Vacation Continued (Sunday the 19th)

The day started extra early due to the end of daylight savings time. Since the office of the campgroud would not open for another few hours, we decided to go and take a walk in the Mahia bush reserve to kill some time. It was quite a walk, lots of down in the first half is a warning for what would come in the second half. Clearly this was ideal climate for Nikau Palms (the southernmost palm tree species). I think Nikau Palms are cool. They are also really slow growing, a 2-meter high one will be 30-50 years old.

While these Nikau’s were 100+ years old, we certainly noticed that there were no large Rimu or Rata trees left. That is true of many “brush remnants” around the country, all the commercially valuable trees were taken out 100 years ago, so the only old trees are ones nobody cared about. Have to wait another 300+ years before we get big Rimu in them again.

After checking out of the campground we cruised up to Gisborne for lunch, and a visit to the i-site. There we got the recomendation of going around East Cape clockwise (I had planned to opposite), as the views are better. So we set off north along SH2 up the gorge towards Opotiki.

We did take a 35 km detour to the Tarndale Slip. Yes, we went to see a big erosive landslide, in a weird fit of geekiness. It is apparently famous amoung geologists for being the largest of its type. Started 100 years ago, and it will not be stopped until the large hill/small mountain is all eaten away. It grows a few more meters every year. The poster child for why it is important to keep steep hillls forested. NZ has huge problesm with erosion in the central North Island hill country, something that needs to be addressed now, especiallly with climate change. Just in the 3 years we have been here there have been multiple storms that caused thousands of slips all over the bare hillsides. You can see them when driving across the country. Not good.

In the first picture I am walking downn the road to the slip face. Notice the cracks in the road? That is where the slip is eating into it, and taking it away. A few years before the road carried on past the top of the slip face. No longer. In fact as you can see in the thrid photo, the slip is starting to eat in around the “end” of the road where you park your car. Soon they will have to back up the end another 100 meters.

We did meet and chat with a local science teacher who had come to see the slip, and was considering bringing his high school students up asa field trip. In the background you can see a whole stand of trees that is in the slow prcess of sliding down the mountain. The scale of the slip really does not come across in photos.

Afterwards it was the simple drive up the gorge to Opotiki. Gorge driving is always fun, what with windy roads and cliffs and all. With all the evidence of slips and wash outs, Tam asked “I wonder if that ever happens when a car is underneath?” The week after we drove the road, it did! Some fellow was swept over the cliff and dropped 20m into the river by a landslide! Hit the river bottom with such force the engine fell out! But due to seat belts and air bags (and other motorists who came to his resuce), he survived! So remember to wear your seatbelt, you never know when a mountain might attack!

We spent the night in a caravan park by the ocean. Very nice listening to the ocean waves. The caravan was… special. A 1950’s vintage model that was now “permenant.” Cooking dinner on the hot plate was a fun challenge. More on that later.

2 thoughts on “Vacation Continued (Sunday the 19th)

  1. sean says:

    I say “look, isn’t that wierd, Steve and Tam going on a big detour to look at a slip while on holiday. That’s the sort of odd thing your parents do”.

    Susan replies: “Yeah, I’ve been there. Haven’t you?” Turns out her parents took her there on a family holiday a couple of decades ago.

    Now I’m wondering if you’re all wierd or if it’s just me…

  2. Megan Cook says:


    I’d like to contact the photographer of the great Tarndale Slip photo to ask for permission to reproduce it in a book on New Zealand forestry, to illustrate a section on the erosion that resulted from clearing forests). The book, ‘Keeping New Zealand Green’, is written by Elizabeth Orr, and will be published by Steele Roberts.

    On the subject of geeky places people go to while on holiday, my siblings and I were taken by my father to view the inside of a hydro electric plant. I loved it, especially the turbines, and was left with an enduring wish to build my own small hydro plant (quite common on NZ farms in late 19/early 20th centuries).


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