I am in the heart of Whakatoea and Tuhoe country. The Tuhoe, that Maori tribe made famous by the book ‘Children of the Mist’ by Elsdon Best, a people who repulsed British incursion into their remote lands.. This is a land of legends, spirits, remote forests, misty mountains and crystal clear streams which run to the mighty Pacific Ocean.
It is Thursday, having arrived in Auckland last Monday, 20 July.
My daughter Tania and her husband Al, and 2 month old baby Aliyah live here on the nabks of the Waiotahi river. Al is deputy Director of the Kahunui Outdoor centre, which runs outdoor courses for teenage high school students from Auckland.
I left Tauranga about 1 pm yesterday afternoon and travelled in south easterly direction, into the Bay of Plenty passing Te Puke, Matata and into Whakatane where we stopped to stock up on food for the week, and I bought myself a pair of hiking boots. From Whakatane the road climbs up over a spur and then one gets a marvellous view of Ohope beach. Pohoutakawa trees dot the roadside.
Then down into Waiotahi beach where they sell fresh and cooked oysters, produced on an oyster farm in Ohiwa island, A matter of a hundred yards off shore is the island of Ohakana. This is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in the North Island.
My daughter Tania and her husband Al live about an hour away from here at Kahunui, up the Waiotahi River in the forests of Urewera
On arrival yesterday afternoon Tania was excited to get a big parcel of new nappies (diapers) by post. They are cloth an quick drying, and more environmentally friendly than disposable ones. Then she said, “ Dad, do you mind getting your feet wet ? “ Never one to miss and adventure I replied, “ Why not?”
She slung Aliyah onto her front with a piece of cloth and headed up the road we walked up a stream and waded through its icy cold waters. Aliyah started crying and was hungry. Tania put her to her breast, tightend the cloth sling, and crossed the river again. We walked another 20 minutes or so crossing the stream at least five more times, all the time admiring the Podocarp forests.
Soon we came across a group of twenty or so students, who were on a survival course. Al and two other instructors were there. They had made shelters out of any dead material they could find, and together with one piece of plastic, had a home for the night. One young women proudly showed me the bivouac she had made.
I was so happy to be in the forests again. Being there with my daughter, grand daughter and her strapping Father Al, brought a dimension I have never had before. Three generations in the forests. I thought of my great father who explored the forests, mountains, rivers and lakes of Otago and Fiordland almost 150 years ago. Six generations of McKerrows have been in the forests and mountains of NZ.
Harp Tree up Kahunui Stream
Pohutakawa Tree in Ohiwa Harbour
Low tide at Ohiwa Harbour
Stand of Kahikatea
With daughters and grand children in Tauranga. Tania holding Aliyah left and Kira right, holding Leith. I am in the middle. (all photos taken by Tania Burns)