Roaring Stag. Flora and fauna appreciation

Illona’s memories

I thought a flora and fauna appreciation trip would be a good first easy-medium trip to lead: I could take books and slow down to explain things to people.  It would be a different type of trip to my usual medium fit tramp, but one that would keep my pace at a more easy medium one.  I think I might have scared some people in the van when I mentioned I had got to Roaring Stag in two and a bit hours on night!  I am keen to lead other easy medium trips as it is a fantastic way to meet new and exciting people, rather than the usual medium fit crowd.  When I mentioned my latest horror of undertaking the Oxfam trail walk in March I found out Alissa and Rory are both veterans (so I was able to get all sorts of tips). If you fancy donating please go to search for Cafe Cruisers and donate for the good cause of four club members: myself, Katy Glenie, Kate Cushing and Megan Banks, all walking 100km in less than 36hrs!  Eek.


I thought it might be nice to get everyone to write 5 lines about their experiences of the weekend. Here are the responses. I like the themes!


Rebecca’s Hayter version of adventures to the ‘Roaring Stag’…

Our tramp lead us into the forest of the familiar but largely unknown. We discovered which shrub is mean and which is kind, which hardy tree ferns have scales and which have hairs and there’s those hen and chicken ferns too! The rata trees that ‘cuddle’ whilst all twisted up, dropping out of the canopy hoping to touch the ground and that they are not the only species hanging on for dear life in the forest! If you loose your way, the rimu has a map of contours displayed on its trunk for you to discover.


After a great dinner, as the sunlight fell, the sky became littered with stars and our night adventures began. An eel, some glow worms, spiders in every direction, weta, shrimp and more. The return back to the hut we were set to discover other creatures of the night….of the snoring variety that is.


After a great trip learning all this and so much more, we hear a squeaky tricycle in the forest…or a Tom Tit welcoming us to the road end and the end of our tramp.



Jo Boyle’s memories

Just a few minutes into the tramp, Illona had the group stroking trees. Which, it turns out, is a great way to spot the difference between Kanuka (K for ‘kind’, nice and soft green bits if you stroke it) and Manuka (M for ‘mean’ – as it is a bit prickly when you stroke it).


We spotted the awesome map-like contours on rimu trees trunks and saw some impressive rata trees bracing themselves on host trees.


We got to see fresh water crayfish in what amounted to a big puddle! The budget Colby cheese we’d left there earlier was snubbed by the crayfish. I think the Bulgarian feta we had for dinner may have been more to their taste.


On Saturday night, we (watched Illona) set a peanut butter trap (in a plastic tube with ink and paper) and by Sunday morning we had a collection of weta and mice foot prints. There was actually quite a lot of fauna action in the long drop, with the largest ever spider seen in NZ and a cave weta, both of which seemed to be thriving on a pure methane diet.


One important thing I learned over the weekend is that you can spot flora, even when you’re too tired to lift your head up, by scanning the ground for the leaves and branches that have fallen; once you know what you’re looking for!!


Awesome weekend. Illona is so good sharing her extensive knowledge!


Rory MacLellan’s memories

Excellent trip, knowledge of the leader on flora and fauna was very educating but not so over the top as to continually make me feel stupid which tends to happen very easily.
The trip has really increased my confidence in recognizing the different trees native to NZ that are found in most of the forest and national parks.
The night walk was very informative especially looking closely at the glow worms and having the biology of the worms explained.
Learning how to find insects at night time with binoculars and a powerful headlamp was excellent and something that I will take with me for future tramping trips.
Learned lots of different bird sounds and what bird they were associated with even if the birds could not be seen as they tended to fly away as soon we stopped to look up.
There was much discussion over the 2 days on what type of cheese is best used for baiting crayfish, it seems that budget edam/colby are not desirable baits for crayfish. Perhaps there is a Ph D project here for someone to look at the correlation between cheeses that mice and crayfish prefer?????? Or maybe they just prefer peanut butter, at least mice do.




Debbie Buck’s memories

On the flat we caressed ‘mean manuka’ and ‘kind kanuka’ trees.


After walking a bit further Illona introduced us to hard and soft tree ferns and various beech varieties. I particularly liked the handy hint for remembering red beech: the leaves have saw-blade shaped serrations on their perimeter and a saw cut results in red blood.


As we tramped up the steepest part of the track, Illona made plenty of opportunities for us to catch our breath by sharing her tree knowledge. We looked at adult rimu, aka the topo map tree. And were enticed further up the hill by the promise of stroking cute baby rimu.


Further on there was the very sculptural rata, aka the hugging tree. By the time we reached the junction with the Herepai hut turn-off, I felt semi arbor-literate and pleasantly surprised that the uphill was done.

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