Sunday, December 15, 2013

We're in Paihia

We are in the lovely but touristy beach town of Paihia.  The trail has been wonderful (but difficult!) since we left Ahipara last Tuesday.  We had a short road walk out of Ahipara then started our first "bush" (forest) tramp.
Leaving Ahipara

  The forests here are just amazing to hike through, and couldn't be any different from the terrain we're used to.  The forests are unbelievably lush, full of so many varieties of ferns, large Kauri trees and what seems like hundreds of other varieties with which I am not even familiar. The are an abundance of birds who seem to be more vocal than anywhere else I've been, we're both enjoying their calls, and it truly feels like we're hiking through a tropical tropical.
    The tracks in the forest are steep and difficult though.  They put the ups and downs of the southern AT to shame.  Sometimes it's hard to believe that they're truly meant to be a 'track'.  This is a picture of typical forest.

  We were greeted by this wonderful carving as we entered the Herekino Forest, our first bush tramp.  It was done by a local wood carver and was nice greeting upon arriving at the forest.


We hiked through areas with lots of Kauri trees.  Kauri are native to New Zealand and some of the largest trees here.  In the past they were used extensively for carving, building homes, boats and buildings, and their gum used to start fire and used in varnishes.  This tree is now protected in many areas as it was so extensively logged and in addition, many areas are suffering from Kauri Dieback disease.  It's a fungus-like disease that kills the trees.  In many areas there are spray bottles with disinfectant for trampers to spray their shoes when entering and exiting as a way to try and stop the disease.
Brazil Nut standing in front of a Kauri tree

A beautiful campsite with a spectacular view
  Our next track was through the Raeta Forest. This track was fun because part of the trail was literally through a stream.  We've been told the most dangerous part of this trail is river crossings.  Rivers here flood incredibly fast, so anywhere that we have to cross a wide river, or walk upstream for several kilometers, the track notes warn to only do so in dry weather.  We lucked out as it was incredibly hot this day and hadn't rained for days, so the water felt great.

Walking up the Mangapukahukahu Stream

  As we've been walking we've noticed lots of traps in the woods and along side the trail.  There is an infestation of rats and possums and they've become such a problem that they're trying to eliminate them by trapping and poison.  Apparently the possums were brought here in the 1870's for use of their fur. Now, they've grown to the millions, have no predators and are destroying the forests, killing trees and plants and killing many of the native birds and eating their eggs.
This is a trap we passed on the side of a forest road. It is sad that we introduced them to NZ for our use and we're the ones who created the problem in the first place.

We're hoping to see some Kiwi birds
   We've heard there are far more sheep in New Zealand than people, and while we haven't seen that many yet, we did walk through some of their pastures the other day. I felt like I was herding them because they didn't move to the side, but just kept walking in front of me on the road.

Rainbow Falls near Kerikeri
We're back on the East side of the island and will be going through more bush tracks and some shorter beach walks this week. We will post again when we can.
Happy trails, 
JP and Nut

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