I have just had a quite amazing day on Motutapu Island, which is a short ferry ride from Auckland.
Not only was the island – and Mullet Bay particularly – a very, very special place, but it was made easier by the lovely people at the Motutapu Restoration Trust.
The Trust does volunteer work parties on conservation zones where they are trying to restore the forests to their natural state, and a trust member had written to me to invite me along in exchange for a tour of Mullet Bay.
Not really much of a deal in their favour – I am one of the least botanically-minded people with little clue of natural environment matters, and probably contributed little to the country’s ecological heritage in my morning’s labours; while I gained a huge amount in terms of finding out about the island’s fascinating history and of course seeing the stunning Mullet Bay.
If you ever happen to be in the area, I can well recommend giving up a day to support the trust’s work. From reading up on New Zealand, it’s very clear that the country takes its natural environment very seriously and regards it as an integral part of its economy and even national identity, and it was great to witness the cameraderie, pride and enthusiasm of the people who help keep New Zealand beautiful.
(Cynics, of course, would point out that probably the only reason New Zealanders put so much focus on natural heritage is because as such a young country it’s the only sort of heritage they have.)
In other news, I have been sorting out more of my plans for the next few days. They start with a couple of nights in Napier, a city in the east of North Island famous for its Art Deco architecture.
Whether it is also famous for Art Garfunkel architecture, I am not sure.
But with my first three days in NZ having been exhausting and exhilarating, I am looking forward to taking it easy.