The Lord of the Forest

Thursday is our last full day in New Zealand. On Friday, our flight’s scheduled for departure at 6 PM.

• • •

We decide to go out with a bang by visiting Tane Mahuta, a kauri tree so large, it’s the center of mythological stories. I love me some mythology! It goes like this:

The sky father, Ranginui, and the earth mother, Papatuanuku, are parted by Tanu Mahuta. After his grand prescence separated the sky from the earth, we were left with the world we know of today. Tane clothes his mother with vegetation, and gives a place for the birds of the sky to rest.

The sky, like all fathers, resides above our heads.

Also known as “Lord of the Forest,” Tane Mahuta is otherwordly, breathtaking. Before we left, I read about how its presence felt omniscient; but until I stood there, I had no idea how omniscience felt. Estimated between 1500 and 2500 years old, the tree is pumped up as potentially before Jesus Christ. Or whatever other prophet one might pluck from that time.

• • •

Another interesting factoid we found during our trek: kauri trees have fragile roots that, if traversed too much, will cause them  to die. Because of this, the Lord of the Forest is surrounded by planks for safe arrival and departure.

I contemplate fragility. How something this big could come crumbling down.

• • •

After visiting the Lord of the Forest, we headed to Wairere Boulders for “rock formations.” My ex wanted to skip, but I reminded him that this was the one thing he seemed excited about.

There aren’t many rocks, but a brown-water stream catches my eye. It runs through Wairere’s tropical forest. Bridges cross over it and into thickets of trees, where signs have to direct where to walk.

The road isn’t noticeable enough to lead us alone. We bend through tiny caverns and into the sun, where a bird splays a tail like an Asian fan. This is our spirit guide.

I watch the bird dance. It hops from one tree trunk to the next, wiggling its rump, seeking attention. I try to record it, but it’s so fast, I can’t catch it.

In that momentary glimpse, I realize I’ve witnessed an intricate courtship.

• • •

We spend nearly three hours ducking around vegetation, giant roots, and climbing along fallen logs. At one point, a canopy of leaves hangs above, like a Roman arch giving way to a paradise.

When we finally make it out, it feels like a lucky happenstance. “We’re alive!” I cry.

The roads wind and turn so much, it really felt like we were dead.

Happily, hopelessly dead in Northland.

Next Chapter.

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