush pigeon:
then on to the estuary in Ngunguru:
followed by the sights of Tutukaka:
I don't know if I can describe the place we got to. Access is gained by trekking through long grass, then climbing down through a gap in the rock. On the other side is a very rocky little bay where the tide seethes in through a narrow causeway between the rocky headland and a rocky outcrop.
Can you see the slither of daylight in the middle of the photo? - that's the access:
GB about to start the scramble through the gap on the way out:
After standing aside to allow a family through - it's one way traffic only:
This weekend, not the Friday prior to this weekend.
The kakapo is one of New Zealand’s unique ‘treasures’ and with only 124 known surviving birds it is listed internationally as a critically endangered species.
With so few kakapo remaining, they all need special attention which is provided by the Department of Conservation (DOC) who work to save them from extinction. They have moved all kakapo to New Zealand's off-shore islands, where there are no predators - like possums, rats and stoats.
It is the rarest parrot in the world. It’s flightless, nocturnal, it’s the world’s heaviest parrot, it's possibly the oldest living bird and it has a subsonic mating boom that can travel several kilometres, just to name a few things!
As a result, staff realised he is unlikely to be an effective breeding bird, but decided he had a future as an extremely good advocate for his species; and can provide a great opportunity for people to meet a live kakapo. He has been visited by many school groups, and provides hard-working volunteers with a good chance of seeing a bird.
Sirocco remains a wild bird in that he does not live in captivity, but he has visited several places in the last few years - on tour as ambassador for his species.
He achieved superstar status in October 2009, when the BBC series “Last Chance to See” featuring Stephen Fry and Mark Cawardine aired in the UK. A YouTube clip of Sirocco getting ‘up close and personal’ (read trying to mate) with presenter Mark Cawardine 's head gained more than 700 000 views in just one week! And that's a lot of hits for a New Zealander.
To see how Sirocco gained his fame, click here. It's very funny!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
But everywhere I look, I see the countryside decked out in its Christmas finery. The pohutukawa tree flowers at this time of year and is known as the New Zealand Christmas tree. And what could be more beautiful?