The Flax (Harakeke) & The Drunken Tui

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-8-45-20-amMost days when we walk along the river there is always a fluttering of tui around the flax plants.  Watching the tui balance itself just quick enough to dart from frond to frond is quite impressive.  They are stunning little birds with a unique look to them, the plant too is quite striking and looks very closely related to the kangaroo paw plant found throughout Australia.

I’ve not yet managed to capture the lovely birds to highlight here but this is a link to some information and beautiful images of the tui.

Apparently the pollen inside the flax can sometimes ferment, which causes the birds to fly around in a drunken manner.

This morning I took a stroll up our property to check out the bees.  I heard a noise behind me so turned.  A tui was collecting food from a flax plant right in our driveway!  I’d not even noticed that this was a flax plant – when we moved in, it was a huge flower of white that I was positive that was all that lived in that spot.  Whilst the bird appeared sober, I do believe if it were later in the day he would have found it a respectable time to indulge his love for alcohol.

The flax is quite an iconic part of Māori New Zealand culture and trade as it has many important uses.  It is prominently featured in Māori clothing, baskets and was even used as a trade item as it was quite a formidable product for making rope.

Karri Karri & Tingle Forests

We’ve just returned from a romantic, nature filled getaway.  Mike surprised me this past weekend with a getaway in Karri Valley.  The space is breathtaking… Emu and kangaroo greet you in an open field just as you enter the estate.  Further up the road the left opens to reveal a rather massive lake (full of rainbow trout!).  If you stay in a suite, you can even fish from your balcony…

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.07.00 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.09.50 PM  Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.09.37 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.09.31 PM    Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.59 PM    Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.29 PMI am so sorry but this mushroom absolutely kills me…apologies to those of you may find it offensive.Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.22 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.15 PM

I could have just posted entirely about the fungi that covered the woods…there must have been about 15+ species that we encountered on one hike alone.  Some of the species were small and dainty while others were absolutely enormous.Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.06 PM  Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.07.43 PM  Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.07.27 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.07.20 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.07.10 PM

We checked in, and Mike informed me he also made dinner reservations.  There was a fantastic meal of kangaroo steak (Mikes choice) with roasted vegetables, and duck confit on a citrus salad (my choice) for us that evening.  Our cabin was three bedrooms (excessive but the only one available as there was a wedding booked in for the weekend), and came complete with a kitchen, large deck, washing machine, living room and working wooden fireplace.  I could go on and on about the tranquility and the soft drizzle of rain on the rooftop…the crackling fire, and the peace we found in this space.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.06.52 PMThe cabins were so far apart you hardly noticed there were any other visitors in the area.  No radio, no phone, no tv, no internet.  We talked, drank wine, napped…and did plenty of hiking.  Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.06.39 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.44 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.51 PMFear of heights: first non attempt.  I pretended to climb the tree in the photo above, only to watch Mike in a total panic from the base of the tree.  It was pouring down rain, and he did it anyway.  This tree is probably about 13 stories high, it is also over 400 years old.  Fire fighters used to climb to the top and scout the region and telephone with coordinates.  One of the requirements for being one of the volunteers to climb these trees was…being sober.  The image below it, is what Mike saw from the top.Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.09.22 PMMikes second attempt to get me to face my fears, was in the Tingle forests 1.5 hours from the Karri Karri woods…I basically ran through this tree top walk…the swaying feeling, and the wind put me off.  Here you can see Mike eating my dust!Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.06.15 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.06.07 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.05.58 PMThis region is spectacular, and for those who do manage to venture that far south…it certainly is hard to return back to the city after absorbing the natural beauty of the majestic Karri Karri and Tingle forests.

Alt-J – Hunger of The Pine 

This song played for us on the way home…it sounds quite special.