Get into hot wa­ter on Great Bar­rier

Walking New Zealand - - New Zealand Walk -

at­trac­tive fruit bowls -- they’re a crafty lot on the is­land. The track takes about an hour each way in­clud­ing lots of chat and photo stops. Back in the minibus, feel­ing super-re­laxed af­ter my hot ther­mal soak, I must ad­mit to nod­ding off as we re­turn to Tryphena.

The other walk to be greatly rec­om­mended is in Glen­fern Sanc­tu­ary, sit­u­ated on the north­ern side of Port Fitzroy Har­bour. One side of its pest-proof fence ac­tu­ally runs along the har­bour­side. En­er­getic tram­pers walk up to the high­est point and then down the bush walk. But we are dropped at the high­est point and walk down. Even so, I find the hour-long walk quite tax­ing, with its many deep steps. But the bush-and-bird re­wards make up for my com­plain­ing knees.

Be­fore we start the walk we are in­tro­duced to one of two preda­tor dogs – this one is Tui. She comes with us to a high rocky point where the founder of the Glen­fern Sanc­tu­ary, Tony Bouzaid, is re­mem­bered in style. The hat he al­ways wore and a for­mal trib­ute are set into the rock at this very high point which must of­fer the great­est view in the whole of Great Bar­rier Is­land. You can see Mt Hob­son, Port Fitzroy, Kaik­oura Is­land, Lit­tle Bar­rier Is­land and even Hen and Chicken Is­lands.

Tony Bouzaid, cham­pion yachts­man, pur­chased a block of land here in 1992. Farm­ing had ceased in 1967 and re­gen­er­a­tion from pas­ture to for­est was start­ing. In 1994, Bouzaid started plant­ing 10,000 trees and be­gan to con­trol ro­dents – ship rats, kiore and mice. Fi­nally his vi­sion ex­panded to in­clude the whole of the Ko­tuku Penin­sula which in­cludes pri­vate as well as De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion land. He fi­nanced the preda­tor-proof fence him­self which pro­tects much of the sanc­tu­ary. Later there was a suc­cess­ful aerial erad­i­ca­tion of preda­tors. Th­ese days there is a

net­work of 1000 track­ing tun­nels and bait sta­tions and, with the help of the two ro­dent dogs, preda­tors are largely kept at bay.

When Tony Bouzaid died sud­denly in 2011, a nat­u­ral pond on his land was en­larged to make a habi­tat for pateke or brown teal, as a me­mo­rial to him. The lo­cal com­mu­nity do­nated and the lo­cal vol­un­teer fire bri­gade pumped 50,000 litres of wa­ter into the pond. There is now a thriv­ing pateke pop­u­la­tion there.

The first ‘fea­ture’ pointed out to us on the sanc­tu­ary walk is a weta nest above us. Then we cross a swing bridge into the canopy of a 600-year-old kauri tree and imag­ine how this bush must have been when th­ese grand trees were nu­mer­ous. Fur­ther down is a black pe­trel colony and, be­tween Novem­ber and May, they breed and nest here in an enor­mous gnarled old puriri tree. There are cel­ery pine, to­tara, lace­bark and rimu to be picked out on the walk.

One of the last re­main­ing pop­u­la­tions of chevron skinks in the world sur­vive in the Glen­fern Stream. Steve thinks the chevron skink should be New Zealand’s na­tional em­blem but he doesn’t get much ap­proval for that idea! A few years ago only 300 had ever been sighted in the wild and they were thought to be near ex­tinc­tion. Now, thanks to the ded­i­cated mon­i­tor­ing they get here, they are sur­viv­ing well in the ab­sence of preda­tors. The kokopu (long fin eel) and koura (small cray­fish) also live in the Glen­fern Stream.

When we emerge from the track af­ter about an hour, we’re de­lighted to see kaka do­ing ac­ro­bat­ics in the trees near the Glen­fern Cot­tage and the in­for­ma­tion cen­tre – a fit­ting fi­nale to our walk through a very spe­cial place. A cup of tea or cof­fee is also wel­come at this stage be­fore we board our minibus back to Tryphena.

Above: We re­lax in the hot ther­mal pool in the bush.

Above: We walk down through the sanc­tu­ary in regenerating bush. Be­low left: Steve demon­strates how the nikau can be made into an un­usual fruit bowl. Be­low right: Tui, one of the preda­tor dogs.

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