We left the magical Bay of Islands and drove towards Waipoua State Forest, another place that we had visited years ago. The kids have seen our giant California trees, but we wanted them to see New Zealand’s behemoths, the Kauri trees.
A major threat to the Kauri, identified in 2008, is kauri dieback, a disease caused by a fungus-like water mold that attacks the feeding root systems and the tissues that carry nutrients. Because the feeding root systems are so shallow and the spores are easily transported by shoes, cleaning stations are in place at the entrances of the walking paths. Another addition to the parking lot since we visited was a crossword wielding attendant hired at the price of $2 (NZD) per car to guard your chariot from vandals.photo by Grant
Agathis australis belongs to the conifer family and appeared in New Zealand about 20 million years ago. The most southern growing species (and there are 20 species found along the Western Pacific and into New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines) are the New Zealand Kauri, found on the North Island. We listened to a park ranger talk about Tane Mahuta, the largest living Kauri tree in New Zealand and estimated to be between 1,500-2,000 years old.
The trees have very shallow feeding root systems and the cradle of the their branches nurtures a garden of flora.
This photo is shot with the zoom lens so you can see all of the different plant life that exists in these beautiful, old trees.
Ashley has had a loose tooth, her last baby tooth, for a very long time. In fact she was hoping to lose it in Tanzania (four months ago!) so she could use that fact in a game called “Two Truths and a Lie.” I don’t want to give away her two truths, but as we listened to the ranger, she wiggled her tooth and out it popped right in front of “Lord of the Forest.”
I have mentioned the fact before that my family is not photo friendly. I blame this entirely on Scott. He thinks that I take too many pictures and that posed photos are in essence, usually stupid and he has trained the children to think that they actually have a choice in the matter. Yesterday, I watched as a mother systematically posed her children all over a playground and I happily cringed inside as she repeated their names and gave them instruction after instruction. “One more bar forward Keeley. No! One more bar. Now stop. Okay, Anna, come forward. Now, stop!” There were four children and the family progressed around the playground in this fashion. I silently congratulated myself on “not being that bad” but I think I understand what was behind that mother’s intensity. She wanted to capture her beautiful children and their happiness and energy and the memories that they are making and have it all wrapped up like Christmas morning on her hard drive. I get it and I also agree with Scott’s issue of “posed” most of the time, but I get tired of all of the pictures I take of the backsides of my family and so I came up with a brilliant idea that I would hire Grant to be my photographer. Ashley is the best sport of them all and so I thought if I could bring Grant over to my side using his love of photography and his desire to save enough money to purchase a many lettered and numbered (he tells me, I forget) camera, I could win the majority.
My grandmother was a firm believer in the saying, “no good deed goes unpunished,” and I would have to agree but I think I will add, “no good idea goes unpunished either.” In true Thorshov family fashion, my proposal was thoroughly debated and the consensus was that they would all have the chance to contribute photos and the photos that made it into the blog would earn a credit and some amount of money although the amount was never decided. Scott said $.25 and I thought $5.00. So, there you have it, I will now be crediting the photos and paying my photographers. Maybe I’ll start working on some sponsors so I can afford family participation. Isn’t there another saying like, “nothing good is free?” I know, different context, but wish me luck anyway.
Kauri trees are coniferous and so young trees have a pyramid shape, but by the time they begin to reach the forest canopy at about fifty years old or more, they have shed their lower branches.
The bark is beautiful.
The trees are massive.
Give a Kauri a hug.
Ashley has spent a lot of time in trees and even though she couldn’t climb this one, she still had a nice visit. You really could feel its noble presence in the forest and it reminded me of a Star Trek Original Series episode called ironically, “The Devil in the Dark.” It is about a 5,000 year old creature called a Horta that is killing people on a mining colony planet. The Enterprise is sent to intervene and Spock mind melds with it and learns that this creature is the last of its kind and is protecting its eggs and is injured. Why did the tree remind me of the Horta? I think because of the appearance of the bark, it is also very old, truly benevolent (the Horta only killed to protect its offspring), silent, threatened by humans and other worldly.
We found this end of the trail closure so professional after experiencing mattress springs, brush, and haphazardly piled junk heaps as end of trail markers in other areas.
Scott is pretending to be a Kauri tree.
This is Te Matua Ngahere or Father of the Forest.
A woodland fairy that we were fortunate enough to spot, rarer than a Kiwi.
Some interesting ferns photographed by Grant.
And the nice path through the forest.
We had a long drive to Auckland in front of us and decided to break it up by visiting the Kauri Museum to learn more about the trees. We did end up at a museum, but it was not the Kauri Museum. Instead, this museum housed an impressive assortment of every personal collection ever in want of a new home from accordions to figurines holding accordions to glass bottles to train sets to sailing memorabilia. At least it was a break and an amusing one at that and if you’re wondering how we found this place, we just followed the “museum” signs.
It was a long day. We started out in Paihia, toured the Waipoua Kauri Forest, perused “The Museum” and headed towards Auckland. All was going well until the kids said, “There’s a man in that van waving to you, Papa.” We had a flat tire on a busy highway at dusk. Ashley enjoyed her book.
Scott changed the tire and we made it safely to our hotel in Auckland and that was the end of the day.
I took a break while I was working on this blog (because I couldn’t stand to read it anymore) and sat with Scott on our balcony here in Queenstown. He asked me how the blog writing was going and I had to tell him that I was feeling uninspired and I thought this blog was stupid. Stupid is one of my favorite words right now and although seemingly childish in its simplicity, it works in many instances, all the while reminding me of a dear friend who calls her arthritic fingers stupid. Let’s face it, the Kauri Forest is not amazing and I’m not sure it was worth the long drive and any blog that is hard to write could not be that fun to read. The trees are quite large and the paths are quite nice, but the only thing I remembered about it from our honeymoon was running all of the paths because it closed at dusk and we had one hour. The thing I will remember about this time is Ashley’s surprise when her tooth popped out.
I had coffee with a friend who reads my blog while we were home this last time and she said, “I love the way that you talk about what happened and then add your own philosophy.” Obviously she wasn’t caught up through my San Sebastian blogs because there wasn’t a lot of philosophy going on there either and that is continuing here in New Zealand. I miss that. I miss feeling that I learned something or accomplished something. I’ am definitely not a travel writer per se, it feels too much like reading directions, and scrap booking hurts me. I want to get down and dirty with my thoughts, motivations and feelings(occasionally) and above all I want to learn about people(myself included) and gain new perspectives. I have been skimming across the surface and now I want to find a few more meaty bits. I feel a good cleansing blog brewing…