New Zealand: Day 7 Soil considerations and Kauri rainforest

Another dasilhouettey in Kauri forest, but today it was more of a rainforest rather than temperate woods. It seemed damper and mossier. There were a number of Kauri with fused trunks. Stan said there were more active measures being taken against possums. We saw trees set upon by fungi and slowly decomposing logs. There were more buttressed roots and some of the group saw an eel in the small stream that flowed along the trail for a bit. It was the first place we might have seen a weta, but we did not.

The imported pines acidify the soil. The tannins leached from Kauri tree leaves turn the streams red. The soil here is not rich: all of its nutrients are stored in the plants above ground. The park we were hiking had some of the most beautiful language I've ever seen.


from the long lost Gondwana small unsocial islands drifted like loose stars on a clear and frigid night

the tall trees of Tane towered amongst the babble of strange birds and a universe unique alone with flax and shrubs and the botany of solitude

the creep of epochs

carried them away

a land of small things amongst the giants a wealth of medicines and foods, woods and fuel for fires and flaxes for whare and weaving feathers from birds for adorning, taming of the hearts of palms and ponga – gardens for planting and harvest

in the white wings of sail boats whalers and sealers and sailors and saviours with farming with God and guns and liquor and lawyers migrants and merchants with money breaking the land

silhouettes of saw blades adze heads and axes the curved turn of horned beasts

the glow of burning issues smouldering still


DAY 7 Photo set


New Zealand was underwater for much of the Cenozoic. When it breached, it slowly collected birds and insects—creatures light enough to float on the water or wind from the mainland. By the time “we” got to the “present,” 1600 native plants, insects, and birds were competing against nearly a quarter of a million invasives. Including humans. The soil is choked by foreign mycelium, the prairie is studded with tansy, ginger, and wild carrots, the forests, pine, and the mountains are full of goats and possums which drive out the ground parrots and kiwis. Those first pioneers simply wanted to be reminded of home. I planted a rose bush in my front yard in New Orleans after missing Portland for a year—there was no malice of forthought.

The purple agapanthus filling the ditches, the brightly colored rosella parrots screeching through the understory, the sweet blackberries bobbing on the ends of brambles—these were things we wanted. There has to be some compassion for those people so far from home, terrified at the unfamiliar outlines across the landscape and loud nighttime chorus of never-before heard birds. And the accidents, the fungi, the pasture weeds, whose seed cases were tucked into the alfalfa and corn seed lots, the dandelions and house sparrows that get into everything—it is hard to be judgmental when you haven't emptied the lint from your own coat pockets in weeks. What do you carry with you?


There is currently a local having a bad trip outside my cabin. He is screaming “Fuck the World!” over and over while kicking and throwing things. His friends make soothing sounds in his wake. His voice disappears over a hill, they follow in a car, slowly. This also happens.