It was cold, starting to rain, and a pretty big hill, so after the cafe stop, we opted to hike the Haast Pass rather than ride it. It was our first view of the New Zealand bush. They call it a rainforest. More like a fern forest – can’t believe all the different types of ferns we saw while we were out there. I love the fern families…little clusters of new fern fronds coming up in the center of old, large ones – still rolled up at the tops. They look like little people standing in a cluster talking to one other, with the spirals at the top being the heads. These unfurled fern leaves are where the Koru symbol for “new beginnings” comes from…it’s a motif you see in a lot of the jade and carved bone jewelry here. The hike starts along a creek, that got wider and deeper as we climbed through the forest. Water was so clear and blue and you could see to bottom of depths from way up high on the hills the banked it. About a third of the way through the hike you had to cross a swing bridge over it. There was another one of those little exclamation point signs saying, “Maximum 5 People.” I crossed last, making sure there were only two people ahead of me – just for safe measure.
It was raining, but the cover was so think, it didn’t really get through. When we left the van, we were still so cold from Boundary Creek and Makarora, I had several layers on, but as we walked, I had to keep peeling them off. Especially the raincoat, which doesn’t breathe. Felt like I had a bustle on by the time I had everything tied around my waist. Bike clothes, hiking boots, and fleece and flourescent yellow raincoat around my waist … must have been quite an attractive look. I’m sure the princess wouldn’t have been seen with me!
Jenny had to drive the van to the top, but came tramping down the hill and met us about halfway. She seems to know an awful lot about the local flora and fauna. There were lots of little waterfalls everywhere, bursting through the ferns and beech trees. Heard lots of new bird sounds. It was my first time hearing the bird that sounds like a pinball machine. Have no idea what it is yet. During the week there was another one that sounded like R2D2 from Star Wars. I suppose it’s the other way around … just wondering if the creators of those things had the birds in mind when they created the electronic sounds or if it’s just happenstance (or if I’m just nuts…). We came across some fuschia, but it was miniature compared to what I’m used to seeing in Ireland or the US.
There was an opening at the highest point where you could see out to the mountains in several directions and back out over the water. I had Malcolm take a picture of me (took the bustle off), but those Brits are different. Instead of saying cheese, apparently you say, “sausages.” But I don’t eat meat!!! Was saying that back when he snapped the picture, so you guys don’t get that one. It was wild though – standing in the rainforest, looking at snow capped peaks, now sweating from being so warm. Anyway – it was a good hike, about 2.5 miles in part of Mt. Aspiring National Park – can’t remember exactly which trail it was. Made me realize I should do more of that at home with all the places we have.