Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Free Treasure

One of the things about living in NZ is the ubiquitous green and yellow Department of Conservation markers you see around, particularly in rural areas, and how easy it is to ignore them, or think you'll come back to them some other time. Try not to; you might miss out on some cool stuff.

Near Marokopa there are three such signs, and on one of our days there we decided to check them out, knowing little or nothing about what they described. "We" being my wife and the old friend brothers we were in Marokopa with (seen here in best adventuring/don't-take-my-photo poses), brother's parents minding the kids for the afernoon:
The landscape around this part of the country is very limestone-y and prone to interesting erosion, as this appallingly lit photograph typifies. I love the view from the backyard of this house:
Our first stop was at the intriguingly named Natural Bridge at Maungapohue. For a few minutes you walk down an average little river canyon, like so:
Then suddenly you walk around a corner and are confronted with this, and involuntarily say "Wow" or words to that effect:
If you are wondering about scale, there is a person at the bottom of this shot. It's cathedralistic.

As to how it was formed, it's basically a cave with a collapsed roof. If you want to know more, click on this pic and read the info board :) :
And just a few steps out the other side and you wouldn't know it was there at all.
Also around the cave are littered eroded rock formations, including fun rocks for offspring to climb through, and intrepid explorers to conquer (note aforementioned DOC marker).

There are also rocks that look like they escaped from a Jim Henson movie and are about to wake up and start talking to you.
Moving on from the collapsed cave, a few minutes along the road at Piripri there is an intact one. This photographs about as well as you'd expect a large cave with only ambient lighting to photograph. On a hot and humid summer day descending into the cool gloom is incredibly refreshing.

And lastly a few minutes back along the road to Marokopa, and the last stop, are the magnificent Marokopa falls:
All of these things are pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but I love that these things are just freely available to explore and discover at your leisure. I knew nothing about these three things until we stumbled across them, and (taxes notwithstanding), no-one charged us an entry fee to go and look at them, or made us take a tour. We could just take it in on our own terms and in our own time.

Including family selfies when we took the children to see the sights on our way to our second camping destination the next day:
 I am smiling, it's just hard to concentrate on taking the photo as well :).

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