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.
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|
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.
|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!