Jack Skinner alone can surely boast
Of having seen the Godley Ghost;
'T'was way up in the Sardine Hut,
Where spooks and phantoms nightly strut,
For there, among the rocks and water,
He saw the famous Devil 's daughter.
For 39 years not a peninsula but an island. It took that long for someone to go in for a closer look and Captain Cook’s maps were redrawn to show its connection to the mainland. Still I’m sympathetic to that description – for something so close it has always felt far away. Not on route to any place but a destination in itself.
Mount Wainui is just a tiddler, 722 metres at its peak. But from my kitchen window in Paekakariki, beyond the backyard and the bald flat paddocks, past the hill pasture and monotonous pines, Mount Wainui appears hefty, rugged, rebellious.
At about 200 metres up, the birds suddenly triple in number. Large trees sway in the wind, and too many birds to identify swoop and dive between them. It’s one hell of a racket and we stop to watch and listen. It feels a million miles from our usual haunt, the Tararua, where a walk in the bush is often conducted in silence, and sadly seeing a single tui is a notable event.