The journey from Cape Reinga to Auckland has many, many wonderful memories for us. There are loads of good, a very few not so good and one big sad.
The good would have to be experiencing the pure nature of the region. From the exquisite coastlines, views from way up high and the bush. The New Zealand native bush is simply breath taking. Majestic trees, lush undergrowth and variety of the color green from so many different species.
We saw examples of farms being well managed with livestock in great condition. The not so good on that side was coming across a very few examples of poor farming practices with animals roaming due to ineffective fencing and a variety of classes of stock grazing together. In these cases it didn't look like NAIT (National Animal Identification Tracing) scheme had had much success as I struggled to identify any electronic tags on cattle.
Due to the nature of TA, we walk along a fair number of roads. Some are busy town/city roads, others are country and often very remote. I quite enjoy the roads as you get to see communities and different lifestyles however, I continue to be shocked at seeing how much of man's waste gets dumped along the routes. Just biffed out the car window or at times, deliberate dumping of household waste. Definitely not a great look for our beautiful country.
The big sad for me was the lack of bird life in the Northland Forests. Where are the birds?!? There was no doubt that when we saw evidence of predator control in place, we heard and saw more birds. Some areas are really benefiting from active DoC and volunteer work but goodness, seeing the sheer size and terrain of the forests, means you understand how hard it is to get possums, rats, stoats etc under control.
We did see many examples away from the forests both coastal and farmland, where areas have been fenced off for regeneration of foliage and/or protection of bird life.
We have come across individuals and community groups actively involved in addressing the problems native bush and bird life are facing. For example; Puketi Forest (near Kerikeri), Bush Bay Action in Paihia/Opua, Back Yard Kiwi at Whangarei Heads, Hilton and Melva Ward at The Riverbank, Ngunguru. It would be wonderful to have more of these groups throughout New Zealand.
With the Northland Forests being such a big part of the Northland experience my MVEFB (most valuable, entertaining and friendly bird) has goes to the Piwakawaka (Fantail). These were the birds we heard and saw the most and loved that they were happy to flit along with us for awhile.
Walking through Northland has been so enriching. Not only experiencing the beautiful land, we have met warm and generous people who we will continue to be in connect with. It is, without doubt, already been, quite 'the journey'.
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!