This is the final account of my perambulations around Rotorua, escorted by my host, local artist Geoffrey Cox. I will probably making some naming errors, so do correct me if you find any (politely, please!).
One day we took a short “tramp” around Lake Okataina. It’s completely surrounded by native forest, though introduced tammar wallabies are said to inhabit the area. The lake is quite secluded but we came across one couple who had kayaked to a small beach:
I have come to love tree ferns, though it didn’t take much prodding. They’re gorgeous, and though they’re found in New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, they’ll always remind me of New Zealand.
Another fungus that eerily resembled (and felt like) human ears. I don’t know any of these species; perhaps a reader does.
This fungus was growing by a cut-down tree beside Lake Rotorua–in town:
A big piece of moss-covered obsidian we found on the trail. This volcanic glass is very hard and takes a sharp edge; it was much prized by the Maori for their tools and weapons.
Below is Lake Tarawera, one of the several lakes near Rotorua. Here’s a bit about it from Wikipedia; be sure to read about the now-vanished Pink and White Terraces:
The lake was substantially affected by the eruption of Mount Tarawera on 10 June 1886. The eruption killed over 150 people, and buried the Māori village of Te Wairoa on the southwest shore of the lake.
Also destroyed were the famed Pink and White Terraces.
Three adjacent volcanoes whose eruption has greatly altered the area around Rotorua over the centuries. I believe their names are Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngarahoe, but I may be wrong.
Below is an unusual specimen of the native lancewood (Pseudopanax crassifolius). I’ve written about it before as a possible vestigial remnant of moa browsing, but I’ll give the bit from Wikipedia:
The juvenile form, which lasts for between 15 and 20 years, is very easily recognized. The leaves are stiff and leathery with a prominent central rib, about 1 cm wide and up to 1 m long with irregular teeth, all growing downwards from a central stem. The young trunk has characteristic vertical swollen ridges. As the tree gets older the stem begins to branch producing a bushy top, and the leaves become wider and shorter, losing their teeth. It is only when the tree is mature that it adopts a typical tree shape.
Usually the lancewood sheds all its juvenile, moa-adapted foliage when it gets bigger, but this big tree sprouted a single twig at the bottom that had the juvenile foliage, which is tough and serrated:
The crown of the same tree:
A few local fowl. This is the Australasian moorhen, or pukeko (Porphyrio melanotus), also found in New Guinea, Australia, and Indonesia. It’s a handsome bird, and pretty common.
Black swans (Cygnus atratus) are also found in Australia, where they were probably native, and were likely brought to New Zealand in the 19th century. This is a nesting pair by a lake.
The Little Shag, or Little Pied Cormorant, also called kawaupaka (Microcarbo melanoleucos), is an Australasian bird.
Now an endemic species. The New Zealand grebe, or dabchick, bears the Maori name of weweia and the Latin binomial of Poliocephalus rufopectus. It went extinct on the South Island but can still be seen, with difficulty, on the North Island, as they’re shy, uncommon, and dive deep and swim far underwater. They’re hard to spot as they also swim low in the water. This is the best I could do, but I’ve put someone else’s photo below:
The grebe (from New Zealand Birds Online):
Finally, about 15 km from Rotorua there are hundreds of these mounds scattered throughout the flat fields, often topped with a boulder or rocks. Geoffrey had no idea how they were formed (not of human origin!), so any solution would be appreciated.
Black swans in a beautiful spring-fed river near Rotorua:
A reflection of tree ferns in the spring:
Finally, the obligatory self-portrait—this on the screen display of a security camera in a Rotorua bank: