'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Walking up Mount Otanewainuku

Today we climb up Mount Otanewainuku.  This is an extinct volcano that is now clad in a generous lush cloak of New Zealand native forest, and is a bird sanctuary.  

We pause for a few minutes at the start to look at the Kiwi poster.  Kiwi are nocturnal birds so we won't see any but we read about them instead. 
Dogs are very good at disturbing kiwi so we've left Shelly at home today. 

 You can read all about the Otanewainuku Trust here.

As we climb up the track through the thick foliage, I try and point out species of interest:  a springy plant called Mangemange or 'Bushman's Mattress', which was used for just this purpose, the Mokimoki or  'Fragrant Fern' that smells very pleasant when it is dry - a cross between rose petals and sweet hay; and Kareao or 'Supplejack', a true liana - forest vine -  that has soft tender tips that taste of beans.  We also look for the epiphytic Kiekie which we want to try and weave into kete, or small basket-like containers.

Sometimes we spot the pink flags that mark the beginnings of the trapping lines. Volunteers check and re-bait the traps weekly to try and control the numbers of stoats, weasels, rats and feral cats that eat eggs and young birds.  Especially vulnerable are the ground-nesting birds like Kiwi*.  

As we approach the top, it gets steeper and steeper, so when we emerge into the sunshine, we're puffing, and very pleased!  We climb the steps to the platform just under the trig. marker and enjoy a drink and snack and the lovely view.

* For the millions of years before humans came to New Zealand (about 600 years ago), there were no mammalian predators at all.  (In fact the only mammals were a couple of species of bat.)  As a result, many New Zealand birds have lost the use of their wings, and nest on the ground.

Thank you Claire for the lovely images you took.


  1. that was fabulous - what a hike...and that view!!! thank you

  2. That looks awesome! Wish I could have hiked too.

  3. The name Otanewainuku means “the many waters that spring forth from the domain of Tane - overseer of the forest.

  4. You have taught me a new word today - "epiphytic"...
    It breaks my heart to think of man's casual interference with nature upon discovering new lands - New Zealand is just one example. I imagine those virgin forests filled with unique plant and bird life - an environmental balance that had taken millennia to establish - in the dappled sunlight of a semi-clearing a legendary elephant bird feeds. A Garden of Eden. Why did we have to spoil it? On Easter Island one commentator at least claims that the introduction of rats bty the first Polynesian settlers was ultimately responsible for the destruction of its unique forest environment.

  5. Richard22.11.09

    I live in California and spent 7 weeks in NZ 2 years ago. There are many parallels. We have 10% of our virgin redwoods left for example, as most of your kauri trees are gone. Europeans invaded the land and took it from the Native Americans, exploiting resources and ruining much. However, we. like NZ, have plenty of natural places to explore from seashore to mountains to desert, and like Katherine, we love to explore.

  6. Thank you everyone. Val-Dijea - it would have been nice to have you along on the hike (=tramp in Kiwi).
    Alden-do you know the link between Otanewainuku and Mauo (Mt Manganui)?
    Yorkshire - I'm amazed you didn't know what an epiphyte was - pleased to impress you! It IS rather a specific term, I guess.
    Richard - nice have you pop in here again. Soon I'll be posting more about our recent explorations with our friends who are on holiday here with us from Germany.