Yesterday my friend, Chris and I ventured to the west coast on the far side of my hills of home. It had been a cold and frosty morning, the perfect sort of day for a long drive. When I lived on the peninsula south of Dargaville I knew the Northern Wairoa River looks best on that sort of day, too. It's not called the upside down river for nothing - most of the time the mud appears to be on the top of the water. But catch it on the right day and its quite lovely. See the deep V in the Uppity Downities in the distance? I've finally discovered which road takes you closest to that part of the mountain. We didn't stop for a close up photo. Next time.
Looking south down river:
We were headed for Opononi and Rawene but stopped by the entrance to the Tane Mahuta track in the Waipoua Forest to have our picnic lunch. (It was still pretty chilly in the shade in the forest.) Tane Mahuta is a kauri tree, so famous it has its own name. It is more than 50 metres tall, measures13.7 metres around its trunk and is estimated to be between 1200 and 2000 years old.
But it wasn't Tane Mahuta that had my attention. It was the dead trunk of another kauri standing in front of a healthy tree opposite the entrance to the forest. We'd noticed several other dead kauri along the way, too. Of course, we've heard about kauri dieback disease, a microscopic disease new to our country which has these beautiful ancient trees under threat of extinction. This was the first time I've noticed the impact the disease is having.
It just seems impossible that one of the largest and longest-lived trees in the world could disappear. They can grow to more than 60metres high and live for 2000 years or more. Northland would be a very different place without them.
Thousands have died from the disease in the last 10 years. The scarey thing is there is no known way to treat it. As you can see, the cursed disease is already at work in Waipoua Forest.