Images of beautiful pine forests after beautiful pine forest fill my every waking and sleeping thought. Thanks to the history lesson that the Akuhaia-Brown Maori family taught me, I have learned that many parcels of land on the pacific east coast have been forested with pine trees, a profitable export at the moment. Not even the conservation minded locals mind the pine trees being cut down because pine is not a native species to NZ. From what I have been told, the locals feel the same way about their pine trees as they do about possums. There are just too bloody many of them. Possums, the large tear drop shaped rodent are responsible for nibbling up thousands of native plants every day and of causing a general nuisance. Possums were brought to NZ by the Australians and from what I have been told about the long standing sportsmanlike rivalry between the two countries, possums are just another good ironic joke that the Aussies (Australians) have played on the Kiwis (New Zealanders). And that leads me back to where I started and why I am boring you about pine trees and plants. A good ironic joke…
Daily since leaving the Auckland airport on my bicycle about 900 km or 600 miles ago, I have been passed by many a car and truck. Now that I have ventured into the densely forested east coast, the trucks are getting bigger and more fully loaded. They are loaded up with huge freshly cute pine logs being shipped for export. Double and even triple length commercial trucks cruise by me with a great gust. Most of the trucks smell really nice like a freshly mopped kitchen floor. The logging trucks and their drivers seem to be the only New Zealanders on the roads hurrying with great speed towards a deadline.
While cycling on the hilly coastal road, the logging trucks and their cousins the wood chipper trucks create a special kind of suction which is a little hard to describe. Just picture an industrial strength Hoover vacuum verses an ant and you will get the right idea. It’s a good thing I did some praying at Saint Mary’s, the Maori church back in Tikitiki. The first dozen or so trucks on any given day are really pretty entertaining, some of the drivers honk and wave as they blow by. It must be hard to drive that fast with their arm out the window. And, each morning while peddling on sleepy legs, I am grateful to the logging trucks for they vibrate me awake far faster than a cup of strong coffee. By the 37th truck of the day, I am feeling a little less empowered and a little more like little ant about to go on a tornado ride.
At the end of a busy day in the life of an ant, a bicycle and a logging truck, I can think of no better place to sleep then in a densely populated old growth pine forest. My bike slips quite perfectly under the old wooden fence and off I go deep into the most majestic peaceful pine forest I have ever experienced.
This particular platoon of old veteran pine trees has survived the battle of export log production. Every night the veteran soldier trees stand guard, silent and proud of all their years of dedicated service and accomplishment. And similar to a soldier on duty in a war zone, the cool shade of the forest glimmers with the aura of wisdom and responsibility. Free camping deep in the beautiful veteran pine forest is not exactly within the “code/rules” but according to some neither is cutting down all the trees.