Walking in nature

As we become more aware of what we are doing to the planet, there are more books and studies being published about the benefits of being connected with nature. It’s ironic that the only way to make this significant to us selfish humans is to point out how it’s useful to us – in fact, our existence depends upon it.

I’ve been longing to be in native bush again. Stevenson’s Island is the closest I’ve managed so far, and parts of my morning walk today to Beacon Point.

There is a “tide mark” of driftwood from the flood. As at the beach, people seem to be drawn to building structures with it.

As you can see, there is a mix of native and exotic vegetation.

Some property owners have planted native species.

The flowering hebe is thriving.

Other owners prefer a traditional, romanticised environment.

Weeping willow with swing, swathes of lawn, and a summer house.
A welcome seat amongst poplars which give Central Otago its famous autumn colours.

Invasive plants, invasive rabbits, invasive humans and their luxury developments, invasive species of all kinds – yet the beauty of the lake remains – for now.

Beacon Point

Afterword: Some reading on the topic of connecting with nature: NZ Listener article “The Spirit of the Land” (Jan 11). The Overstory by Richard Powers (winner of 2019 Pulitzer Prize for fiction).

On the lake

We’ve sat on the balcony watching the Wanaka Cruises’ launch, Dual Image, go up the lake and back every day when we are here. So, I booked a trip to Stevenson’s Island.

Heading up the lake on a hot, breezy afternoon.

The launch is very nice with lots of places to sit and watch the familiar, and then less familiar, bays and hills go by.

Rather disturbingly, the mountains were partly obscured by smoke from the Australian bush fires.

On Stevenson’s Island we learnt that the Buff Weka had been saved from extinction on this predator-free island. They have since been widely distributed about the South Island. Although they are no longer on the island, we saw a lot of little birds including fantails, piwakawaka and a little black duck with even smaller fluffy ducklings.

We had the option of swimming or exploring the island.

The island is sub-alpine, I guess, so the vegetation is quite low kanuka mixed scrubland. There are also species of kowhai and totara which are suited to this altitude. A community project is working to restore rata to the island which was depleted by the possums and rabbits before they were eradicated.

I had to wait for a pause between wind gusts to photograph these tiny flowers.
View from the top of the island

The dozen or so people on board were from Denmark, France, UK, US and Asia. But the skipper was from Invercargill! I spent most of the trip chatting to a Canadian woman about our travels, sailing experiences, art, the climate, politics and all manner of things over glasses of wine and beer on the way back.

Bush fire effect on the sunset that evening, seen from our balcony.