Very Big Trees (Part One) – Dean Forest Camp (with Georgie)

“On a Mish” #402 Very Big Trees (Part One). Dean Forest Camp (with Georgie). Dean Forest Conservation Area. 19.4.2024. Captain Cook must have been very excited to report back about his adventures in Aotearoa. Along with the bountiful postural land, there were forests full of very big trees. The word ‘were’ is the best way to describe the sad case today, as most of the timber giants were chopped down in order for humanity to grow. Luckily a few monster trees managed to stay hidden, and to see these beasts makes you wish there were more of these marvels still around…

An injury can be a way of finding out who are in the upper tier of your friendship tower. While my social circle shrank, some legendary people proved their worth with messages, calls, and catch ups. My post-injury depression meant I didn’t contact many people due to feeling so down. Climbing mountains and going on hard hikes was such a big part of me, and with that gone I felt like a lot of my worth had been taken away. One person I couldn’t shake off though is someone who shares not only my name, but also my passion for the outdoors, my mate Mark Houliston.

It is funny how sometimes life can go from very little too many things happening at the same time. My return south hadn’t gone exactly how I had planned, and it had left me feeling a little bit isolated in a place I really want to dig my roots into. Te Anau is so special, and many times lately I have been left feeling a bit down knowing I can’t click my fingers and return to my old life. Just like so often in the recent past, just when it feels like you’re going to hit the ground at the bottom of the cliff your friends and whanau step up and brighten your dreary day.

After a marvellous March around the Mavora Lakes area with my family I barely had time to catch my breath before I was off on another mish with my mate Mark (Houli). The plan was to head to a spot he knew of Near Lake Hauroko, and the most important fact was that Georgie could join us. I love living in the super scenic south, however there are far less dog friendly places than up in Canterbury. Houli had not only a sorted out a camping spot for both me and my dog, but this place also had the bonus of a hike around some very big Totara trees.

Down by the Waiau River

The forecast for our foray wasn’t the best, but supposedly it was going to clear, and the idea of camping was too tempting to pass up. I hadn’t slept in a tent for a long time, and I used to use my tent at least once a week. The lack of wilderness is like the lack of oxygen at high altitude, and the longer I go without it the worse I get.

A big reason I had had such a dry spell was the fact that I used to go on missions with my best mate Ernie, and my motivation for the outdoors disappeared when my dog died. Getting my new (not replacement) dog Georgie has put a smile on my face which is much bigger than what is seen on the outside. I once again had a comfort animal, and she’s the greatest!

The Dean Forest Conservation Area is in a rather isolated spot near Lake Hauroko (which is also in a very out-of-the-way location). I’m guessing this is one of the reasons why a couple of the biggest and oldest Totara weren’t cut down. I had been here a long time ago when I lived in Tuatapere, so I knew the little walkway around ‘Hall’s Totara’ was very good. However, back then I didn’t have a dog, and also back then I had the ability to hike to any camping spot I wanted. With grey skies above, we began our quest south to a place where very big trees have lived for hundreds of years happily…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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