By: Blonde Two

Have you ever thought about how some of the places that you love to visit got their names?  I often do, especially on Dartmoor.  Here in New Zealand, if you walk about 3km (one of those kilometres is the farm drive) down and then up and then down and then up Hunter’s Road (it is all up and then down here), you will come to a place that I have always known as “Hunter’s Bush”.

Upon investigation, it would appear that this little piece of preserved New Zealand bush is actually called Henry’s Bush.  I am struggling to find out exactly who “Henry” was but it is in all likelihood the name of the person who donated the land and is now part of a 7km walkway from our nearest village Patumahoe (pat-uh-ma-hoe-ee).  Patumahoe doesn’t have a very friendly meaning – it comes from two Maori words “Patu” to kill or strike and “Mahoe” the whitewood tree and refers to a battle in which a chap called Huritini was killed by a blow from a sapling.

At first glance as you descend the rather slippery path (I use the word path lightly here) into Henry’s Bush, you might be forgiven for thinking that you are in a deciduous UK forest. The birds sing, water flows and the sun shines through the trees.  If you stop and look more carefully, however, you will realise that all is not as English as you might have thought.

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The bird song for example, is a lot louder and more insistent.  There are not only cheeps and chirps but loud rasps and whistles – even the birds’ wings make more noise as they flutter around you catching insects.  The flowing water is a gentle, dusky blue shade and runs from a waterfall which tumbles over odd shaped moss green boulders.  The trees have wonderful names – Ponga (silver tree fern), Cabbage Tree (known to us as the Torbay palm), Five Finger and Lancewood to name but a few.

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When you glimpse beyond this tiny reserve, you can see farmland that, on one hand is reminiscent of Devon’s rolling hills but on the other, is completely different.  The land sits in folded hills that were formed from volcanic fallout, the hills are smaller and closer together and it is all so very, very green.  I will call this green New Zealand Spring Green, you never quite see its like in England.

Hunters Bush FarmlandIn fact, it is so green here at the moment, that I am beginning to think that the Kiwis invented the colour (don’t tell them I said that!)