28-Mar-2016 -- Most of New Zealand’s native bush (i.e., forest) has disappeared since human settlement - beginning with Polynesian (Maori) settlers in the 1200’s, and accelerating with the arrival of European settlers in the 1800's. Despite this, several of New Zealand’s Degree Confluence Points - including four in the North Island - happen to be located within native bush. This particular Degree Confluence Point is a notable example, being located within the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park, several kilometers away from civilization.
I deliberately chose a public holiday (Easter Monday) to visit this point, knowing that no logging activity would be taking place on the forestry roads that provide access to the point. As with the previous visit (by Fanny Leduc et al, four years ago), I rode my mountain bike to the end of a forestry road at 37.99931°S 176.01822°E, where I stowed by mountain bike and changed into my hiking boots. Fortunately, unlike Leduc et al, I was immediately able to find the trail that runs from this point to Lake Hiwiroa, about 1.5 km away.
One of the first visitors, in the year 2000, described this trail as being ‘well formed’. 16 years later, however, it’s anything but. The trail has become quite overgrown, and in places hard to follow. It now looks almost primeval. Fortunately orange trail markers still mark the way; nonetheless, in several places, I lost the trail and had to ‘bushwhack’ via GPS until I was able to find it once again.
Eventually I reached the end of the trail at Lake Hiwiroa. This small lake is about 300 m from the Degree Confluence Point. Nearby, I saw several remarkable native Sky Blue Mushrooms (Entoloma hochstetteri). From the lake, I bushwhacked the remaining 300 m towards the Degree Confluence Point.
Normally, bushwhacking through the New Zealand bush is a pleasant, stress-free experience. There are no snakes or any other animals that can harm you. However, there are some plants that can make hiking problematic; in particular (1) gorse (a thorny invasive bush from the UK that has overrun much of New Zealand), (2) ‘bush lawyer’ (a thin native vine with serrated edges), and (3) supplejack (a thick, woody native vine). Fortunately, in this section of bush there is no gorse (except near the end of the forest road that accesses the trail), negligible 'bush lawyer', but lots of supplejack. Lots and lots and lots of supplejack - almost everywhere. Consequently, it took a long time to hike the remaining 300 m to reach the Degree Confluence Point.
The point lies in a small depression, surrounded by supplejack. Nearby, about 10-15 m up the hillside to the south, I saw a large ‘geocache’ container. Although I don’t care much for geocaching, I left a note in the geocache’s log book, noting the URL of the Degree Confluence Project. (I urge any other visitors to Degree Confluence Points with geocaches do the same - to help familiarize more people with this project.)