Our first morning at our Airbnb. Sunrise over the Bay of Islands!
Shining into our apartment. We have the lower level, a one bedroom with kitchen and bathroom. Great patio with a grill. After a leisurely breakfast, cleaning up, consulting maps and talking with our host, we headed to the closest hiking trail!
A short drive to Haruru Falls and the beginning of the hike to Waitangi Treaty Grounds through a forest and a mangrove swamp, a well protected habitat of the national bird, the Kiwi. Along the trail there are traps for stoats (weasels) that were introduced in the late 1800’s to control introduced rabbits. Instead they became another threat to the native birds, many of which are flightless, kiwi included. As we hiked into the forest we came to huge leafless trees, with huge bright red blooms (it is spring here). Amongst the branches were very raucous birds, chasing each other through the branches and feeding on the nectar of the flowers. The calls were loud, whistling, cawing, croaking sounds. Unlike anything I’ve heard! We were walking along the Waitangi river, which is the river estuary we see from our Airbnb. Huge trees lean over the river, festooned with bromeliads ( I assume).
Interspersed along the walk are large tree ferns, think of the Oregon ferns on large palm tree like trunks! These I learned are the Silver Fern, the symbol of New Zealand, worn on military uniforms and the jerseys of the All Blacks, the national rugby team!The new fronds are uncurling from the center. This tree fern was below us on the trail, so we are looking at its ‘crown’.An up-close of the fern frond. Seeing all the curled fronds I thought how similar they are to the tattoo patterns in Maori art.The underside of the fern fronds belie it’s name the ‘silver’ fern! “The undersides reflect moonlight, making them useful aids to navigating bush pathways at night.” “To Māori, the elegant shape of the fronds stood for strength, stubborn resistance, and enduring power. To Pākehā (New Zealanders of non-Māori descent), the fern symbolised their sense of attachment to their homeland.” (According to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa).
Our walk took us through a mangrove swamp on a boardwalk and we emerged eventually at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. We will explore that site at a later date, what we needed now was a cappuccino for energy to walk back to Haruru Falls, 7 miles total (11km)!