Friday, April 10, 2009

Meandering in the Makaroro

There is always, for me, a slight sense of forboding and unease when I undertake solo journeys into the mountains. A recent run of comments on my last post addressed solo travel, and the book by Aat Vervoorn, Mountain Solitudes, a book I read at least once a year. Don from over at Like Minds - New Zealand Landscape and Thoughts - , I thought summed it up pretty well writing he has recognized when on solo trips that "this is not the day, nor the time to continue Donald", and that as Aat alludes to about traveling alone in rugged country that "we need to have all our ducks in a row emotionally and mentally". And physically as well.

So for a few reasons I felt somewhat reluctant to take on my planned trip to the Ruahines, in spite of having the time to do so, a rare enough occurrence these days. The arthritis in my hip has been acting up, it is the roar or deer mating season meaning the mountains will be filled with hunters so the chances of a completely solitude filled journey I thought fairly remote, the weather which had been lovely was meant to turn while I planned being away. All easy enough reasons to postpone, yet I also had reason to celebrate. The wind mill farm proposed for the Puketoi ranges has been defeated, a battle won in a big war. And as always in the fall I want to roam in the mountains and feel and taste the change in the seasons. They seem more wild and more moody for some reason. And so, after changing my route 3-4 times, I simply chose a route that would let me move in any weather, packed my swag and left early in the morning. When the sun rose is was a most beautiful day.

Beech forest at the bottom of Parks Peak ridge after climbing the connecting spur.

Looking across Makaroro valley to the main Ruahine range, Maroparea and Te Atua Mahuru are the high points.

South from the ridge looking back at the main range and Te Atuaoparapara and the Three Johns.

Looking back south on Parks Peak ridge. A lot of climbing, and a ways to go yet!

6 April
Parks Peak

Sitting out on the ridge looking across to the Totara spur and main range, wee dram in hand. I am not, as I thought, to be alone in the hut. Back in 2004, on a similar fall excursion I met two hunters in the old hut and spent some time with them. And here was one of them again, and he recognized me straight off - though there probably are very few big Yanks running around these hills to be fair. His mate Adam, had a 9 point stag head he had shot after a grueling stalk. I also ran into a guy fly camping way back on the ridge and a nice chat with him as well. So instead of being miffed my solitude is impacted, I am just going to enjoy the company and my time here. It seems pretty clear in my formerly doubtful head up here. I have my bivvy bag but it is pretty chilly already and that hut fire seems to be calling me.

It was a long walk, it always is. This is the 10th time I have done it, Nigel, John, Taylor, Gyro, Jeremy, Jacob, all have done the hard yards. And now 5 times on my own. Another reason for celebration, and each one of those people would acknowledge it has never been easy. On a day like today, all my doubts faded when I finally got up that spur and I just toughed it out and made sure I stopped to smell the roses.

Pete, left, and Adam with the 9 point stag head.

North west from the ridge, in the distance is Ngauruhoe, one of the active volcano's in the north island.

6 April
Parks Peak hut

I got back in the hut and was handed a cup of tea by Adam. We all sat down by the fire, and pretty much the first thing Pete asks me is "How do I feel about all this wind mill stuff going on?". Pretty amazing really, and after he, Adam and I thrashed that one around, we also got into talking about 1080 poison, conservation, and loving Wild Places. Not religion, or politics. Pete has hunted here at Parks Peak for 9 years now, Adam for 4 - today was his first well earned stag. These guys have history here, they have things to say, as do I. The interesting aspect I think I just observed here was that being amongst a wild place, becoming immersed in it, almost part of it, doesn't make it less wild, it makes us love it more, and thus make us more aware, and more sensitive to how easily it is to impact that, to change it forever and irrevocably. I am moved to find these guys who care as much as I do. I have found that from far away, and it is so beautiful to find it within.

We feasted on fresh venison back steaks and tenderloins that Pete and Adam most generously shared with me, and toasted our astute observations a few times as well. It is after all, a Celebration, and any moments in these mountains are ones to enjoy. The tough ones make the easy ones better.

Almost a full moon at Parks Peak hut.

7 April, 2009
Upper Makaroro hut

Even on the longest of summer days the sun never lasts long on this narrow part of Upper Makaroro valley. In the fall and winter the afternoons grow short. Here I linger by the river, I am free to relish and roam this remote flat. The Makaroro rolls by gently, its song muted by the recent lack of rain. She starts to reveal her symphony, steady and beat keeping up on the calmer straighter end of the flat, then gathering into a higher string section gathering into the small rapid below, and releasing into a final crescendo below. From above an ominous wind reaches down from the high tops, out of sight far above, and rolls through the beeches and river grasses. I get to sit here the rest of this day and just Listen.

Makaroro river and pool across from the hut

The view down river from the flat in front of the hut

The Makaroro quietly rolls by.

Upper Makaroro
Late Afternoon

My son Charlie, 6, asked me a few days ago if I could "understand" birds because I whistle a lot, and in particular to the tui's which live amongst our little patch of unruly bush we call a yard. Charlie has learned to whistle and so has a lot of questions and observations about whistling. So I was sitting down here by the river thinking about that and I decided to practice my very bad imitation of a Whio call.

As if by fate, within 30 seconds a Whio came whistling around the corner of the above black and white photo, and flew directly over my head and landed at the upper end of the flat. I was stunned, I was shaking, it is the first Whio I have seen in over 2 years and I have missed their presence enormously. They, to me, represent the Heart and Soul of these mountains. They are reason enough for me to wander these mountains, to care for them, to love them. With tears in my eyes I crept quietly up the flat and just watched him, perfectly in sync and in tune with his mountain home. He flew off up river in that marvelous unerring flight, and even more to my delight flew back a few minutes later, followed by another pair! A few moments with the Whio. All the doubt and fear and worry I may have felt in my solo journey is now gone, these few moments have validated the other side of those emotions, and I am filled beyond words with Joy and Love for these mountains.

Whio above photographed by Pohangina Pete. More of Pete's outstanding photos can be viewed at , or his equally outstanding writing and photos at: .

The start of the track from the Makaroro river to the top of Parks peak ridge. In almost dead center on the dark beech is the next marker. A very steep climb of over 2 hours awaits. Through one of the most beautiful forest walks in the Ruahines.

It climbs.......

And climbs......

And climbs........

And then climbs some more.....

And finally there! The Makaroro now lies below and Parks Peak hut only a few minutes away. Time to boil the billy for a well earned cup of tea.

"Makaroro Climb"

I roamed high above the pristine waters
the whio's domain still within
as up hard and relentlessly I am pulled
till the river is but a gentle murmur far below
and the forest emerges and encompasses my soul
Shafts of sunlight paint colours
beyond my words
Stunted beech hold their weary appendages to the sky
beseeching but never yielding
to the familiar brutal gales
even now whistling high above
Cold, snow, and sleet greet my presence here
and I meet the rough and beautiful leatherwood
the most resilient of all
I roam amongst this place and smile
These last few moments mine alone
and I look down upon this intimate Journey

Pete and Adam getting stuck into chopping and sawing firewood. A hut bound day for hunters with gale like nor'west winds, and a storm about to blow in.

Moss and lichen covered stunted beech, a stunning feature of this damp and wind blown ridge.

Stunted beech forest and track on Parks Peak ridge near the hut.

The storm rolls in over the main Ruahine range.

This guy accompanied me the whole time. He didn't say much but was a pretty good guy. I liked him!

8 April Parks

Parks Peak

The sun sets on this day, on this trip. I have been wandering around outside all through this stormy day just being amongst the mountain paradise and this magical place. It is easy enough to retreat back to the hut for hot cup of tea or soup, then head out again. The wild weather just adds to the ambience. I have had moments of doubt and moments of unequaled joy. Moments to reflect upon already as I sit here writing by candle light gazing out the window of Parks peak hut and upon this place I love so much. She whispers gently in my ear.


p.s. - To those whom may read here and took the time to read and sign our petition against the Puketoi wind farm project I offer my humble thanks and gratitude. The project has been defeated and I firmly believe we helped create awareness. As Abbey wrote, "We stand for what we stand on". Kia kaha!


kylie said...

hi robb,
i'm pleased to see you have been back in your beloved mountains. somehow i think i would prefer that to the three theme parks in five days that i am about to undertake
catch you later


Donald said...

Hi Robb

I just picked up on our latest post - sort of been expecting it knowing you were away on a mission!

You've really captured the flavour of it - I just love the shots made on the ridges, and such lines seem to me have it all - the reward for the big puff to get up there. Then to be able to travel along always able to look across and down at such lovely country can be like a pathway through the heavens. And all the more special to do it alone which often gives us time to savour the essence. Thanks for sharing it!

I did my own wee solo ramble today [which I'll post tomorrow] - though only a few hours it's really put me in the mood. It's funny how sometimes I never feel alone too! Does this happen to you? I did not even think about it today, and I've only realised this now as I write. Maybe it is the shadow ;)

Yes, hunters seem to care heaps about the wild places too. Experienced ones I've shared huts with have openly admitted that hunting has become the excuse to go into the hills [if they needed an excuse].



adam said...

Most excellent account.
Good news and fine photos.
While you were descending from your transfigurative mountain, Ryan and I decided against a quick run up north Yellowstone way because of the late winter storms roiling around these parts. Instead, we did a crazy run to the south and east.
We left on Thursday morn and got home again early in the afternoon on Friday.
Too much driving, and too much beauty passed up like a blur on the side of a road, really. Oh, but it was and is stunning beautiful. The moon over your hut was cascading on the side cliffs and glinting from riffles on the Colorado River, ripened by one more day. It was hard to hide from the light it cast into my heart, I'll tell ya.
I'm glad you ate much more heartily than you'd even hoped, and salute the way you made your journey, Robb.
Beauty, indeed. Whistle on, sir.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
I think Charlie might enjoy the theme parks if he had the option between them and the mountains, but I surely did enjoy my time amongst them. Hope you are having a great Easter holiday.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
It certainly is a pathwy throught eh heavens as you write, especially on a day like I had going in. I din't quite get the full measure of solitude I wanted, but for the first time I realized that having solitude means more than just having a hut to myself. I have some thoughts rumbling around about solo travel and have to let them develop more before I attempt to write them, but much does centre around that feeling of NOT being alone - the picture of the shadow hit me right between the eyes really.
Yes, I did very much enjoy my interaction with Pete and Adam and I firmly would write they would be in the camp of being there for reasons beyond simply shooting deer as well. We all need to simplify our lives from time to time.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Adam,
Cheers brother! So glad to read you and the Coyote were rambling about as well refilling your spirits. I thought of you guys while traversing my ridge. Part of what I am getting my head around as written above to Donald on solo journeys is the energy we have within us of kindred spirits, of which I include you both. It is fairly powerful to know you were looking up at that same moon and feeling the same things. I shall whistle on Adam, may you as well my good sir!

Anonymous said...

The stag makes my mouth water...all-though, I might just attempt vegaterianism...I wish I could figure the world out...

Good to know you were out in the Fall time and that large animals were about as well. Our Father's-Father's would smile, I guess...I hope...

Listen for us as "She whispers" man, can't wait to get out there again...can't wait to here about your next trip!

Dave said...

Thanks for sharing your journey, and congratulations on your victory over the wind plant! (We're still fighting one slated for the Allegheny Front opposite our ridge. It's pretty doubtful we'll be able to defeat it.)

pohanginapete said...

Glad the trip worked out so well, Robb. I was keeping an eye on the weather and wondering how you were getting on; suspected you'd have been luckier than the forecast had initially suggested.

It's curious how meeting people in the hills so often turns out to be a bonus rather than a disappointment. While I love being there on my own, the occasional times I've met others have usually left me feeling delighted.

So glad you got to spend some time with the whio, too. I couldn't agree more with your assessment of what they represent. :^)

Anne-Marie said...

Kia ora Robb, glad to read your account of your latest trip to the Ruahine. It sounds like you had a wonderful time and the magic is still there for you. I particularly loved the photo of Ngauruhoe and of the nearly-full moon.
Hope all is well with you.

D'Arcy said...


That photo of the moon, that small white orb in the corner of that photo, made my heart skip a beat. I can only imagine what that vast expanse of sky and mountain could be like in reality.

I think the Ruahines are creation. You've often referred to the range in the female form. The woman gives birth to the child. And the moutains give birth to various things as well. They help you bring your poems to life. They seem to make everything on them grow. The green grass, the animals, the sunshine, the human spirit.

What a great adventure your embark upon every time you enter her fortress.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lost Coyote,
I appreciate your appreciation of the stag. It is tough country to hunt as one must go beyond The Beaten Track to find where real mountain inhabitants hang out. Not many do so, and most that do have spent Time in specific areas learning what the Land is Saying. I honour that and it is good to spend moments with such souls. I have also met in the mountains hunters helicoptered in, playing big bush man for a week, along with the 10 dozen cans of beer the chopper dropped off. Totally different story.
I will listen for the Whispers brother!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Dave,
Cheers, it was a fine few days in the autumn. I was actually quite surprised we won, and keep waiting for the expected counter attack. I think one of the keys is to communicate with the many other interests and get focused on a few key issues rather than a very splintered approach in opposition. We face many more tough battles no doubt. Best of luck.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pete,
It was only the last full day on my way back up to Parks Peak that the weather turned, aside from the wind picking up. And on my walk out I timed it perfect for the change to a southerly so 3 hours I had perfectly still weather, then it started pouring the last hour.
I agree, and when I look back in retrospect almost all the deep placed interactions I have had have been fantastic and interesting. And running into people you have met before is pretty cool as well. Still a wee bit wary of choppers though.
You certainly came to mind when I encountered the Whio. It was thrilling, and validating. Hope we can catch up soon.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Anne-Marie,
It is all still there indeed. I wanted to wake up in the middle of the night and get some shots of the hanging mosses under the moon light as they literally glow and shine. I fell fast asleep in the hut! We are all well, and trust you are as well - was glad to read your knee is getting better. Hope we can catch up soon.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
I have always viewed Nature from a feminine perspective, there is more comfort in that somehow for me. So you make perfect sense to me. Glad you like that photo, I do too. I had to work my way back to furthest edge of the clearing to get both the moon and hut in it. Good fun. It really is a great place to just roam about. Cheers D'Arcy.

vegetablej said...

Very beautiful pictures, especially of the mountain tops and the light shining through the trees onto mosses. Such soft colours. I'm glad your celebration walk went well, though I'm sad to see that poor stag is no longer enjoying the mountains.

Happiness is no windmills in the wild mountains!


Donald said...

Hi Robb

Yes, and maybe the little tracks or easy going on ridges is a form of simplicity, but they're all the more precious when we know these are not places to be taken lightly in deteriorating weather or to get caught on unprepared. Timing is everything in life!

I look forward to your thoughts on solo with or without the shadow. If you've read Shackelton's account of crossing Sth. Georgia he has some interesting things to say about the company they had. I know starvation can affect perception as I once did a 17 day trip and the food ran out on day 12, and many will say this causes hallucinations, while others will say it heightens awareness! So are we ever truly alone?

My son's with me right now too - school holidays. However work [done at home] beckons, so I must close now, as I'm planning a long weekend with him somewhere interesting.



Ruahines said...

Kia ora VJ,
The culling of deer can very problematic for those who do not hunt, or eat meat, or even believe in killing animals. However, as deer are an introduced species to New Zealand with no natural predators to keep the populations in check they would very soon, and have, developed into great herds capable of causing huge damage to forests, and rivers due to unchecked erosion, and worse for the deer, death by slow starvation when the food becomes too scarce. It is an ongoing problem for our mountains, and has many off shoots as well. As with the trout we ate back early in the year, I said a little prayer of thanks to the mountains and to the deer. Part of the cycle of life.
I am happy you enjoy those photos, the closest I have come to capturing that sort of light in the upper forest. The colours on any given day, depending on the weather conditions reaffirm to me there is a God.
Thank you VJ for tuning in, and your help with petition. The battle is not over yet, I read today Contact Energy is preparing to appeal, which I expected. Too much money involved. We shall fight on! Kia kaha!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
There are indeed points upon that ridge we would not want to be on a bad day. Hard stuff to understand with a photo. Sometimes you just relish the good days eh?
I do love Shackelton and Amundsen in preference to Scott, and completely identify with the presence on South Georgia. It really is a matter of ourselves.
Must go, the boys are fighting, and I must break it up.

Gustav said...


The first photo beautifully portrays the feeling of a solo journey.

The bare, knarled branches reaching skyward searching for meaning and light, like our souls which are curly and knarled and in search of the unknown heavens that await us here on Earth and beyond Yan Soup Kan.

Ophelia Rising said...

Robb, how beautiful and amazing! What a journey you've had! I adore all the photos, the lovely waters, the trees full of magic and wisdom, the whios. I love that Charlie asked you about the birds, and I find it interesting that you often whistle. (I sing often to myself, quite subconsiously, and although I'm not a terrible singer, my daughter asks me, every once in awhile, to "keep it down")!

Incredible that you saw the whio here, as if he/she was somehow giving you thanks for your love of these ranges, and your tireless efforts to help prevent the windmills. The whio might have been some mountain spirit, coming to you in gratitude and acknowledgment of your connection there. I love thinking this!

The gradual climb in pictures is wonderful, too. I am in awe of the brush there - just so unlike anything I've seen. It always appears a little unwordly to me, some magic land, a spiritual haven. I hope to explore it, someday...

Aroha, dear Robb, and also to your beautiful family...

Jamie said...

Good on ya Robb,

Love reading of your travels and thoughts.

I love seeing people in the hills and always assume they are likeminded people to meet. I have seen people with other ideas, and thats fine I guess, but I think they are missing the point.

Take care man hopefully catch you before long


Robin Easton said...

I have been back here several times over the last few weeks to see if you had posted, and then I got buried is work this week, and decided to not do a lot of commenting. Instead do some hiking. Only several miles on certain days, but a lot of it barefoot.

Tonight I was thinking about your trip and I thought I would come and just read, even if you had nothing new poste, just so I could connect to your love of the wild, and hence connect more fully to myself. As I did not get to hike today --to much work.

I read this and as usual cried. There really aren't any words Robb. I just cried. I felt your connection to the deepest part of yourself, your greatest love. And here at the end of a long long day I needed to feel that as the wild is the deepest part of me, my greatest love.

Your trip sounds like it was perfect, maybe in different way than other times, yet sitll so perfect. I was touched that Charlie was so much with you that you thought about whistling and actually called the whoi in. That is pure magic. Such an honor and thrill.

I stood on the high desert the other evening after a six mile hike and just listened to the evening song birds. I called back to them with whistles and caws, the sun was setting so softly, and I felt intensely alive with the wind in my hair and my barefeet on the awakening Earth. In that moment I knew exactly who I was, and I was so in love, I stood there and wept from it.

Thank you for reflecting what is important and real and "genuine".

Thank you Robb for everything.
Aroha dear Wild Brother.
I am always grateful and humbled to know you. Robin

Barbara Martin said...

Robb, your hiking excursion was wonderful to read and follow along with the photos. The scenery is awesome and so very different from that of western Canada.

For your arthritis: try half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water with a spoonful of honey, every morning before breakfast. In a week or sooner your pain should be gone completely. I have a bad hip too and knees that ache on stairs, but after taking this concoction the pain is gone and stairs no longer pose any problems. It's a natural health remedy that's been around thousands of years.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Brother,
Ha! Yan Soup Kan indeed lies beyond! But what of Beyond Yan Soup Kan? We still ponder this 25 years later my friend, and it is good to know we are no closer to an answer. Yet still we ask the Question - perhaps we have learned someting after all my treasured companion. I am glad it was you whom understood the meaning of that beech, or at least expressed it here. You understand my brother. Kia ora!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Ophelia,
I would love to Hear you sing in the Ruahines. That would be delightful, perhaps one day eh!
I love your words on the whio and mountains and it warms my soul to feel inside that perhaps that is True, the Whio was Thanking US for caring. There will still be more work to do, but having your spirit involved gives me strength and courage.
The Ruahines are very patient my awesome friend, they will wait for you....

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Right back at ya brother! I have been greatly enjoying your explorations of the north island, and a catch up will be due soon.
You know, when I think of it, 99% of the interactions I have had with others in the mountains has been good, some of it amazing. I am learning to focus on that rather than the 1%. Not always easy but I am getting there. Have a fabulous weekend mate!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
Oh my Wild Sister how you understand! Your words, "your trip sounds like it was perfect, maybe in a different way than other times, yet still so perfect", caused chills to run through my entire being. Those are almost the exact words I wrote in my notebook at Parks Peak via candle light to finish my trip and I did not include them in my post. I am blown away and so Reaffirmed in this Connection. You were there Wild Sister, you really were! It was different, yet it was exactly what we needed. The thoughts of you and Ophelia ran so strong within me when I connected with the Whio - they are so stunning.
I am so happy to know you are out there roaming the desert, loving and caring for the Earth, for Nature every where, for human kind. You are an unabashed inspiration and light in my life. Rave on Wild Sister! Kia kaha!
Aroha always,

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
I shall get the ingredients you suggest and start this week. I have opened myself up to looking into many things including acupunture, yoga, tai chi, and various supplements. I thank you kindly for the recipe.
I am glad as always you enjoy the scenery here as I certainly love my virtual tramps in western Canada at your place.

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Robb

so busy lately, somedays I forget or don't have time to tie my shoe laces.

it was a joy to read your blog tonight and hear you reading your own heart and recognising your limitations at certain times.

Glad you enjoy Aaty's book. Real food for thought on solo trips.

Great news about the windmills/windfarm proposal being stopped.

Enjoyed tripping with you and the photos.


Lynda Lehmann said...

Oh, how beautiful Robb: your words and photos and how they convey the exhilaration of your hike.

Wish I could be there to experience the terrain you know so well.

The moss and lichen are stunning, as is the stunted beech forest! Magical!

Whenever I visit your blog, I long for the wild places.

When as a kid, I was a "tomboy," it was because nature pulled on me so much more strongly than toys and especially, dolls and such. I know I'm lucky to still feel the same way: it's nature that sustains me, on every level.

Wishing you many more wonderful long treks. :)

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
I read Aat's book when I first had to contemplate solo travel to continue my love of the Ruahines and it was a bible to me in many ways. The fact I then met you, and you have traveled in rugged terrain with Aat brings a certain synchronicity to me.
The wind mill fight has only begun, as you know there are so many battles. It is good to discover our voices can indeed be heard though.
I know you are flat out and appreciate your visit. Hope the UN seminar goes well, and if I know you New York is due for a good party. Kia kaha Bob!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
I feel like you are there as well, all the people who visit here regularly. I find myself trying to see through the eyes of others at times, or maybe it just happens that way. If that makes any sense.
When I travel that particular ridge I just am overwhelmed at times. Those beeches, lichens, mosses, and probably hundreds of other plants I do not know the names of are not done justice by my photographic skills, or decided lack of. It really is an amazing micro world, and I KNOW you would absolutely fall in love with its charms and beauty, and volatile nature. Wishing you Nature in your day my lovely friend.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Robb, just checking in to see your response to my comment--sometimes I forget to sign up for the comments on a post.

I know I would love it too. I'm so glad I have people like you and Robin and my other blogging friends to share with.

I remember during college days when I was walking home from the dining hall, holding a beautiful red apple. I was admiring it for its form and color and shining beauty, and my dorm friends were snickering.

I'm still that way to this day, marveling over fruits in the bowl, flowers in the garden, and outside, trees, bark, water, moss and lichen, etc.... But I'm way too old to care if anyone is chuckling over my preoccupations.

Seems so many of us have a longing to be connected to and comforted by nature, while too many of us have strayed from that inner core of sanity and grounded-ness in our human experience, that tells us it is Earth that sustains us. Sharing our blogs does a lot to reassure me that we who revere nature, may eventually prevail. :)

Anonymous said...

What hypocrites you and your friends are, going out to appreciate nature and then killing, photographing, cooking and eating the results of your day admiring the wildlife. You disgust me and all like-minded people.

Ruahines said...

To No Name
Read else where. Where did your last plastic wrapped meal come from? Get a life. You are only disgusted by the very bile which lies within you. Read else where.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
I love the word "Chuckling" and have used several times today after reading your comment.
You have a Gift Lynda, and what you see and interpet Enriches all of us. Kia ora!

kylie said...

hi robb
i just dropped by here for a quick look and i cant hel but comment on the anonymous comment.
i believe that unless i am prepared to put my name to my thought then i shouldnt write them.
and what is wrong with killing, eating & photographing?
i dont know that i would be prepared to kill and prepare an animal for eating and i recognise that there is some hypocrisy in eating flesh if i dont take responsibility for all of that so i respect you for being true to the process.

have a good weekend

Mike said...

Wow, that's deep (coming from anonymous). As far as I'm concerned, it'd be hypocritical to appreciate nature in New Zealand and not feel disturbed by the presence of deer and other introduced pests.

I for one would not object if all deer, pigs, possums, stoats, rats, wasps, and other introduced pests could be completely and swiftly exterminated from New Zealand, as long as it could be done without damaging the mutated eco-system even more than was done by their introduction... although I'll accept that since they were introduced generations ago, entire industries (eg. possum fur) and recreations (eg. deer/pig hunting) have matured, and those people should also have a say. The only reason complete extermination hasn't happened already is that it hasn't been possible, except for on a few off-shore islands for which human visitations are very strictly controlled. So far since New Zealand's delicate eco-system was contaminated, there's been no going back.

The only reason anything appears to be in equilibrium right now is because a massive number of volunteers and the New Zealand government (funded by my taxes) continuously expends large numbers of resources simply to keep the numbers of introduced pests under any kind of control, so the native species' can at least have a chance before browsing introduced predators kill their babies or eat their food and strip all the trees.

I know it sounds cruel on the face of it, but if we see a cute furry Australian Brushtail Possum on a New Zealand back-country road at night, we'll line it up in the headlights, run it over and then be happy about it. It's no worse-a-death than the alternative 1080 poison or traps they'll encounter in the bush (if we're lucky). Doing so might save another endangered native bird's eggs, and it will help to preserve a lot of native trees and everything that relies on them for survival.

Thanks for the post, Robb. I enjoyed it.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
My lovely wife thought I was a bit heavy handed in my response to No Name, but I make no apologies. To disagree and have reasoned debate is one thing, but to rudely dismiss anothers view for fairly obstuse, ignorant, and self serving ranting - and then disappearing anonymously back into cyber space I have little tolerance in putting up with. I think anyone who would regularly read here, and even the comments on this very post, Vegetable Japan's comment and my response, and also my post Reflections of Autumn, would understand my views on this. No Name also demonstrates a complete lack of any understanding of New Zealand's ecosystems and the damage wrought by introduced animals. As to if one chooses to eat meat or not eat meat, it has no relevance here, unless, as no name is apparently surmising, that Nature can only be enjoyed by vegetarians strolling happily through the woods, at one with all, Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder as it were.
In any case Kylie, thank you for your support, there have been a few expressions of dismay from people who read here. It is a big blogging world out there, so as I wrote to No Name, Read Elsewhere, surely there are plenty of places to leave anonymous narrow minded views and then dissappear.
Have a great day Kylie.

Donald said...

Hi Robb

Bit of a pain the no-name poster. However there is I'm sure no cred. - it'd need to be signed, and make sense for starters for me!

By contrast it's wonderful to contemplate the following you have, and be aware that the power of blogging can raise awareness of environments e.g. before finding your gem all I knew about the Ruahines was it was a rugged and remote mountain range in the Nth. Island. Now I know something of it's beauty and [thankfully] know many cherish it's nooks, crannies and wilderness - all due to your writings and photos.

Not only that, I know of wind farming issues that never reach our news down here in the south, where we grapple with similar ill conceived plans. Speaking of which our beloved Clutha River again seems under threat as 4 plans made up for dams thirty years ago are coming on the public's radar, and it's not by accident!

The Clutha Mata-Au River is New Zealand's largest river, and one of the most unique rivers in the world... more >>Anyway keep up the good work my friend.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mike,
Thank you for your well reasoned and thoughtful comment. As I wrote above I think if anything the anonymous commenter demonstrated was a complete lack of any knowledge of the New Zealand ecosystem and the impact of introduced animals. Quite frankly, having seen some heavily damaged possum browsed areas in the Ruahines, the only good possum in New Zealand is a dead one. Deer, Chamois, and Thar are beautiful to see, but their only predator is man and that is potentially a very unequal balance for the mountains. I am for the Whio, the Kiwi, the Kereru, Geckos and Moreporks, not stoats, rats and pigs. And I will happily munch my way through a few back steaks to help out.
Not to mention perhaps, the historical connection created by deer culling to hunting, and even more so the system of bountiful huts and tracks left behind and now managed by DOC so that people of all types and with many different reasons can roam our mountains and hills.
I enjoyed your rather timely post on the History of New Zealand Conservation and I will look for the book by Salmon. I also recently downloaded an article I found written in the early 70's on the effects of deer browsing in the Ruahines from the 30's through the 70's which made pretty sobering reading, yet seeing the regeneration first hand in some of those places now makes me feel that we are on the right sort of track in some ways. A matter of proper balance I guess. Kia ora Mike.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
I will be joining the Friends of the Clutha, and if there is anything I can do to bring awareness please let me know. Again, sychchronistically, I am formulating a post on some thoughts I have been having about Ruahine rivers, and I guess all our beautiful rivers. I was lying beside the Makaroro in the sun, writing and lounging, and when I was thirsty I literally leaned over and dipped my tin cup in her clear cold waters to slake my thirst. It occured to me that here I was, a few days up the valley and this fresh clear beautiful river rolls by innocent and free. Yet only hours from here she rolls onto farmland and becomes enslaved and dirtied to the point that many Ruahine rivers are unswimmable, fish cannot be eaten, their innocence lost before they reach the sea. Not just by farmers, but by towns and cities, by industry, by the way we live. Something is wrong there. Sign me up Don, I am in my friend. The Clutha is beyond words, I have never seen water of that colour and it moves my soul.
Perhaps one day we can wander a bit of the Ruahines if you get up this way. In the meantime, glad to share with you here and at your place.

Mike said...

Thanks Robb. Yes I found Salmon's book a fascinating read, and it also didn't take long to get through. It's quite dated, but for someone like me it's quite an amazing revelation of just how different attitudes were at the time, and the kind of frustrations that someone interested in preservation or conservation had to fight with. It's probably also biased and one-sided in some respects, but he did a very good job at making me cringe at the workings of the NZ government of the time, and made me feel fantastic about the government structure we have at the moment. Keeping in mind that politicians and parties and policies come and go and each have their quirks, but the systems of government that keeps things open-for-participation and visible to everyone --- at least compared with 1960 --- are a very significant change.

Thanks for mentioning the system of huts and routes, etc. It's a very positive side-effect of the attempts to eradicate deer and then to control them, and without it I agree far fewer people would have been introduced to New Zealand's back-country, probably including myself. I hadn't realised until reading the quiz in the latest FMC bulletin that the Ruahines has more back-country huts than any other forest park, national park or conservation area in New Zealand! This really surprised me given that some parks are much much larger in area, but it's a testament to the history of hunting and deer-culling in the Ruahines that it has so many small box-dwellings and shelters scattered through it in strategically useful places, which have been left behind and maintained for others to use.

On the introduced-animals issues, I have to admit I have trouble accepting that this ongoing programme of predator control is a sustainable thing in the long term, and it worries me. Now that I've been thinking about it I'll ask an expert when I next have an opportunity, but intuitively it seems to me that if the programme were put on hold or unfunded for just a few years for some unexpected reason (maybe a war close to home, or diverting funds to pay off the Kyoto protocol's too-much-pollution invoices, or something else), all the introduced pests could spring right back again and the eco-system would be where it was 100 years ago, with many more native species on the verge of extinction. It'd be ideal if New Zealand's eco-system could be worked towards a state where it'd keep itself in balance next time humans take a break from tidying up after themselves, whilst still preserving all native species. I can't see how this could ever be achieved, though, which is why I'm concerned its days might be numbered barring some kind of miracle or some very good science.


Lynda Lehmann said...

ROBB - I just came back to read parts of your post again. It's like getting a needed "fix" of a certain mindset that takes us outside the humdrum of everyday "civilized" life. I often think that living in the woods in harmony with nature, would be far more "civilized." I know that's an idealization and not very realistic, but I'm sure there's some truth in it.

Your posts are so rich that one can come back and find new wonders on each read. I think you should do a book. :)

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
You bring a huge smile to my face. I wish you wind in your sails my dear friend. Your words are powerful, your art more so. Kia ora!