The forest was planted about a hundred years ago as a test lot for commercial forestry. The idea was to plant a bunch of different species of tree and see which grew best for harvesting and export. It turns out the trees which would normally take forty years to mature will do so in only twenty because of the rich volcanic soil. One of the test species was the redwood. They weren’t the best commercial trees for harvesting, but as a unique forest, it became more valuable as a tourist attraction. Today the forest is home to six walking trails ranging from two to thirty-four kilometers in length. Perhaps even more famous are the hundreds of kilometers of world-class mountain bike trails. Since we don’t have bikes (yet), we went for a hike.
We chose the Pohuturoa Track, which is a 7.5 km (4.7 mile) loop. The weather was perfect, just shy of hot in the sunshine, and refreshingly cool in the shade. We started in the redwood forest, then climbed up onto the adjacent hills overlooking the city and lake below. As you’ll see in the pictures, some of the redwoods are truly massive. The four of us tried to hold hands and wrap our arms around one, but barely made it over halfway. Many are well over two hundred feet in height.
We’ve been to the Redwoods a couple of times previously, and it’s become our tradition to build a fairy house at the base of a tree. We try to find them again when we visit the next time. I think this tradition came to us from the Palmbos family, good friends from our Michigan days.
Cohen somehow managed to get a cicada onto his walking stick that hitchhiked for about a mile before finally falling off. Cohen was very proud.
We passed a shallow pond completely covered in tiny green leaves. The covering was so thick that it looks as if you could walk straight out onto it. When we stirred up the water, something began moving just beneath the surface, creating eerie ripples and splashes that you can see on the video below. If anyone knows what this is, please let us know in the comments. (We might need to load it on FB, not sure we can load it here. Stay tuned...) We weren’t sure if it was fish or insects or eels or tiny Loch Ness creatures.
The boys did really well on the walk; we finished in about three hours, including a stop for lunch and fairy house construction. I’d say surprisingly well, but in truth they have always been strong hikers for their age, I think. They make me optimistic that we can take on some even bigger challenges once we’re all a little more fit.
*Disclaimer: Yes, we are all wearing sun huts. While this is acceptable and even cute on children and women, it is undeniably dorky on a grown man. However, I cite New Zealand’s world leading rates of melanoma due to the intense UV rays as justification for the somewhat ridiculous hat. I’m going to wear it proud and let everyone else deal with it. So there.