Bookmark and Share
Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Rather ordinary lake Rotoehu

The other end of the walk is one of the smallest lakes of those along the Rotorua/Taupo fault. We couldn't find a way to get down to the water, which, in any case is polluted by a toxic algae bloom.
This picture was actually taken from the road as we drove past on our way to Whakatane.

Places and people
Regenerating bush

The bush itself is lovely, and it's a gentle walk. This rata tree is at a brilliant stage; the long lianas start their lives high in the branches of the host tree and grow downwards, planting roots in the forest floor. Then the lianas thicken into wood, the stage you can see here. Gradually they grow round the host and it dies, leaving the hollow trunk of the mature rata.
This is the first stretch of bush where we have seen lots of self-seeded palms; further south they have been individual trees somewhat isolated and thus away from intense competition. Now the climate is getting milder and they are growing vigorously among the ferns and other trees.

Places and people
Hinehopu's forest, Hongi's track
25/02/2008, Lake Rotoiti to Lake Rotoehu

This fairly short track, originally known as Te Tahuna is very old. In the first quarter of the seventeenth century, chieftainess Hinehopu used it to travel between her lands at each lake. Less peacefully, in 1823 the warrior Hongi used it as portage for war canoes, enabling him to launch a surprise attack on Mokoia, the island off Rotorua. (He won, and the iwi of Mokoia were enslaved, an important step in the christianising of the Maori of the area.)
Along the track (actually on the main road, though the track itself runs through the bush) is this large matai tree. The story goes that Hinehopu was hidden under this tree by her mother when she was small, and so successfully evaded her enemies. This makes the tree about 400 years old. Later, she met Pikiao II under the tree; she married him and their union gave rise to Ngati Pikiao tribe, who agreed that the tree is sacred.
The tree is said to influence the weather in favour of the traveller who performs a specific ceremony there. We don't know the form, but said the words in hope, given the poor weather we've seen. Actually, until the time of writing (Saturday, five days later) it has worked quite well, giving us a brief respite from the rain. Now it's back with a vengeance: obviously our travels have gone on long enough for the tree's protection to wear thin.

Places and people
Long lost cousins
25/02/2008, Rotorua

Through a complicated family tree, Beryl, Pip's mother, had recently been contacted by Annette, the wife of her cousin Lindsay. (We think this makes him Pip's first cousin.) Pip had an address for them but not a phone number, so we drove round Selwyn Heights looking for them.
Ta dah! As we walked up their drive, Lindsay was in their yard preparing their van for a few days away fishing. We were just in time.
It was great to piece together some elements of the jigsaw and hear stories of the family. As Lindsay and Annette were about to go away, they donated some potatoes, tomatoes and the yellowest lemons to Puff's stores. All very gratefully received: many thanks, guys!

Places and people
The hunt for taonga
Rained all day

We were lucky: a craft market was held in Rotorua today, despite the rain, and we found two sources of treasure.
Bob Collins worked as a Forest Ranger, based in Minginui with a patch including Whirinaki for many, many years up till 1987. In the course of those years he collected many burrs and sections of the trees as they were felled, rescuing them from the saw mills that were then active. After retirement he took up wood turning, using the thousands of pieces of wood from those wonderful trees to make bowls. These two are mostly made from rimu.
We are very sad for the trees that were felled, but glad that this wood, rather than simply being burnt (as it otherwise would have been) has been turned into beautiful and useful pieces.
Our other taonga (treasure) was found at the stall of Iris Herewini, who sells pounamu (greenstone), bone and paua jewellery made by relatives. Both these are made by her brother-in-law, who lives in Hokatika. We had promised ourselves pounamu pieces as part of this trip and had looked at so many (including in Hokatika), but these were the ones that spoke to us.
Both are made of kahurangi (cloak of the sky) greenstone, which takes its meaning from the cloud shapes within it.
Iris was great to meet and talk with. She told us so much about the greenstone and took so much time to make sure these were the right pieces for each of us, had the right cords on, were set at the right length and so on. We spent a very happy hour talking with her, and thank her again for her friendship.

Places and people
St Faith's Church

This is the splendid Anglican building, built in the wood framed, clean style that is a hallmark of the older European buildings in the town. Inside it is amazing fusion of Maori and European spiritual art; the pillars, pews and beams are a riot of Maori carving with tiki and taniwha. The stained glass is exceptional, together with a magnificent engraving of Jesus walking on Galilee, positioned such that he appears to be walking on Lake Rotorua. (Photos are forbidden inside the church).
St Faith's faces a large marae in a lovely complex of buildings right on the water front. We weren't sure it was acceptable to photograph the marae without permission so we will wait for an opportunity when we know it is acceptable.

Places and people
Kuirau Park

This is the main town park in Rotarua, which sets on the edge of an eponymous lake. The park is full of thermal pools, setting forth clouds of steam. We don't know why some of the trees round this pool have died.
The town has created a free foot pool where you can rest your weary feet after wandering around town. Very welcome! We sat there for a bit, then returned to our holiday park, where we could get into togs and fully luxuriate in geothermally warmed sulphurous water.

Places and people
Pip in the park

This is before our feet really started hurting, at a fab tree, which appears to have created this frame of its own accord.

Places and people
Stupid birds
Still raining
23/02/2008, Rotorua

We made our way back to the heart of the geothermal area, the town of Rotorua. Here Pip was delighted to find greedy pukeko who begged endlessly. These birds are used as a general illustration of silly clowning all over NZ, and their antics fully deserve their reputation.

Places and people
A river runs through it

Nowhere on the walk were we far from the sound of water. The Whirinaki Falls tumble into this beautiful pool, as seen from the path above.
Sarah used this as a training session for her plans to walk the Queen Charlotte Track later in this trip. So she filled the backpack up with some of the heaviest stuff in Puff and walked quite fast. Pip, who has no intention of tackling a multi-day tramp, womanfully came too, with a lighter pack. However, Sarah might be training alone some of the time!

Places and people
Epiphytes again

Above us, the height of a tall building, air plants are making their homes.
This is a very important forest for the local iwi (tribe), who have lived here as long as the oldest trees in the bush and have a profound spiritual relationship with it. The village is now responsible for the conservation and enhancement of the Forest Park and have a large scale programme incorporating improvements in the school, medical research and a management-learning programme called Tipu Ake.

Places and people
The finest forest in Aotearoa?
23/02/2008, Whirinaki Forest Park

Further east, outside the tiny village of Minignui, deep in the World Heritage forests of Te Urewera, is the stretch of bush known as Whirinaki Forest Park. Our walk book recommended a nine kilometre hike along a loop track to the waterfall, and declared this finest stretch of podocarp forest in the country. We are inclined to agree. It is full of magnificent trees, and epitomises the layering of mature rainforest.
This picture barely begins to capture the majesty of the climactic podocarp, the great groves of punga ferns and the lush shrubs below. The birds are busy throughout the trees, and all the time leaves fall gently.

Places and people

Newer ]  |  [ Older ]


Who we are
Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
Port: Ipswich
View Complete Profile »
SailBlogs Friends
Reg Wild Alliance 

Powered by SailBlogs