November 8, 2015

New Zealand Bush Tour

Farmer Wayne's Tour

New Zealand is full of eye candy around every bend. The rolling hills are full of every shade of green. Reminders of past travels to Hawaii, Chile and Costa Rica are seen within its lush vegetation. While driving I scan the surrounding for scenes that speak to me to capture them. 

And so I was positioning my tripod in the perfect location to capture an old building surrounded by trees among the lush grassy hills where cows were roaming, when Wayne drives along the shoulder to tell me that this was his farm. To which I replied, "I love it!" 

Wonderfully his response was, "Would you like to take a tour." To which I excitedly responded by following his car into the gate. We then chatted a bit about his farm and how he was going to let me take a nature walk through the bush. He explained that he first needed to move the cows to a new pasture and I was welcome to follow him in my vehicle. 
So off we went past some wild sheep - very few are in New Zealand. You can tell because they are brown not white and they will run if they see you approaching. Next we drove through a few gates, up and over grassy hills to where the cattle were. 
Wayne proceeded to opened the gate and yelled, "Come On!, come on!" Drawing out the "on." The cows were slow to respond as they positioned themselves closer but not through the gate. "Cone on," he kept repeating and finally one cow stepped through and they all started to follow, mooing loudly and proudly. Most followed the first, but two stepped out of line to which Wayne quickly responded with a confident stride that even cause a bull to back up while in his ready to fight stance. It was quiet impressive. - see Facebook video posting 
Next Wayne took me to where I would start my 400m tramp. He explained what I would see and that nothing dangerous is in the New Zealand bush, no snakes. "Or grizzly bears", I added jokingly. Then he explained his idea of giving tours and wanted my opinion. I was honored and anxious to get started. 

The tramp started up the grassy field to a gate where I was to go through. Once the gate was closed behind me the path was clearly defined as it was often used as a road. Since I hadn't been in the bush before I took my time embracing the sights and sounds. The plant variety was amazing. Soon I wished more information was provided  - to know their names, did they flower?, produce fruit?, how old were they? do any of them have medicinal qualities?
While continuing to walk the sound of many birds singing their various songs filled the air. Sadly few were visible.  So now I wished to knew what the birds looked like so maybe just maybe I could match them with their melody when I spotted them. 

All of the sights and sound were wonderful but nothing prepared me for the beauty in seeing the magnificent 150 year old trees toward the end of the path. I just stood there in awe, while my eyes followed their weathered, wrinkled trunks, to the wonderful broad canopy so high in the sky. Yes I thought, a tour would be wonderful!

After spending time just absorbing the tranquil environment, the photographer in me took out the camera. 
Lots of ideas for tours continued to pour out: activities for kids - a treasure hunt perhaps? Can those vines hanging from the trees really be used as Tarzan ropes? What about making a project with plant leaves? And let's not forget a tree hugging photo as long as everyone understands the importance of respecting the elder giants. 
In conclusion, I think a tour of the bush for tourists and local school age children would be a wonderful idea. I believe that educating along with fun adventure is always a welcome option. Maybe you will have a chance to visit Wayne too someday. 

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