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.