06 November, 2010
A Landscape Devoid of Green
What else to do but lay back in the sun and take in the view and warmth of the sun. That was all well and good, but we had a chair lift to catch to avert a long walk down. As backpackers we generally travelled on a budget and often cooked and slept by the road side, but having spent the last few months fruit picking we deserved a little extravagance. The conditions couldn’t have been better. It was a perfectly still crystal clear evening so we booked ourselves onto a scenic flight over the volcanoes. We circled steaming vents, azure creator lakes and marvelled at the blackened cone of Mt Ngauruhoe casting its dark shadow across the
. North Island
The following morning was less than perfect as we set out on foot for a closer look at the creator lakes. After a good hike into a brisk wind we were spared brief few minutes view down onto the lake rimed by yellow and orange bacteria before the cloud base descended and the rain set in. I enjoy hiking in the rain especially in mountainous terrain as it makes for dramatic landscapes, enriches the colours and fuels the waterfall. With the peaks and distant slopes concealed by veils of mist you’re free to admire the smaller things. The higher exposed slopes were not devoid of plant life but were certainly devoid of green, perhaps an adaptation to high levels of light.
On the higher scree plains hummocks of a grey moss/lichen offered shelter and anchorage for the hardiest of the alpine species to gain a foothold. Huddled together, barely poking their heads above their hosts, these tough little plants create gardens in miniature. Bellow the golden, coral like Hebe cupressoides, ruby red Parahebe hookeriana, emerald Olearia nummulariifolia and the blue, pink and red tinged Dracophyllum recurvum nestle together, and black lichens splatter the rocks.