Friday, May 22, 2009

A Walk on the Wild Side

Image Courtesy Dart River Jet Safaris
The ancient beech forests of the Dart/Rees Track are believed to be one of the best examples worldwide, of a sub-temperate ecology dating back to prehistoric times. Certainly, when I stand in these dark, remote, moss-covered forests I have a very real sense of what the world may have been like 80 million years ago and I always keep an eye open for approaching dinosaurs. (A figment of my over-active imagination of course but I always think that if a dinosaur is going to appear anywhere, it would be somewhere like this). But if you venture into these parts with the team from Dart River Jet Safaris (owned by Ngai Tahu Tourism), you’ll be introduced to another side of this remarkable place – to the old hunting traditions of early Maori and to the myriad uses they found for many of the forest trees and plants. Take the Horopito for instance - also known as the New Zealand pepper tree – which Maori used to treat stomach ache and diarrhoea. Its leaves are known to stimulate the circulation and because of their antiseptic properties, Maori used them for skin complaints….. first steeping them in water, or chewing them beforehand. Funnily enough, it is now trendy for many New Zealand restaurants to use horopito as a natural spice marinade, or rub for assorted meat cuts. The juvenile stems of Horoeka, or Lancewood – a tree of multiple forms during its lifespan - were used to make spears; and lancewood leaves were pounded to make a brush of sorts that was used in rock painting.

1 comment:

  1. There is something surreal about hiking (tramping) in New Zealand. I have hiked in many different countries but the New Zealand Forest is something very different. The closest I have seen is British Columbia, but I was too busy watching for bears !!!


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