A short day’s walk with a large reward.
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Elaborately, painstakingly rendered upon solid rock, early Maori rock art was scribed into sandstone, scratched under granite overhangs, and painted in red kokowai and charcoal to point to food sources, record genealogy or confer tapu upon sites that served as both shelter and canvas for the first New Zealanders. But the drawings and etchings are susceptible to gradual environmental decay and the enthusiasm of those who visit to admire them. Despite enduring for centuries, these messages from another age are gradually fading from view.
Mason Bay on the west coast of Stewart Island at about 47° south is arguably the most exposed beach in the country. Desperate westerlies regularly scream in here from the subantarctic and Southern Ocean. Little wonder that there is a vast swathe of dunes inland from the shore, and that farmers who once attempted to eke out a living here tried to stabilise the invading dunes with mar-ram grass. Now conservationists would like to see native plants replace the introduced marram...
Out for a spin in his father’s 1954 MG, Darryl Moore is one of thousands of Christchurch and Lyttelton residents who escape to the Port Hills for recreation via the Summit Road. Yet without local visionary Harry Ell’s passionate belief that the hills were an asset to be shared by all, it is unlikely the road and its associated byways would be there today.
Granite citadels stud the seaward face of the Ruggedy Mountains, in north-west Rakiura/Stewart Island, an area as grand and remote as any in the country. Almost all of New Zealand's third island is wilderness—unbroken swathes of forest or shrubland which run from summit to coast. In recognition of its unspoiled landscapes and biological uniqueness, most of the island is being preserved as a national park—a development many islanders view with mixed feelings.
Rakiura's western shoreline is the flotsam-and-jetsam coast. Here the detritus of human endeavour mingles with nature's dead—albatrosses, whales, kelp, fish. It is the dune coast, too, where a beachcomber can follow kiwi tracks through hillocks of sand or pause to watch a wolf spider transporting her young. It is a place apart.
Today, Quail Island, in Lyttelton Harbour, is popular in a quiet sort of way with those visitors who like walking gentle tracks or picnicking on sheltered beaches.
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