We’ve been on a learning curve
Part 2 February 2018 Trip

This blog and video has taken a wee bit longer to get out than we anticipated, we’ve got a new laptop and a new video editing program so we’ve been on a bit of a learning curve in how the new program works.

This is “Part Two February 2018 Trip” and you can find the video at: https://youtu.be/EBQbrqFcY0g
Transcript can be found below the blog.

YouTube thumbnail

On Wednesday 14th of February we left the Western side of Lake Taupo to head to Pureora Forest Park, we were just on the tail-end of some bad weather and we’d had Cyclone Fehi and Cyclone Gita was due to hit NZ about the 20th of February so although the weather on the Wednesday wasn’t that flash we saw a small window of good weather before Gita was going to hit and decided to just go for it. People thought we were slightly bonkers for wanting to head out to camp while it was still raining, but we had the gear and were confident that we would have a few good days and wanted to make the most of the good days and not waste time traveling.

It had been raining off and on between Pukawa Bay and Taumarunui, and there was some surface flooding heading into Taumaranui. We stopped for some lunch and to grab a few last minute groceries, as we headed over the Whanganui River bridge my thought was “wow, that is really charging through”. Little did we know that the couple of hour drive was going to turn into about 3 and a half hours drive.


Heading into more bad weather
Heading out of Taumarunui

Part of this trip to Pureora was to see if we could find an old sawmill we found many years ago on a scouting mission of the Central North Island Rock climbing guide. Endeans Mill would be a 60km round trip off the main road and we were desperately hoping that we would get a bit of a break in the weather so we could get out and take some good shots. We were lucky and caught a break in the weather and managed to get some good shots of a piece of NZ’s forestry history. See the trip video for more information.

Logs and all left
Workers housing


The “some” surface flooding before Taumarunui turned into lots of flooding pretty much everywhere there was a creek or stream. With Cyclone Fehi only being a couple of weeks earlier and consistent rain for a few days leading up to our travel; the water tables and soil must have reached maximum capacity and there were a few times that the road was barely passable. A couple of times there was only enough road for traffic going one way and in one of these sections the water was lapping at the bottom of the doors of our car. By the time we reached Te Kuiti we were wondering if our campsite was even going to be above water. At that stage we made the decision to go and at least look at the campground and return to Te Kuiti to find accommodation if it was flooded out.


The white “side of road” marker

We arrived at Ngaherenga; Pureora Forest Park campground at about 6.15pm to find it above water and reasonably dry despite the occasional showers that were coming through. By this stage we all wanted to be out of the car, were tired and a bit hungry. The campground was pretty quiet and we picked out a spot; I got some food together as MJ got the tent up, blew up the airbeds and got things set up for the evening. By the time the next really big shower came through we at least had things set up and warm food in our bellies.

My biggest disappointment of this campground was although the information on the DOC website had stated that the campground was “wheelchair accessible” the “facilities” weren’t. Yes, you could get around the campsite in a chair, the problem was however that the longdrop (outhouse or privy) was not. You would not have been able to fit a narrow manual wheelchair through the door and there were no rails. I could make it “work” but many others may not be able to. The closest fully accessible toilet was a 3min drive down the road to the entrance of the Timber Trail tracks.


Setting up
The longdrop
Staying dry thanks to FurtherFaster

Beautiful end to a “bad” weather day

Pureoara Forest was one of the last sections of native forest in New Zealand to be opened to harvest in 1946; although surrounding areas had been harvested prior and then incorporated into the park at a later date. Primarily a podocarp forest this forestry was shut in 1978 after people mobilized and held the “Tree-house” protests which was instrumental in closing the NZ native forest logging industry. Some of the machinery used in these times is still onsite and I found it the machinery both fascinating and somewhat heartbreaking as the amount of destruction it has caused our environment. Much of the park has an extensive pest control program and has a population of Kokako, although we didn’t see or hear the Kokako, the number of Kaka we saw at our campground is testament to the fact that the pest control program is working. The “Timber Trail”, once roads and tramlines used in logging operations, now draw mountain bikers and trampers from around the world.



We had a pretty good sleep despite some hunters that had turned up a little late and made a bit of a racket and an almighty “crack” of something falling in the forest, we awoke to a misty but pleasant morning on the 15th. We puttered about getting coffee and breakfast, got the car re-organised and set off to the field base to let them know there would be an Assistance Dog on site for a couple of days. I have taken a more pro-active approach to letting DOC know that I will be in an area since a field ranger ran after me because they had heard that there was a dog in a “NO Dogs” zone. The ranger we spoke to at base had absolutely no problem with the dog being around and his response was “nah all good, there’s heaps of dogs around here” which I thought was contradictory to the information I had found on the DOC website stating that the dogs needed to be permitted.

From the base we headed to the “Buried Forest”, this proved to be a little harder than anticipated as there was no signage. We found out later that their had been someone through a couple of weeks before who had smashed most of the signs and that DOC was waiting for the new signs to arrive.  We soon discovered that although we were expecting a petrified forest, it was still very much buried; the only thing to see was a sign stating that a contractor was looking to drain the swamp in 1983 to find that there was literally a forest buried in the swamp. The site was studied and it was found to be a primarily podocarp forest that had been buried by the Taupo eruption in the second Century AD and the site was left as is.  On the way back to the campground we stopped and checked out some of the steam powered machinery left after the logging in the area was stopped.


This is about the only thing to see at the very much Buried Forest


Steam powered Log hauler
Checking pics while ADNZ Ben is bored

We arrived back to the campsite to find yellow “hazard” tape around the area we had set up camp and a couple of DOC workers painting the long drop. Although I had a bit of a look above where were had set camp I had not realized that some of the surrounding trees had been found to be rotting from the inside out so DOC had decided to close a couple of site to reduce the risk; which probably accounted for the crashing noise during the night. So we needed to move our tent. To the bemusement of the DOC workers we simply picked up the tent and walked it over to the new site, I guess there are some benefits to having an alpine rated tent that has really good supports in it, even though if you have to carry it the weight can be a big downside!

After lunch we headed to the Forest Tower, at 12m tall, this is located near the site of the 1978 Treetops Protest that led directly to New Zealand abolishing native logging and many projects to restore what little native forest we had left at that time. Walking through this area was amazing, only minutes down the road we had passed a logging tractor and the regenerating forest. We were surrounded by both regenerating forest and the older, larger “original” trees. I could see why people were protesting that the 1000 year old treasure should be left in place and not felled. I don’t think I could ever really describe how breath taking these specimens of NZs amazing fauna actually are. To stand at the top of the 12m tower looking over the forest canopy was truly spectacular.


Bulldozer and log hauler from the 1950s on just down the road from the Forest Tower
Heading in through regenerative forest
A rare pic of the elusive MJ



Keruru while walking into the tower





From the top of the tower we spied this Keruru sunning themselves



We got back to the campground at about 3 pm and just lazed around for awhile, and we had the place to ourselves, however at about 5.30 pm it seemed that the place was engulfed by international tourists. Several car camping and motor home groups turned up. The problem I had with that was that they were using the bush as a toilet because the DOC workers had been painting the long drop during the day they had taped it off for the night so the paint could dry. We had been strategically driving down the road (3 mins) at certain times to use the toilet there. Because I knew why the longdrop was taped off and knew it was so the paint could dry and not because it was dangerous; I must admit I ducked under the tape to relieve myself in the middle of the night. There was a water source not far from this campground so such flagrant disregard for our eco-system really annoys me and it does nothing to boost local relationships with the visiting campers. We knew there were BBQs at this campground and because I have seen many campground completely stripped of deadwood (and people chopping off whatever branches they can get at) for firewood, we came prepared and enjoyed some time in front of a fire with the classic wood-fired smoores for dessert. Considering the toileting habits of one group of campers I was almost delighted to hear them complaining that couldn’t get a fire going because there was no dry wood around; I know it was slightly immature of me but to me it felt like the Tane Mahuta was getting one back at them.

North Island Robin that joined us for dinner

We settled in for a reasonably early night reading and were headed off to Te Awamutu on the 17th.

Nothing like a fire at the end of a good day

A shout out to FurtherFaster for keeping myself and ADNZ Ben dry!

Take care all!

Video transcript:

(19 sec) Hey everybody its Antnz from Antnz ventures, we’re now on part 2 of the road trip and we’re just in Taumaranui grabbing a couple of last min groceries,  gonna grab some lunch and we’ve got a little bit of an adventure planned.  We found an old saw mill years and years ago and MJ wants to go take some photos, so we’re going to go see if that’s even still standing or whether it’s been cleared away by the landowner and then we’re headed into Pureora forest for a couple of days.  Weathers not looking great, my parents think I’m nuts, cos were going camping in the rain but the forecast for tomorrow is absolutely spectacular so we thought we’d get in, set camp and if stuff gets wet we can dry it tomorrow and we’ll go from there.  We’ve got a few short walks at Pureora we want to do and then, yeah, I’ll update you some more as we continue. Have a fantastic day #thrivenotsurvive and take care.
(1 minute 52 sec)  Hey everybody, we’re at the old sawmill site. We found it, it hasn’t been cleared out. It is private property so were gonna stay on this side of the fence and not trespass, but we’ll take a little bit of footage and we’ve taken a photo of the contact numbers to actually view the site a bit more, so maybe in the future we’ll look at doing that and yeah, it’s like someone really did just up and leave and there’s old vehicles, there’s a big old log there, a few buildings that are literally crumbling down around us. It’s pretty weird but it’s pretty cool too, really goes to show kinda how New Zealand’s forestry at one point just packed up and left.
(2 minutes 48 sec) Voiceover So people, this is Endean’s Mill, it’s been a bit of a mission to get here. We’d first found this place on a Central North Island Rock climbing guide scouting mission over 10 years ago and we’ve always wanted to come back. On this trip because it wasn’t specifically a climbing trip we’d forgotten our copy of the guide back in Palmy Nth, so a big thank you to Jess at the Turangi Doc Office who amazingly helped out with our kinda weird question and happened to have a copy of the guide at home.
This is the last somewhat intact native saw mill still in existence in New Zealand. It was originally located at Matiere and relocated here at Waimaha in 1927 and operated until 1996. This was a steam powered mill and was powered by the offcuts and sawdust produced by the mill itself.
Endean’s is a testament to New Zealand’s past, with the first recorded exports of wood to the Royal Navy in 1794, the first steam powered mills imported into New Zealand in 1842 and wood exports being New Zealand’s primary industry up until about 1912. Milling was a hard life with significant injury and fatalities were common place.
Here at Endean’s the timbers mainly milled were Totara for fencing, Rimu for framing and Matai for flooring, and this provided the basis for its own little community up until the point it shut in 1996.
(5min 2secs) Oh look at that crag spot.
(6 mins 7 sec) Hey everybody, we’re at the campground, but we didn’t get in till late, so cooking a bit of a feed. MJ’s setting up the tent. I’ll do a bit of a campground tour soon, I just wanted to check in and say “hi, I’m hungry, I’m tired, I need a feed, I need some meds”, and then I’ll give you a bit of a tour. Ben’s under the table, chilling out wanting food himself. So we’re going to get ourselves sorted and I’ll then check in soon.
(6 minutes 36 secs) Hey people, so we’re at the Ngaherenga campground, it’s a DOC site. There’s heaps of birdcall, there’s our tent and our vehicle. Ben’s over there, MJs trying to take photos and that thing there, that’s the longdrop. Pretty sure I can hear a Kaka, screeching away, it’s a beautiful little spot. It’s just on 8 o’clock at night. Sun’s starting to go down, over there. We’ve caught a little bit of a break in the weather for now and it is supposed to clear up for tomorrow, so here’s hoping it does, cos we’ve got a couple of pretty cool trips planned. I’ll just finish off the 360, registration and fees box, over here and a bit of information on the campground itself.
(7minutes 40 secs) Morning people, feeling a little bit jaded, it’s twenty to eight in the morning, on… Wednesday, ah sorry Thursday the 15th; as usual wake up early camping.  Been a bit of bird life around. Some couple of hunters turned up earlier, well, later last night than we got here, made a bit of a racket, but that camping  and considering this is a 16 site campground, and there were like, 3 of us groups here, we’re pretty lucky really. Pretty misty this morning, it should burn off and kinda go from there really. Check into Field Base, let them know there is an assistance dog on site, just so people don’t waste their time looking for a dog in a “no dogs” zone. I am having my coffee and its first thing in the morning and I need my coffee, you’re lucky I’m even talking to you. Um, yeah, so thrive not survive people and catch ya up in a bit.
(9 minutes 4 secs) Hey people, had some coffee so it’s a bit easier to talk now. Still finishing off my breakfast and it looks like it’s going to be an absolute cracker of a day, once all this mist and cloud has burned off. Even though it was a really crap drive up yesterday, to the point that the road was flooded in a couple of areas, I’m glad we got up yesterday and made camp, cos then we don’t have to waste time today driving. Probably going to do a couple of short walks today, check in at the field office so some poor DOC ranger doesn’t have to track me down going “No, you’re not allowed a dog here”. But apart from that we’re doing good, just kinda setting up, getting into the day. Probably going to rearrange the car and set up a clothes line somewhere, cos things did get a little bit damp last night as we came in.
Yeah, that screeching you can hear is the Kaka, that one, yup, but trying to get shots of the Kaka are a bit of a mish, cos they’re either hiding in the tree or flying very quickly overhead. But yeah, we’re just going to enjoy the day really and I’ll keep you up to date with where things are at; remember, thrive not survive.
(10 minutes 22sec) Um…  buried forest was a bit naff really, didn’t see a lot, but we’re going to go and have a look at the viewing tower and stuff after lunch. Just having a feed; a bit of a change in campsite. Turned up back at the tent and it had been cordoned off, cos there’s a dangerous tree around. So all good on DOC for letting us know that it’s not a good site, but you know just had to move and that’s no big deal cos we have.
(10 minutes 52secs) To the right around the corner is where we were set up and now we’re set up here. Should get a bit more morning sun and hopefully we might see the Kaka play around tonight, which will be cool. (MJ off camera) “It’s a beautiful day”… Beautiful, beautiful day, just like we predicted and even though it rained last night, we’re both glad we didn’t waste a day travelling cos it is gorgeous.
(11minutes 19 secs)  We’re in Pureora Forest and we found the tree tower. 12m tower, you know me if there’s something to climb I will. I’m really looking forward to getting to the top and taking some, some spectacular shots really I’m guessing.  There is some amazing regenerative forest through here, was milled at one stage but it’s all bouncing back beautifully and I will see you at the top.
(11minutes 51sec) Here we are at top of the tower. It’s a Rimu, a whole lot of other trees I can’t identify right off the top of my head, but I tell you what, it is spectacular. Down in here, I’ll just zoom in, we have a wood pigeon sunning himself; I don’t know whether the video is very clear on that for you, but I will have some shots to post in here later. I can only imagine what this place would have been like before felling, so this is all regenerative. I’d say some of these big ones are originals, but um, wow. I can only imagine what New Zealand would have been covered in this stuff, but I can also see why it was considered a pretty good resource, make us some money.
So we’re 12 metres up, looking out over the five-finger and the punga.
(14minutes 39secs) Hey guys, back at campsite and we’re pretty much going to chill for the rest of the day. It is five past three, went to the buried forest, ah yeah, thanks MJ. We also went and climbed a 12 metre tower, spectacular view. I can hear a Kaka screeching somewhere.


(15mintes 13 secs) You can hear them but can you see them. Nah not very often, (MJ off camera) “I got some good shots” MJ got some good shots of one this morning and hopefully this campsite which is a bit different from the one last night we might be able to see them a little easier. So just really checking in and saying “hey, full on day, we’re both pretty stuffed but it’s been awesome.” Campground is nice and quiet, somethings crashing around in the bush. (MJ off camera) “Probably a pigeon” Pigeon or a Kaka, no that was a Kaka, but *blows something off arm* I’m not quick enough to move the camera that fast. A few bugs around, hopefully we don’t get eaten too badly, yeah mozzie repellent, gotta have it, I can’t find any horopito so that kinda threw that one out the window as a mosquito repellent, which usually works pretty well. Thrive not survive, check in later. 


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