The extra bits...(Under construction).

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Land of the Long White Cloud II....

     Ahhh there you are my friend, welcome to my second installment upon our adventures in Aotearoa or New Zealand as the land is more commonly know to most folk. Now to confuse matters I have decided not to follow the 'timeline'  of our adventures but just randomly pick and choose parts of them as the mood takes me. This excerpt takes us to South island and a thought provoking visit to the glacier of Franz Joseph....

       The drive alongside the Southern Alps of Aotearoa along route 6 that follows the west coast of the isle is simply breathtaking with each turn of the road (and there were plenty of turns along it!) opening up jaw dropping vistas that are beyond my humble words to describe.....








     Whilst booking our visit to these fair isles we included a helicopter trip to the top of Franz Joseph glacier thinking what a, forgive the pun, cool idea it would be. Standing in front of the whirling rotors of what seemed a very small and unsubstantial helicopter we both could feel the nerves and rising tension building up within us. I genuinely thought that I'd be clinging on to my beloved George with my fear of heights reducing me a dithering lump of jelly, but surprisingly I enjoyed every second of the trip, even dropping over a hundred feet in the matter of a couple of seconds due to turbulence, what a blast. Unfortunately my better half did not fare so well and as I snapped happily away with my camera I noticed she had gone a very, very pale shade of white, I guess on the next helicopter trip I'll be on my own! As the helicopter flew towards the glacier the power of it could be seen beneath us as its retreat has left the scarred and barren landscape clear for all to appreciate, making me think perhaps this is how Tolkien had envisaged the land of Moria...





     Once we landed on top of the glacier a feeling of disbelief fell upon us, here we were on top of a hugely powerful force of nature, on the other side of the world and drinking in sights that neither of us could ever imagined in our wildest dreams, and I can tell you that I have some pretty wild dreams....ahem enough of that....







     The return was much smoother and I think George was more than relieved about being back on terra firma. By this time she was still very white and a tad shaky so we decided to head off for a hot drink and some goodly, simple fare from one of the roadside cafes in the town. Feeling better we headed out of town and hiked to the face of the glacier to gain a different perspective of it. The route took us through temperate rain forest but become more and more desolate as we neared the glacier...










     After basking in the beautiful yet imposing magnitude of the glacier and its surrounding mountains we turned about and headed back down the trail. As I looked down the route, now in reverse, a thought crossed my usually barren mind....



      At this point the post becomes hijacked in a slightly tangential way by a theme that seems to be running through mine, and several other blogs at the moment about nature and our, as a species, effect upon it. I think many of us are coming to the conclusion that if the human race continues to travel down the road of being a parasite upon this planet instead of finding ways to live harmony within nature then ultimately we will be the architects of our own extinction. But what would happen if this did happen? would nature be able to repair the harm already done? is nature going to be able to repair or recolonise an area if left to its own devices without human interference? In effect, I guess, I'm pondering rewilding again but this time with the absence of human intervention. So what would happen if we just gave a baron, flora and fauna scoured area, the time and space nature needed to repair it and what pattern, if any, would it follow?

     Franz Joseph Glacier starts high up in the 'Southern Alps', as the spine of mountains that divide South island are known, high above the tree line of the temperate rainforest that is such a wonderful and naturally rich feature of the area. 








      But, for whatever the reasons, the glacier has retreated rapidly over the last few decades leaving at first sight a desolate and bare landscape devoid of flora and fauna which seems all the more unwelcoming to flora and fauna as you approach closer to the glacier.....






     But returning from the face of the glacier to walk back down the 'barren' valley subtle changes can be noticed and you begin to realise that as areas of bare rock are exposed by the retreating glacier basic plant life in the forms of mosses and lichens start to colonise and take a foothold upon the exposed rock surfaces....







     .....and as the distance, and hence the time that the land has been left uncovered by the retreating glacier increases, then more developed plants begin to colonise the valley floor and its sides....




     .....and even further away from the glacier time has allowed the first shrub like plants and ferns to take root and establish themselves...




     Further down the trail meaning even more time has elapsed from being the covering of tons of ice the plants begin to spread out further, along with invertebrates, insects and higher animals that have been attracted by the growing carpet of fauna...







     Within a blink of the eye in earth's time scale, but perhaps eons in our own, the glacial scarred boulders start to disappear into what is now becoming a young forest.



 
      As the process continues it begins to accelerate as the increase in flora and fauna produces, by the basic cycle of living, dying and decaying a thick bed of 'soil' enabling trees to take root and so attracting even more wildlife to the area and before long the intricate and intertwined systems of a temperate rain forest hide the scars left by the movement of thousand upon thousand tons of ice and the suspension of grinding rocks and stones the glacier once used to carve out this deep u shaped valley....











      So the answer to whether or nature can repair herself and if rewilding could work is an undoubted yes, and if the truth be told a lot more effectively without man's aid if she is given enough time and the necessary space required.

     I hope you enjoyed this latest leg of our journey through Aotearoa and I do apologise for the slightly soap box part of it.Til the next time take damn good care of yourselfs and those most dear to you,

John whose glass is half full at the moment.

18 comments:

  1. Beautiful place, beautiful photos!

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    1. It is indeed a beautiful place Mr. Smythe and the photographs do it no justice whatsoever.

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  2. You only have to compare bits of long forgotten old minor roads to see how quickly nature can break through. Lovely photo's.

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    1. Aye you're right there DC then again the main roads around the village here look as if they've had glacial action on them of late, just waiting for the plant life to start sprouting now ;-)

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  3. Breathtaking views and photographs John You certainly know how to capture the beauty that you see and feel. .always a pleasure reading about your adventures.
    Thank you for sharing. .take care
    Bron** X

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    1. Thank you Bron, you are far too kind though m'dear x

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  4. One does not simply fly into Mordor!!!!!

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    1. Now that most definitely raised a smile this morning PP

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  5. Love this post John -nice to see some more photos (how many more have you got left to edit?!) Interesting to hear your thoughts on re-wilding too. It made me think of the time me and Will went to Rangitoto, a volcanic island, which had been completely covered by black lava 'fields' but slowly started growing algae then plants and now nearly the whole island is thriving with greenery! Looking forward to the next post :)

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    1. Why thank you Lucy, means a lot coming from you m'dear. We have well over a thousand pictures yet to go through yikes!!
      It is surprising and at the same time wonderful how nature heals herself isn't it :-)

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  6. A wonderful and thought provoking post with some stunning photos. What a beautiful country - the scenery is just out of this world :) I really enjoyed this - you've made my day :)

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    1. Thank you Robin high praise indeed, thank you so much.

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  7. Love all your pictures - very fine photography. A bit jealous of your 'copter ride. Must have been a thrilling experience. Nature would recover quite a lot were we not to interfere. Living in the states, everyone wants a manicured lawn etc. We have just had the good fortune of moving back to my hometown in a real house within the village walls. Will see how far I can go with nature being a bit wild and less manicure. I'm sure there are going to be zoning issues, but will see. Ranee (USA) Minnesota

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    1. Thank you for dropping by Ranee.....Manicured lawns a desert of green m'thinks, I have dug our small lawn up in my small budding wildlife garden and replaced it with 2 small ponds, a small wildlife pond and a circular fish pond which have already attracted Damsel and Dragonflies, a host of other insect life and are great spot to watch the local birds bath. Ours is a tiny plot but I'm cramming with as much beneficial to wildlife planting as I can and hoping it becomes a little oasis in suburbia.
      Can I ask what are 'zoning issues'?

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    2. Local zoning rules and regulations for town folk with regard to "weeds" allowed to grow without a proper mowing or trees that are left to grow "wild" that may in fact, need a good trimming. All the good things that keep the neighbors all happy and content. A bit of a copy cat setting is more acceptable than too much free thinking. The town has changed though, so there may be more freedom than was "allowed" many years back. We shall see. I have seen all of your efforts and the pleasant results. I too look to make an oasis in our suburbia. Love your blog and really enjoy all of your pictures. You really do nice work. Ranee

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  8. Splendid pictures as always John. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  9. We need to be aware of what we are pillaging from within the earth. This to me is the biggest threat. We are destabilising everything. When you see the wonders of the landscape above it makes me ashamed of what we have all become 'Greedy'
    Hope the knees held up to all that walking and you have come back refreshed.

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  10. Hello - these are beautiful photos of a stunning landscape with some interesting thoughts. I agree that the human race is destroying the very planet that is our home. It's incredible really - what a species we are! How nature would flourish without us!

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Feel free to comment but no blaspheming now...