Vehicles from Auckland arrived at Pureora Village cabins at various intervals between
6 and 8pm. Some took the opportunity to visit the Pouakani totara (the largest in NZ) nearby. We enjoyed
a fish and chip + salad meal before settling in and gathering for a briefing at 9pm at which Phillip
shared how Pureora got its name, and how ABTC was associated with Stephen King and the campaign to save
the forest in the early 1980s. The cabins were clean and comfortable, equipped with cooking facilities,
crockery and cutlery. The ablution facilities were shared.
We all awoke to
vibrant birdsong under a cloudy sky, with intervals of sunshine. After breakfast we were able to depart
at 8.30am. for the nearby Forest Tower. This is a 12-metre-high wooden structure, at the top of which
one can into the canopy of trees once occupied by the 1978 protestors. Phillip led a reflection on the
theme of "Trees in Trouble", highlighting the serious deforestation around the world and in NZ, concluding
with the group joining in a responsive "Prayer for the Trees".
After this, some decided that they
would like to visit the geographical centre of the North Island, which is marked by a small marble plinth.
This took longer than expected because the access road was blocked by a fallen tree and the through-road-loop
had had a bridge washout, forcing us to retrace our steps.
We paused briefly at the Kakaho Camping
Area for lunch before proceeding south to the Waihaha Bridge carpark on SH32. Eventually, we began our
tramp at 1.30pm with Murray at the front and Phillip at the rear. The tramp was uneventful, with a few
light showers, and we had all reached Waihaha Hut by 5.30pm. We cooked dinner in two groups of seven,
some taking the opportunity to learn how to use the stoves. A post-dinner walk to the large trees was
aborted after encountering a difficult stream crossing, but Phillip shared some "Insights from trees"
and a "Tree Story from the Bible" (Jothamís parable in Judges 7:8-15) back at the hut. Nine bunked down
in a bed or on the floor of the hut; five slept in tents pitched in the surrounding clearing. It rained
heavily most of the night, but everyone managed to keep dry.
We were fortunate
that most of the rain seemed to have passed over by the time we got up. The sun even peeped out at times.
Breakfast ensued, followed by the pack-up. Tents, of course, were rather sodden!
"The Story of the Three Trees" (one of which became a manger, another a boat, and another the beams of
a cross, fulfilling their aspirations in a way they did not anticipate).
We set off for the vehicles
at 8.30am, with just a few light showers along the way. The walk out was a little quicker than going
in, with a bit more downhill and some spectacular views of rare-specie (tanekaha/toatoa) forest, rushing
gorges, towering ignimbrite cliffs and quiet pools reflecting the beautiful yellow flowers of broom.
By noon all of us were back at the vehicles, and most made their way to Whakamaru for a café lunch
before heading north via various routes to Auckland.