Today's temperature were pleasant with a bit of a fair wind, so it was time to head out to penetrate the impenetrable forest on the slopes above Akaroa.
Walking uphill along our Rue Grehan we passed some tiny homesteads that looked like something just out of a Beatrice Potter book ...
... but not quite, 'cause the owner had two MG convertibles, one with poultry feed and trailer hook.
A tiny, trusting and nimble Fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa) caught tiny insects around our feet.
|Its Maori name "Piiwakawaka" is as sweet as the bird.|
Halfway up to the rim of the old crater, the going got slower ...
... and the thicket got thicker.
A particularly nasty plant on the trail was the super-poisonous Tree Nettle (Urtica ferox). Its stinging hairs are 5-6mm in length and the slightest touch will knock the delicate tip off the needle hair, leaving a slanting point which drives into the skin of the unfortunate. The juice from just five stinging hairs is enough to kill a small animal.
With care we penetrated farther into the wilderness ...
... and came across our first Silver Tree-fern (Cyathea dealbata). The graphic representation of the fern leaf is a symbol commonly associated with this country both overseas and by New Zealanders themselves. Next to the kiwi bird, this fern has become the most widely recognised symbol of New Zealand; – however, it is not an official national symbol.
Finally, the forest opened up to grasslands and a magnificent view over parts of Banks Peninsula was our reward. A landscape breathing apparent tranquility, – but in the far left corner of the bay, just off Akaroa ...
... the "Majestic Princess" was injecting its 3560 passengers into the village. Certainly a good day to be up in the backcountry.
Today's turnaround point was the site of Frank Worsley's boyhood home high above Akaroa.
For those few who may not yet know about Mr. Worsley, you are recommended to read about Shackleton's fearless captain in the Antarctic waters. A true New Zealand hero, and he was born and raised right here.