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The Peak of Walks

Today I had my bike booked in for a service.  That meant I had to walk.  The best walks in Hawkes Bay are on Te Mata Peak.  [That are easily accessible from Hastings]

So  I walked.  A most splendid walk too.  Let me show you.

The first thing I come across on my walk was a grove of gum trees!  Aussies!!!  I think gum trees will soon be "recognised"  as New Zealand Natives, there are so many of them here.

The path winds through some lovely secluded trees.  These are all less then ten years old. They seem to have been here forever.

At the gateway a pepper tree stands watchman.  Although less than ten years ols. the gnarly trunk of this tree suggests two hundres years.

Gum trees have flowers.  This means they feed bees!  Gums have their uses.

Cordylline Australis.  Cabbage trees.  They have become quite popular now that they have survived attack by a deadly virus that threatened to wipe them out.  Native to NZ

They are, when young, tall and thin trees. 

Found on [in] the footpath.  Fossil shells.  These rocks were once under the sea.

Less than 100m from the last fotograf.  Two large pines stand as sentinels on either side of the path.  No tree in Hawkes Bay is older than 150 years if it came from some other country.  These pines are exotic.  Natives of Western United States.

This tree, a Totara, is a native of New Zealand and is common in parts of Hawkes Bay that have not been stripped of  native vegetation.  It is related to pines.

This foto show the needle-like leaves of the Totara.  The wood is a favorite of woodcarvers and farmers.  It is very durable when used as a fence post.

This pant is an import from England.  It is called ragwort.  It was a terrible weed on our farm when I was a child.  We spent hours diggint them out or cutting them down.  The seeds, if unripe, would mature and spread on the cut down or ripped out plant.  Each single plant had upwards of a million seeds.!!!  It spread like wild fire and was disliked by sheep and cattle beasts alike.

At least this NOXIOUS weed gives you something useful.  In February it produces thousands of juicy blackberries.  You just have to wear heavy leggings and gloves to get them.  It is also from England and spreads very rapidly.  It responds to mowing by disappearing.

A view over to the hills that are grazed as farmland.  They are still part of the parkland but are grazed to bring the park income.  Very pretty with morning mist [most unusual at this time of year] covering the tops of the hills.

If I wrote children's books, then this is the sort of spot I would select as the home of the fairies.

There is a person in this picture.   Some of the walks in the park travel over this hill.

This forest was planted in 1945, so this year it is seventy years old.  The plants are all native to New Zealand.

Three native littlies.  The first is the broad leaved plant
 that we used to call the bushman's letter paper, because you can write on the backside of the leaf which is almost white.  It is also known as the "Bushman's Loo-paper". The next plant is edible and has the same flavor as peppery spinach.  The third is a fern with rather broad tendrils on the leaves.

A remarkable hobbit-like path leading to a stile.  Hobbits are often seen here wandering around looking for rings and hoping to meet Gandalf!!!!!

A large redwood.  It is astonishing how quickly trees grow when they are imported into New Zealand.

The first Linden Tree I saw was in North Germany.  I did not think there were any in NZ.  This foto is proof positive that they do grow here.

A macrocarpa tree was one of my favorite climbing trees when I was growing up.  I loved the nuts for using with a shanghai.  This was an implement for firing anything small and round over large distances. Here are lots of Macrocarpa Nuts.

The distinctive foliage of the macrocarpa tree.  Not a veined leaf, nor quite a needle.  They were place in the cypress family for a long time, but now some botanist wants to change that.  They are not true cypresses either.

Something I have known from childhood experience....  underneath their gree foliage, Macrocarpa are a mess of sharp little twigs.  Almost impossible to clear your way through.  Hence only those Macrocarpa that you often climb are nice to climb.

The trunk was hard to find underneath the dense foliage.  The wood is very nice.  It is known colloquially as "Cow-cockies Kauri".  Kauri is a highly prized furniture wood.  Farmers had lots of Macrocarpa growing and used it in their houses and furniture.  It looked like Kauri.

Limestone cliffs. The track winds along their base.

The top of this hill used to be grazed.  Now it is planted in natives.

Looking up the valley towards the top of Te Mata Peak.  It looks very attractive in its green.  Any more dry and it will all be really brown.

Looking up to the top of the track.

Almost at the top.

From the top we see a road, cars and a restaurant!

This Macrocarpa is huge.  It can't exceed 150 years in age, for that is the length of European settlement in Hawkes Bay.  The Macrocarpa is a European imprt from USA.

The top of Te Mata Peak is still shrouded in cloud.  It is very pleasant for walking.  This foto is looking back on our track from the road we saw in the last picture.  

What a wonderful place for a restaurant.  The view from the reataurant is worth the journey.  This picture only shows the vegetation surrounding the back of the restaurant.  

Ti-tree [or tea tree] is found commonly in the Coromandel near where I grew up.  It had to be planted on Te Mata peak as it had all gone.  It is most unprepossesing but is amazing in its fragrance, the honey bees collect from it, and its ability to burn with great heat.

This slope used to be grazing land with short grass on it.  Its is much nicer now with plantings of native and non-native shrubs and trees.  My car can be seen in the distance.

A friendly volunteer who helped plant all the beautiful plants and shrubs on the slope I had just descended.

The hill I have just descended.  In ten years it will be magnificent.

This very beautful bark from a gum tree just is begging for a chance ot be seen.  However it is much more beautiful in real life.  If you get the chance come and visit Hawkes Bay to see it yourself.  

Cheers, Chris the Pipemaker

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