Showing posts with label Hanmer Springs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hanmer Springs. Show all posts

Friday, 9 August 2019

Short Walk: Forest Journey, Hanmer Forest Park, July 2019

Sashay through Hanmer Forest Park on the Forest Journey

As part of our visit to Hanmer Forest Park Karen and I also went for a walk in the forest plantation along Jollies Pass Road. This plantation consists of groves of various species of trees the NZFS trialed for planting in New Zealand.

Macrocarpa trees, Hanmer Forest Park

There is a wide variety of tree types from Willow, Adlers, Cypress, Macrocarpa, Firs and Spruce, the Larch!, the Pine!, the Giant Redwood Tree!, the Sequoia!...

"...Ohhhhh....I'm a lumber jack and I'm o.k. I sleep all night and I work all day...
I cut down trees,
I eat my lunch, 
I go to the lavatreeeee,
On Wednesdays I go shoppin,
And have buttered scones for teaaaaaa....."

Me and my best girlie....and the choir of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

Errrrr pardon me....just about every type of commercial forestry tree is included, they are all mature so it makes for a quiet, fragrant and intensely green experience. 

Hanmer Forest Park....walking past a grove of Cypress trees on the Forest Journey

We were walking on the Forest Journey, the longest of the myriad tracks through the forest, it is about 1.5 to 2 hours for the full track.

Hanmer Forest Park:the main entrance on Jollies Pass Road

There are a number of car-parks outside the old Ranger HQ, there are also toilets and a water point at this location. There are also several large maps of the surrounding forest showing the various short, day and multi-day tramps you can do in the area.

Hanmer Forest Park: the map outside the old Rangers HQ

Map: Hanmer forest Park.....tracks in the local area

This used to be the HQ for the forest back when this was a part of the New Zealand Forestry Service (NZFS), it has now been converted into the local scout building. There was a large group of MTB riders loading up their bikes when we arrived back after walking through the forest. 

The old NZFS Rangers HQ directly opposite the entrance to Hanmer forest Park

The forest was turned over to Ngai Tahu as a part of their historic Waitangi Treaty Settlement and is being utilised as a working forest. They have a new forest HQ a bit further down Jollies Pass Road.

Going for a walk in the woods...

We started out from the entrance on Jollies Pass road, this is the main entrance for all of the walking and MTB tracks in this part of the forest. It is directly opposite the old Rangers HQ and is well signposted so there is little chance of getting lost. 

Entrance to Hanmer Forest Park, Jollies Pass Road

Hanmer Forest Park: heading along he first track section

There are a number of interpretive panels through the forest covering points of interest, types of trees planted here, historical notes etc. The plantation used to be a working forestry but it is now covenanted as a historic place so this part of the forest cannot be felled without some serious legal battles.

There are a series of interpretive panels scattered through Hanmer Forest Park

The tracks are wide and clear in Hanmer Forest Park

There is a Forest Art Collection in this part of the park, various object d'arte carved from wood and located through the forest. They are all really good I just wish I had the kind of wood working skills exhibited by the artists.

My woodworking skills are notoriously bad I made a table at High School that was a total disaster and have kept it these past 30 odd years to encourage me to avoid working in wood.

Have a look at the bottom of this post for more on these carvings...

There are a number of forest art object scattered through Hanmer forest Park

Another of the forest object d'arte, Bald Eagle, Hanmer forest Park

Generally the track was dry and easy to walk over but because of the heavy rain and snow recently sections were a bit muddy. The whole track could do with a good dump of gravel to make it more weather resistant but that is unlikely now it has passed into Matariki Forestry hands.

Some sections of track are muddy in Hanmer forest Park

Junction of Forest Amble and Forest Walk tracks, Hanmer forest Park

There are many different types of trees in the forest all planted back in the early 1900's to see which type best suited New Zealand conditions. For a long time it looked like Douglas Fir was the best but in the end they settled on Pinus Radiata as it meet all the criteria of wood volume, timber hardness, growth period and climatic resistance. 

Most exotic plantations in New Zealand are now planted with Pinus Radiata trees, the majority of which is turned into paper pulp or export logs.

Interpretive panel laying out tree types, Hanmer forest Park

There are a couple of small bridges on the track they cross over a series of drainage ditches through the forest, I think the natural tendency of this land would be to the swampy but the trees have limited this now.

Hanmer Forest Park: there are some small bridges to cross

Hanmer Forest Park: Forest Journey track branches off Forest Walk

One of the old forestry roads now MTB tracks, Hanmer forest Park

The tracks use both dedicated walker only tracks and some of the many forestry roads that criss-cross the plantation. There were very few people out and about on this cold day but we did see about 4-5 people running, biking and walking through the forest.

Start of the Forest Journey Track, Hanmer forest Park

Karen on the Forest Journey Track, Hanmer Forest Park

There are a few clearings in the forest, they were once areas for log storage, vehicle storage or housed workers buildings. A couple of them have been turned into picnic areas (marked on maps) with tables and seats and some of the others have panels setting out what used to reside there.

Hanmer Forest Park: a clearing, previously location of a workers smoko shelter

Plenty of signage in Hanmer forest Park

Forest Journey, Hanmer Forest Park using an old road as part of the track

Here is a photo of the first of the picnic areas we encountered, it would be a nice spot to stop for lunch during the summer, the sand flies are not too bad in this exotic forest. You can see the interpretive panels in the near distance, they tell you that this was once a store yard for timber and had a forestry workers office. 

That is a Sequoia tree growing near those signs, it is over 20 years since it was planted which shows you how slowly those trees grow...

First of two rest areas, Hanmer Forest Park: note the panels and Sequoia Tree

Just past the picnic area you skirt what was obviously once a bog, it is low laying and swampy looking but with no visible water. I would imagine it fills when they get a good down pour in the area. 

The track skirts forest bog, Hanmer forest Park

Tunnel effect from fully mature pines, Hanmer Forest Park

One of the interesting areas you pass through is a grove of Macrocarpa being grown as a commercial species. Most Kiwis will be used to stunted and twisted Macrocarpa hedges along farm boundaries...these trees are not like that. They are about 30 odd meters tall and ruler straight as they have cut all the lower branches off as they matured.  

The Forest Journey goes into a Macrocarpa grove

Macrocarpa Trees line a  forest road, Hanmer Forest Park

They were planted like everything else as a trial some time in 1929 but were never commercially planted as they are very slow growing trees. The wood is dense so it is excellent for firewood, framing and furniture but not so good for paper manufacture which is what most timber in New Zealand is used for. 

Macrocarpa panel on Forest Journey, Hanmer forest Park

Old and huge Macrocarpa trees, Hanmer Forest Park

I believe Macrocarpa is a major forestry type in both Australia and the United States, they are certainly striking looking trees when grown in this fashion. 

Taking a break on the Forest Journey track

We stopped at the second picnic area along the track just past the Macrocarpa grove, this is approximately 2/3's of the way around the Forest Journey. There are a couple of picnic tables in a very nice grove of mixed Cypress trees planted some time in the 1970's.

Second rest area in Hanmer Forest Park

Karen brought a flask of tea with her so we stopped for a 20 minute repast of tea, cheese and crackers and muesli bars. It was most pleasant sitting among the swaying trees talking and enjoying a tasty brew....nice!!!

A sumptuous feast for morning tea, Hanmer forest Park

If you have read some of the other trip reports on this blog you will know that muesli bars are not my thing (I abhor desiccated coconut....yuck!!!) but these ones were o.k. I am not a convert but I would be willing to try some more flavors in the future...

Jon even eats a muesli bar.....ercckkkk!!!

The sign says these Cypress were planted in the mid 1970's after this area had the previous trees cleared and the land was re-rehabilitated. There were versions from Europe, North America, North Africa and Asia planted here as a centennial project for the 100th anniversary of Hanmer Forest. 

This area is all Cypress Trees, Forest Journey, Hanmer Forest Park

They are very striking trees but very slow growing so it will be another 50 odd years before they start to dominate the surrounding area. They are water loving and the needles are acidic so tend to kill of any under-story plants that start to take root. 

In a Cypress grove on the Forest Journey Track, Hanmer Forest Park

There is obviously an orienteering course through the forest as we saw a number of those coded makers located in the tree branches, on trees, marker posts and around significant terrain features. 

An orienteering marker in a Cypress tree, Hanmer Forest Park

These are Spanish Cypress trees, Hanmer Forest Park

There is a bench seat just past the second picnic area if the tables are full, there were still remnants of snow here from the weather we had on the first night. It would probably have been quite nice in the forest with the snow around but Karen left her jacket at home so we had to wait for a fine weather window before going for our walk. 

Last remnants of the snow from earlier in the week, Hanmer Forest Park

There must have been more snow deposited at this end of the forest as we continued to see patches of it scattered here and there for the rest of the walk...

On a forestry road, Forest Journey

Forest journey heading into a Redwood grove, Hanmer Forest Park

The last section of the track was through some mixed Redwood, Ponderosa Pine and Black Spruce forest, all these areas were planted around 1910-1915. This part of the forest is filled with trees which live for a couple of hundred years so they will still be growing when you and I are long gone.

Something to contemplate.....

Karen on the forest Journey Track, Hanmer Forest Park

Jon walking the Forest journey, Hanmer Forest Park

There is a very nice grove of mixed Ponderosa Pine/Black Spruce towards the end of the Forest Journey track, the trees are over 100 years old now and are 30+ meters tall. I love the vanilla/butterscotch smell of Ponderosa Pine they are one of my favorite tree types. 

Interpretive panel for Pondarosa Pine, Hanmer Forest Park

Pondersa Pine was one of the favored tree types in early exotic forests but they take much longer to mature than Pinus Radiata, Pinus Nigra and Pinus Contorta so became obsolete. These trees live for a long time in the US and Canada where there are 500-600 year old examples and can grow to over 60 meters tall. 

As big as they are these examples are just adolescents...

Hanmer Forest Park: adolescent Ponderosa Pine

There is a bench seat in the midst of the Poderosa Pines so you can take off a load and enjoy the trees. this photo is from summer 2015 which was the last time I walked this track. A lot of time and experiences since then....

Hanmer Forest Park: a bench near the Ponderosa Pines

How damn gorgeous is that view....a Ponderosa lined track with a thick layer of pine needles on the ground...almost looks like a American/Canadian forest. 

Lovely grove of Ponderosa Pine, Hanmer Forest Park

Once past the Ponderosa Pines you find yourself out at Jollies Pass road once again....

A snowy vista towards Mt Isobel

The remainder of the forest Journey is along the boundary fence of Hanmer forest Park. There are some nice views of Mt Isobel and the area to the north of Hanmer. You can walk on either side of the fence as there is a wide roadside margin if required. 

Mt Isobel massif from the Forest Journey Track

The track continues along just inside the fence the 600 odd meters back up the road to the car-park near the old Ranger HQ. Take care along here as this is a joint walking/MTB track so you sometimes have to dodge out of the way of bikes. 

 Jollies Pass Road borders the Hanmer Forest Park

Looking north-east along Jollies Pass Road, Hanmer Forest Park

Hanmer Forest Park: heading to end of Forest Journey

There is a grove of Pinus Nigra about half way along this section of the track. They were planted back in 1964 by kids from the local Primary School to celebrate Arbor Day. Black Pine live for about 100 years so these trees are half way through their life cycle. 

Hanmer Forest Park: grove of sixty year old trees planted on Arbor Day 1964

Alligator Alley is one of the MTB tracks through the forest so watch for cyclists at this point of the track...this is also part of the Bridle Path for people riding horses through the forest. 

Alligator Track a MTB ride in Hanmer Forest Park

Eventually the car park and ranger HQ hove into sight...there was a large group of MTB riders loading up their bikes after a ride in the forest. They were covered in mud from head to foot, hardly surprising given how wet it was along the forestry roads they use. 

They looked like a High School group as they were all about 15-16 years old...

First view of the Rangers HQ, Hanmer Forest Park

The Silver Surfer parked at the entrance to Hanmer Forest Park

Hanmer Forest Park: end of the Forest Journey

The Forest Journey is a lovely track at any time of the year but especially nice after rain and on a warm summers day. It is the longest of the Hanmer Forest Tracks but you could also walk the shorter Forest Amble (30 mins) or the Forest Walk (1 hour). All of these tracks start at the same point opposite the old Rangers HQ. 

Access: From Hanmer Springs Village head east out of town along Jollies Pass Road, the start of the various tracks are 2 km's out of town
Track Times: Forest Journey is 1.5 to 2 hours total
Miscellaneous: Toilets, water and map board located at the old Ranger Station/Park Headquarters car park on Jollies Pass Road

The Hanmer Forest Art Collection...

There is a collection of Forest Art in this part of the Hanmer Forest Park, the objects d'arte are scattered along the route of the Forest Amble and were carved by Andrew Lyons of Christchurch.

Hanmer Forest Park: interpretive panel describing the Forest Art collection

The subject are varied but include animals, flora and mythical beasts...most of them are on the first 500 meters of the track. The quality of the objects is very good and all of them have been carved from resources found in the forest including wood, logs and tree stumps. 

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: toadstool suite

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: possum climbing tree

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: troll peering around tree

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: a cackle of rats?

This is my personal favorite..a rampant Bald Eagle carved from the stump of a wind damaged tree. I like the thought and detail that went into this artwork and hey....I'm originally an American so whats not to like about a Bald Eagle....

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: rampant bald eagle

The dog artwork is right at the start of the walk and features anatomically correct equipe d'amour......

Woof, woof, woof..........he is packing some heat!!!

Hanmer Forest Park Forest Art Collection: mans best friend....

Hanmer Forest Part Forest Art Collection:....and his equipe d'amour!!!!

Even if you dont like walking at least go down and stroll along the 30 minute Forest Amble walk to see the artworks.