Sometimes, when there's been lots of rain, the New Zealand bush is unbelievably green, from the ferns and tiny cushioning ground covers to the tall beech trees. Our trip up the Wharfedale track was greener than green...
The Head Gardener - On Track!
What can I write about? I asked Stephen, as we trudged along the gently meandering Wharfedale track, wiggling in and out of gullies, making our way ever so gently up the valley. 'The track goes on for ever, and it's all the same'.
Hikers in the Bush
'You can talk about the plants?' he suggested helpfully, as we whooshed around another wiggle in the track, through a trickling watercourse, and up round the other side. He's right - this is exactly what I should be doing. Now where's my definitive book of New Zealand native shrubs and plants? Oops...
Shades of Green
Everywhere there were shades of green. The track stayed completely in the beech forest, winding gently upwards to a saddle which was still in the bush. Every so often there'd be a view of the next green bush-clad ridge.
So much beautiful green - we've had a lot of summer rain, and the forest plants were looking very happy. The beech trees were in their two-tone phase, with lighter green new leaves at the tips of the branches.
Names of Ferns
'Everything is really green - look at the ferns.' I seized the moment. Stephen the Wise could tell me the proper names, and I could even pinch a few adjectives. I asked how he would describe them. 'Very green' was the reply. Hmm - no help here!
New Leaves on the Beech Trees
We strode out for two and a half green hours until we reached the saddle. What a beautiful spot - we could now peep down into a different valley, and see different ridges. The track, of course just went wiggling on, and on, and on...
Huts and Shelters
There were shelters and huts further on the Wharfedale track that we could have aimed for. But I wasn't interested in meeting and taking photographs of such structures, and time was running out. So we rested for a quick lunch on the saddle, and then turned back for home (that is, the car park).
Gently down, gently down, on and on gently down. To counteract any possible hint of boredom I decided to count and classify the water crossings we made - gullies only. There were five larger streams (noisy, requiring sloshing through with wet boots or hopping on stepping stones). There were seven minor gully streams, which the long legged could have leapt across - but I'm a more careful bush plodder.
Bridging the Gap
And towards the end of the track there were four stout bridges, these over slightly more difficult fern-clad gullies.
I passed some beautiful plants - juvenile Lancewoods, Astelias, native Pepper trees. But the bush is so difficult to photograph, and the textures are really quite subtle. I've tried, but often there isn’t enough natural light.
And I still haven't learnt the proper names of the beautiful New Zealand natives. It's a foliage plant paradise. Everything just looks so beautifully green...
Manuka in Flower
Informative Footnote -
There is a network of tracks in this part of the Oxford Forest, the Wharfedale Track being only one. This track was formed to open up the Lees Valley, and was used as a stock route in the 1890s. The dominant forest cover is black beech, and the lower farmland areas are thickly covered with Manuka.