As my old New Zealand friends of nearly 40 years were showing me around their favorite haunts in the Wanganui area and introducing me to the animals on their farm (sheep, geese, and chickens), we talked about a possible visit to a parcel of native bush that they had purchased over a decade ago. I’ve been there twice, but never far from the access road. PG told me eagerly that he had constructed a shack deep within its interior and invited me to trek in with him (a rather serious hike of 2-3 hours), spend the night, and come back out the next day. I was immediately intrigued, but the weather forecast predicted a moderate likelihood of rain, so we regretfully postponed the idea until another time. But I had so enjoyed our hike around Bushy Park that I suggested a return visit and further exploration of a couple of trail sections that we had yet to see, and they readily agreed.
We entered the protected, pest-free area near the point where we had finished our hike the previous day and walked the trails in the opposite direction, to see it all from a new perspective. The sky was clear and there was no sign of rain while we were there.
Although conditions had been quite dry for some time, the forest was lush and green with epiphytes, lichens, ferns, fungi, and mosses in abundance. In places, the profusion of vines (they call them lianes) formed a tangle that seemed a formidable barrier, and I marveled at the dedication of the folk who had made the paths and of those who now maintain them.
We didn’t hear as many birds as we had the day before, but several made appearances for us. One in particular—a New Zealand robin—seemed to take a real interest in us and followed our progress with great scrutiny, at times studying us from only a few feet away.