While researching the clues for a cache at Pohangina wetlands the other day, I stumbled across this not-so-fun fact: scientists estimate that more than 98 of percent of kahikatea forest, which grew in lowland, swampier areas, has been lost nationwide since European colonisation of New Zealand. In the Manawatu region, where wetlands once covered much of the river plains extending from Palmerston North out to the coast, more than 90 per cent of wetlands have been lost. This is a tragic legacy of European settlement, but also makes the Pohangina Wetlands all the more special. Continue reading →
Totara Reserve is situated in the Pohangina Valley on the eastern side of the Pohangina River, in the Manawatu [click here to view location]. It encompasses an area of 348 hectares, much of it podocarp forest, made up of totara, matai, rimu and kahikatea, as well as some black beech.
Its history as a reserve began in 1886, when it was gazetted under the provisions of the State Forests Act (1885) as a ‘reserve for growth & preservation of timber and for river conservation purposes’. This at a time when the area was been ‘opened up’ for settlement – settlement in the Pohangina Valley area began with Ashhurst in March 1879.
In 1932, a portion of the Reserve was designated as a Scenic Reserve under the provisions of the Scenery Preservation Act 1908, and vested in the Pohangina County Council. Continue reading →
Number 7 in the Wildbore geocache series is on No. 1 Line on the eastern side of the Pohangina Valley. It was on No. 1 Line that Charles E. Wildbore took one of his earliest surviving landscape photographs, in 1896. The photograph starkly captures the brutal transformation of the landscape by fire. A farmhouse is surrounded by the incinerated limbs and trunks of the forest trees, that until only a few years previously covered the hills and river terraces of the entire valley. While we cannot see this from the photograph, this would likely have been a landscape of oppressive silence – any birds that were able to escape the conflagration would likely have taken refuge in the nearby Ruahine foothills, while introduced birds, such as the sparrow, thrush and blackbird were yet to colonise the valley in substantial numbers.Continue reading →
The fourth cache in the now “Wildly-Famous-in-Pohangina” Wildbore geocaching series is at the top of Church Hill, near the site of the eponymous church.
By the end of the 19th century, the population of Awahou, on the eastern side of Pohangina River, had grown to a healthy number, and the community felt it was high time for a church to service the Awahou community.
St. Aidan’s Church was opened in November 1902, a modest but attractive timber church accommodating 74 people. Continue reading →
The third cache in the Wildbore geocache series is hidden near the site of this photograph, taken by Charles E. Wildbore, showing two Valley men pulling a milled log across the Te Awaoteatua Stream bridge at the bottom of Church Hill, Awahou.
The road down to the stream was realigned in the late 1960s/early 1970s, but it can still be seen in the face of the hill when looking north from the bridge (it is also visible as a contour in Google maps). Continue reading →
Those who have travelled up the eastern side of Pohangina Valley, to visit Totara Reserve, for example, will have crossed the Raumai Bridge. Those with more life experience may also the old Raumai Bridge, a bridge with a troubled past.Continue reading →
In 1977, an entire school house moved from its existing location on a country road in the shadow of the Ruahine Range in the Manawatu to the main street of Palmerston North City, nearly 30 kilometres away. To be fair, it was just a one-room school house, one of just over 40 square metres. The school was built in 1902, to take pupils within a 10-mile radius, who travelled to school by foot or pony. When it opened, it had a roll of 20, and by 1907, the number had increased to 32. Continue reading →
On our way back from a recent trip to the Ruapehu Mountain district, we stopped at Bruce Park Reserve, near Hunterville. This was a forest reserve that I had read about in David Young’s conservation history of New Zealand Our Islands, Our Selves, and I had long wanted to visit it. To help entice my husband – an avid geocacher – to stop, I declared “there is sure to be a geocache in there!” Somewhat reluctantly, he relented, but his acquiescence paid off, because this turned out to be his favourite geocache of the trip. Continue reading →
Longtime envirohistory NZ followers might remember how my husband and I stumbled upon the international phenomenon of geocaching entirely by accident (see Hidden treasure at Otaki Gorge). Geocaching involves searching for caches that have been hidden by members of the worldwide geocaching community, using GPS coordinates and other clues. Continue reading →