Exploring wild New Zealand Naturally

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New Zealand has so much to offer when it comes to a wild and often unspoiled environment that it surprises me every time again that so few go outside the trotted path and explore the real natural environment. Of course, care must be taken not to cause any damage or leave more than a few footprints behind.

This story builds on a previous story and it is something that made me just stand there and admire the serene beauty of the scenery that opened up in front of my eyes. The scenery was literally opening up in front of me as I squeezed through a small opening between logs and large boulders.

When I emerged from that hole in the rocks I saw some huge logs spanning a small pool, showered by the water from a waterfall that only had little flow due to the time of the year. I had the feeling that I was the first human to view this place. Perhaps I was not far off, though the early loggers and Maori hunters would likely have been there before me.

The photo with this story shows the log leading towards the opening on the top right of the log. The second and third picture show what I saw first when emerging from the opening, while the fourth picture shows the waterfall from a different angle.

The rock wall behind the water fall was receding somewhat and I could walk behind it, without really getting wet. Trees with exposed roots were clinging to the overhanging rocks with various ferns completing the picture.

It are these moments that are the reward for sometimes hours of hiking, boulder hopping through streams, finding your way through seemingly impassable sections of the stream. Boulders can block your path or rapids are steep and slippery. Sometimes it is a matter of contemplating your next move, looking for signs of a path followed by animals (often goats) that would indicate a possible passage. Humans are no goats by any means and even though you found a goat track, it does not mean easy going.

I did not see a lot of signs of possums or other predators along this stream, the stream it merges with had plenty of signs of possums and probably stoats as I saw footprints in some sandy spots.

The stream appeared to be quite healthy, with several baby sweet water shrimps and various larvae. I also spotted an amphibian, which I later identified as likely to be a Hochstetter's frog, one of only 4 native frogs left in New Zealand and like the others, declining in numbers.

It was a hot day though mainly overcast, but I could not resist the sight of the waterfall and took a quick shower to cool down. The water was cooler than I expected and the force it came down with surprised me. It was a welcome refresher before starting the hike back to the Ngatuhoa lodge.

Willem

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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