Nicks considered opinion of NZ flora and fauna.
During my daily travails I had developed an intimate and often interactive relationship with several species of the natural world and here is my totally subjective views and scoring out of ten for those with whom I have become most acquainted. I have not carried out any research, nor gathered evidence to corroborate this because I don’t have to!
As much as it is possible to show affection for a tree I love kauri. Yes it may have an air of being high and mighty (well it is high and mighty after all) but there is a vulnerability about it which pulls at the heart strings. It’s glory days have gone, ravished and decimated by early settlers desire for its quality timber. There are few stands of them left and the mighty specimens that linger on are a testimony of the majesty of the true natures giants who were growing towards their gargantuan form even before the birth of Christ. Their range is limited to just the top half of NZ and they grow nowhere else on earth. What is most devastating of all is they are now being preyed upon by the tiniest of organisms which is causing kauri dieback disease. They are slow growing once they reach the canopy so it is a real battle for these leviathans of the forest to survive. I have taken to patting every kauri along the trail to wish them all the best. There is something mystical about them and I associate them with the Ents in LOTR with there sad,slow existence and longing for the past. The last march of the Kauri would be a jaw dropping spectacle but would be too sad for words.
2. Supplejack. I am having a love hate relationship with this twisting vine which tries to ensnare your ankles in its grasp or loop itself around your backpack. However when I was told by Kala that its new growth ends are tender and tasty as indeed they are (like “asparagus of the forest”) the score is evened out by providing a healthy boost of fresh vegetables for me whilst on the trail.
I’m not the greatest fan of arachnids but appreciate they provide a very useful service to human kind in eating flies and bugs which would otherwise annoy us. In NZ the spiders keep themselves pretty much to themselves. What marks them down is the webs that they cast across the paths which is more often than not at face height and is pretty annoying to the first person who tramps that day. Now I may be doing spiders a great disservice and it may be caterpillar silk that is the real culprit in which case I turn my ire onto caterpillars.
These I like, they are the little flirts of the forest, flashing their wide tails seductively at you as you tramp by. They are little show offs but annoyingly camera shy. They do it on purpose. They will pose for you on a branch or rock and let you get your camera out only to fly off just as you are about to shoot, only to then pose again a little further away and the process is repeated.
“Hard case”. The warriors of the bird world enforcers of the bird hierarchy with them on top. Full respect. Don’t let that fluffy white collar fool you, these are well hard. I’ve seen them chase off other birds bigger than themselves and their clear loud call is one of upmost confidence on their no 1 standing.
Clown of the bird world. All dressed,up in their glistening plumage,they blunder through the forest crashing,into everything like some sort of slapstick comedy. They of work in pairs (double acts) and try and outdo each other as to who makes the most noise, they then sit and stare at you in some sort of stare you out competition. Apparently they sometimes get drunk on fermenting fruit and they,become even worse flyers. That is something I’m looking forward to seeing
8. Kiwi (bird type)
The “holy grail” of the fauna in nz. To see one in the wild would be so fantastic. It was a real treat to hear them calling each other when we were in the Dome forest.
My nemesis and sworn arch enemy. Who in their right mind would purposefully introduce this monster whose sole purpose is to maximise harm on hikers.
Currently regarded as a minor nuisance but only because I have not ventured into their strongholds and have sufficient quantity of Deet!