Otari-Wilton's Bush (27th November 2010)

Another amazing day in the coolest little city in the world! Jono and I caught up with Hew and Edmund at Caffe L’affare on College St for lunch around noon today, sitting outdoors in the sun as we chatted over our food and drinks. So nice and warm! It has been awhile since I last caught up with Hew and it was great to see her again and to know that the family is doing well since her partner Jonathan (ah yes, it does cause quite a bit of confusion when we are talking about our bfs as they have the same first names AND both also known as Jono) moved to Australia for work (Hew and Edmund will be moving over shortly to join her Jono). And Edmund’s grown a lot more since I last saw him – he was so engrossed with his handheld game that he was hiding under the table so he could shield his screen from the reflection of the sun while the adults yakked away. Cute :)

Around 2pm, we said our goodbyes and Jono and I headed out to Wilton to Otari-Wilton’s Bush for a walk. Neither of us had been to this native botanic garden and forest reserve to date and it was too nice a day NOT to be out in the sun! Besides, it’s free so why not? ;)

We started off from the main entrance and carpark on Wilton Road, walking past the Kauri Lawn (a few people were lying on the grass enjoying the sun) towards the Information Centre which is open from 8am-4pm daily. We decided to skip the Information Centre and picked up a self-guided Nature Trail brochure outside, following the trail as outlined. Our walk began with the 75-metre Canopy Walkway which soars 18 metres above the forest floor – a fully accessible tree-top experience of the area. I sure can see LOTS of trees and plants from here!

We continued on the Nature Trail into Cockayne Lawn and Brockie Rock Garden, stopping to take photos of native plants along the way. There were many interesting and strange-looking plants, mostly quite spiky…I wonder why…hmm…Native birds like the tui were chirping happily, flying around and chasing each other. It was such a laugh watching Jono trying to photography a dragonfly close-up – he had to get down on his knees and moved slowly (and quietly) so as not to frighten his photo subject! Careful babe, you don’t want to fall into the pond…

Somewhere in this reserve lies an 800-year-old rimu tree so we went in search for it, taking a detour from our Nature Trail, walking through the Circular Walk that brought us to Troup Picnic Lawn. Groups of people were gathered in the lawn, having picnics and making use of the free BBQs available. That’s so cool! We should get a group of friends to come here on a nice sunny weekend with food for the BBQ and drinks – it’ll be awesome!

“Are you sure we’re on the right path?” I asked Jono after walking another 40 minutes or so, crossing over streams running through a steep forest valley. Wearing flip-flops for the walk was not such a great idea for slippery paths (well, I wasn’t expecting such a long walk in the first place)…It turned out that we had taken a wrong turn and ended up walking the whole upper Yellow Trail, no where near our tree! Argh!! We managed to work our way back to where the Yellow Trail and Blue Trail splitted, this time, taking the Blue Trail walking past mature rimu trees through kohekohe-dominated (kohekohe = New Zealand mahogany) forest. Do not be fooled by the huge rimu trees you see along the way in the first 10-20 minutes of your walk – you will know that you’ve found THE tree when you see a large sign next to it which states ‘Rimu 800 years old’. Neither of us could put our arms around its trunk (of course, we expected that)! On average, rimu grows 25mm in diameter every 10 years thus this would make the tree approximately 2 metres in diameter, which was about right as I worked out that it would probably take 6 of me with outstretched arms to circle the trunk. HUGE! Standing there looking at the towering tree, I was at awe at how the tree could survive living eight centuries through all sorts of weather conditions, earthquakes, wars etc. and still manage to stay erect until today. Wow…

Around 4pm, we backtracked towards the car, stopping for a short lie down in the sun at Kauri Lawn before heading home to crank up the BBQ. Photos taken at Otari-Wilton's Bush here.

If you haven’t been to Otari-Wilton’s Bush, you should go check it out. Wear proper footwear though – some places were steep and slippery so I wouldn’t recommend wearing flip-flops like we did. Oh, and make sure you take with you some water and snacks, just in case you end up walking for a few hours than initially planned ;)


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