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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Tramping and Tree Hugging with Hobbits (Day 117)

We love walking in woods and today got us thinking about how crucial they are for the human race, yet we are still decimating large areas each year. Will we ever learn?

We stopped off at Pelorus Bridge, I’d seen that there was a café rated 4.5/5 and timing worked well for lunch. Whilst researching the café, I discovered that the river nearby was used in The Hobbit where the dwarves floated down the river in barrels escaping from the wood elves. Do you recognise it from our photo?

After lunch we went on a delightful walk that the Department of Conservation manages, otherwise known as DOC. We are so impressed with the work that they do and love their vision “… for New Zealand to be the greatest living space on Earth”. Everywhere we have been here, we have witnessed the hard work that has been put into making areas accessible for people, which in effect protects other areas. It is a fine line with meeting the needs for tourists and the needs for nature and I can imagine causes much debate. It is so important that we protect the landscape of our planet, especially plants. Sadly there has been a huge amount of deforestation in NZ with both Māori burning large areas, mainly on the coasts when they arrived in the 1200s and then European settlers destroying 8 million hectares between 1840 and 2000.

Perhaps back in those times the human race was unaware that plants are essential to the continuation of our species. Through photosynthesis, plants are able to get their energy and grow directly from the sun and water. We, however, can only make energy indirectly, from eating plants or animals, who in turn, eat plants. Forests are still be decimated throughout the world, by disease, weather and sadly also by humans. According to National Geographic, areas of forests half the size of England are being destroyed each year – yes, each year! We have no excuses now.

Woodlands are such magical special places and the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve is no exception. The lush forest is full of life; trees providing homes for many, vines hooking their tendrils into trunks climbing up towards the light, lichen and moss cling onto the sides or crevices collecting water and nutrients to feed from. Native fern trees standing tall with their umbrella foliage screening the sun, tall Rimu, reaching up to 60 m grow with edible red fruit cups and small cones, tall straight Matai /Black Pine with their weird hammered appearance on the thick trunks. Yes, magical.

Our walk took us along to two waterfalls and streams that feed into the river. The paths were accessible for wheelchair users at the beginning and then turned into rougher terrain, where we were walking on soft bark, stepping over tree roots and balancing across rocks to the waterfalls. Occasionally Fantail birds would flutter near us. They are so inquisitive and one came within inches of us, I thought it was going to land on us, sadly not. A very enjoyable walk nonetheless.

Back to the car towards Picton where we suddenly realised that we were driving right past the vineyards we visited on our bikes 26 days ago. Further inspection on the map showed that we could have wiggled along the beach road – hey ho…another time.

So here we are, one night in Picton as we have the ferry to catch to the North Island early tomorrow. Our adventure on South Island is coming to a close and what an amazing time we have had. We’ll be back.

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