Crimson Tide

The pohutukawa's image problem

Labelled in San Francisco as a ‘curse’ where its ‘lazy’ roots have infiltrated sewer systems and buckled sidewalks, the pohutukawa, like many Kiwis on their O.E., can behave a little badly.

A Cruel Trick

Hunting possums

An invader and a hated pest, the possum is still, for better but mostly for worse, a feature of the bush. Ravaging our trees and native birds, and terrifying trampers who step out into the dark for a midnight dunny visit.

Millionaire’s Salad

On not eating the nikau palm

Wellington lost one of its famous sons this year, with, architect, Sir Ian Athfield bidding farewell at the age of 74. Eulogies spoke of his buildings changing the face of Wellington, but I suspect that for most locals it’s not a whole building that they’d associate with Athfield, just a specific part: the structural-support pillars of the city library.

The Big Daddy

Snorkelling at Goat Island Marine Reserve

The rental guy held his arms wide. ‘A real big daddy’ he said and pointed toward the western end of the island. I had promised my brother-in-law that his first snorkelling adventure in New Zealand would be spectacular. A diver’s paradise I said, clear water and right near the beach, fish eating right of your hand.

Dodging the New Zealand Death

Learning not to cross a river

We scrambled down from the track and found ourselves on the banks of a river. We’d crossed a few rivers before, but this was a first. It looked almost waist high, and was flowing swiftly enough to make us think twice about what we were doing. None of us had been tramping long. We looked at it from different points, trying to make observations but lacking any real insight.

Big Tree Hugging

Hunting for an Akatarawa antique

Take the only tree that's left
And stuff it up the hole in your culture

Leonard Cohen, ‘The Future’

True North

Why everyone should own a compass

My first compass came courtesy of Santa, sometime in the late 1980’s. It was a flat plastic kind with ruler marks on the base, a liquid filled bezel and a strange rotating hand with a mind of it’s own. It also had a magnifying lens built in and I remember being more enthused by inspecting the texture of the carpet in close up and spinning the dial than by anything the needle did.

Finding a Teacher

Learning from the fieldguide

I have been a tramper for years now, marching off into the bush with friends to enjoy the scenery and their company when I can. I‘ve learnt to cross rivers and, more importantly, to tell when not to cross. I’ve walked in both islands, on beaches, in bush and on mountain tops, and I’ve been out in all seasons. And yet, ask me what I’ve seen and I’d say trees, shrubs and birds.

All Hail the Manu King

The art of the bomb

First there is the rush of weightlessness as you fall, then the shock of plunging into cold water, followed by a kind of calm satisfaction as you float up afterwards. Whether it’s diving off a cliff into a river swimming hole, or leaping from a wharf into the ocean, jumping from heights is a favourite summer pastime for many, myself included.

Beyond the Badlands

Exploring Aorangi Forest Park

It was here that Bill Ralston had his head chopped off, with the Putangirua Pinnacles featuring in not one but two of Peter Jackson’s films: Braindead and a Lord of the Rings. In each they were stand ins for terrifying sites, the home of an infected rat-monkey and the lair of a ghost army respectively.

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