Talbot Forest Trekking and a “Sh*t Happens” Day

Today is one of those days. Yep, you even get them on an epic gap year in New Zealand doing 365 Days: 365 Activities. When the first thing goes wrong, you think, hey it’s no big deal… But then after the second second thing then the third, topped with a fourth… Jeez, you just start to think that the universe has it out for you just for today!

Cancelled plans and a grumpy Frenchman

That first thing that “goes wrong” but isn’t such a big deal, is that our canyoning trip in Geraldine is cancelled. Sure, it would have been fun, but we can find an alternative activity for day 206 on the road – no problem. Although it doesn’t sound quite as exciting as canyoning, the only thing we can think to organise at last minute is to do a short walk later in the afternoon. Speaking of organisation, Robin has been getting himself in a serious grump trying to organise next week, when plans are falling through. Although Robin can appear to be an outspoken angry Frenchman, he is never really grumpy or unhappy. Something weird is happening… Oh well, what can you do? We just continue our day as normal…

Talbot Forest: our saviour of the day

Thanks to a recommendation from Paulette and Craig, the hosts at the Rawhiti Backpackers, we head to the outskirts of Geraldine to Talbot Forest.

Taking advantage of all the tracks in the Talbot Forest Taking advantage of all the tracks in the Talbot Forest
A tiny fantail sits and judges us A tiny fantail sits and judges us
Some fallen heroes of the forest at least make a good climbing frame... Some fallen heroes of the forest at least make a good climbing frame...
More birds judging us More birds judging us

Conversations with a piwakawaka

It’s only a five minute drive to the forest, which has a network of trails all linking together at some stage. The first track we take is the Kaikahikatea Track, named after the tallest trees found in this mixed native forest. It’s a short steep climb uphill with the forest floor carpeted with fallen leaves (in summer?!). We stop at an information panel to read about the early Maori settlers of the forest, when a young fantail (piwakawaka in Maori) sits on a tree branch right in front of us and checks us out. What’s with all these inquisitive birds we’ve been spotting lately? The latest of which was only two days ago in the Orari Gorge Reserve.

Wildlife galore in Talbot Forest

The fantail is not the only wildlife we see in this forest. We can hear the clumsy wings flapping of the oversized native pigeon, the wood pigeon, flying overhead and the melodic calls of the bellbird. But their either too high or too quick to spot. Another information sign indicates that Talbot Forest is home to New Zealand’s only native land mammal, a species of bat. Unsurprisingly, in the late afternoon with the sun blazing, we don’t see one.

The sun bursting through the trees does, however, reveal butterflies, moths, bees and blue dragonflies. No wonder we can hear so many birds in Talbot Forest.

Ancient trees and army trees

The Totara Track leads us into part of the forest holding the totara trees around 800 years old. These giants of the forest used to be used by the Maori to make their canoes (waka). Their height and girth really do stand out among the forest!

We join up with the Reservoir Track, that we guess is named after a huge reservoir just casually sitting in the middle of the forest. After passing the reservoir, we head deeper down the Matai Track. Matai is perhaps the weirdest tree of them all, with bark that looks like army cameo used for camouflage.

Spiraling vines

This part of the forest also looks like it is being taken over by vines and roots. Every now and then, the walking track disappears under a tree root. Vines grow on anything they can find whether it’s a tree or each other, creating the perfect spiral around branches. It looks too artificial to believe this is nature!

The network of walks only lasting about 10 minutes each, finally loops back around to where we parked our campervan. Yes, although we could have walked to Talbot Forest from the hostel in 20 minutes, we decided to drive. Oh, how we wished we had walked…

Some trees look a little out of place here Some trees look a little out of place here
Forest wanderers Forest wanderers
Great... Great...

A supermarket visit gone wrong

On the way back to Rawhiti Backpackers, we decide to stop at the supermarket to get a couple of supplies. As we park up alongside the supermarket, we hear a bang and our campervan stops. We’ve clearly hit something.

“Reverse! Reverse!” Laura shouts.

We can’t tell what has happened until we get out of the van. A series of low-hanging beams are keeping a solid awning up alongside the supermarket. One of those beams has created the perfect beam dent right in the corner of our campervan right where we sleep. Sh*t!

What does this mean for the rest of our trip?

Although the insurance has covered it and there are a few panelbeaters in Christchurch we can take it to in a few days time, we don’t know how long it’s going to take to fix it. Gah, this is so annoying! But, it could be worse… At least we still have jandals to wear on our feet…

And just to top it off…

As Robin comes back down from a ladder he has been using to take photos of the dent in the van, he brakes his jandals. Noooooooooo!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was our “sh*t happens” day.

Tomorrow, we’ll pick ourselves back up, hope it doesn’t rain into our campervan, and find something to do on the the drive to Methven. See you then!

Laura and Robin

Shhh, you'll wake UP the baby fern
Shhh, you'll wake UP the baby fern Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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