We had seen the giants before in British Columbia, Canada. The goliath Douglas Fir tree. They were competing for supremacy over the Radiata Pine tree and, the Southern Rata tree which is one of New Zealand’s showiest and most beautiful of native plants when in blossom.
Even the largest lily in the world contested the landscape, the Tikouka. Commonly known as the Cabbage Tree, early European settlers used the hollowed-out trunks for chimneys for their huts. On the other hand, the dead leaves of cabbage trees burn readily, giving off intense heat. People either hate them or they love them. There is no in-between.
In the thick of either forest as the trail meandered from sea level elevation and back, one expected a bear to appear. But this wasn’t Canada. This was the headwaters of the Washpen Creek which is the longest tributary of the Hororata River.
The canopy was alive in song from the Bellbird. Their notes echoed throughout the gorge which reminded us of a call to prayer in surround sound. Fantails and sometimes the infrequent flit of a Tomtit guided us on the path trodden. The same earth once used by Maori to trap and kill the giant flightless New Zealand bird, the Moa. Some species grew to three metres and once an important source of food, they were all eaten as they have been extinct for three or four hundred years.
Erosion too carved out the rock into wave breaking shape formations. Tree seeds can prosper in the slightest of soil. This was evident with shades of green disrupting brown rock cliff faces.
The Bluff lookout allows for one to view the Canterbury Plains, 250 kms in length and an average of 60 kms in width. The Rakaia River streaks across the flatlands. The Washpen Falls would contribute to the water level somehow.
That past time has long gone as well. Go see for yourself. The breath of fresh air above the giants is exhilarating.