A Walk In The Bush
I’d imagined Evansdale Glen as nothing more than a small reserve with an impracticable carpark, some scattered picnic tables, an ineffective rubbish bin and a small path leading up to some type of creek or stream. There’s an unwritten rule in Aotearoa that every reserve must be placed beside a waterway of some sort.
I expected Evansdale Glen to be no different. I’d already deduced that the place couldn’t be very big, after all, how big could the reserve be when during 13 years of driving past, twice a day, I’d never once seen anyone stop and visit.
Arriving, what I found was something altogether quite different. It was breathtakingly beautiful. I had to double check on Google Maps that I was in the right place. After parking my car beside a sign that said, ‘Evansdale Glen Scenic Reserve’ I was still sure there must be some mistake. Yet here I was. Standing, phone in hand, jaw well and truly dropped looking out beyond a hidden bush canopy. This must be what the New Zealand wilderness is like I thought.
With my camera on my back, blue sky overhead and a path in front of me, I headed off. The track quickly arrived at a stream where some kind people had thoughtfully put stones in to step on. At this point the local fantail population took a curious interest in what I was doing. Personally, I think they were waiting for me to slip in the stream. This determined my resolve to cross without incident. It was at this point, upon successful competition of the water-hazard, that I came across two signs. The first read
“play it safe in the outdoors, alter level 2.”
The second stated that “this is a popular day walking and overnight tramping area. Expect to encounter hunters at any time.”
‘HUNTERS? ‘Oh Jesus,’ I said to myself.
‘So, at any time I’m liable to get shot! What a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon’ I thought to myself. So, feeling like I was now part of The Lord Of The Rings I headed into the bush.
The track which had obviously been recently maintained quickly narrowed into a gorge or ravine valley type area. Two minutes later I reached another fence line with a sign that said
“Wild animal control operations using firearms are currently being undertaken in this area.”
This brought an obvious question to mind. Should I be more worried about the wild animals or the firearms being used to control them?” More nervous than ever, I pushed on.
As the track continued, a thought suddenly crossed my mind. Maybe the reason I’ve never heard of this place is because no one ever ventures out alive? Such are the dangers of the New Zealand bush or walking tracks for that matter. You not only have to survive the traffic just to get there (campervans), but when you do, there’s water obstacles, hunters and wild animals to elude. What a glorious country this!
The next 30 minutes was spent following a twisting and turning track over boulders, through enticing pieces of forest and bush and alongside a river. Along the way, in parts, trees of all sizes had fallen either side of the river. The tracks in the mud, the fallen trees and the sheer violence with which they had been ripped from the ground meant only one thing. Orcs!
In a matter of moments the gully widened and I found a good stopping point. Being a typical New Zealand male, a short 5 minute walk had ended up being an arduous unplanned journey. Without any snacks and with nothing to drink, I took stock of my situation.
Storm clouds were closing in, I was hungry, thirsty, alone, my legs hurt, my face was sore and I wasn’t really sure where I was. To make matters worse, hunters were loose with guns, wild animals were in the area, a horde of Orcs were close by (chasing hobbits no doubt) and I had a suspicion that Sauron the Dark Lord would appear at any moment. I had too clear choices, head straight back to the car or risk everything and stay. I bravely choose the latter.
As the light started to fade from the gorge and shadows took hold, I unlocked the car. The walk back hadn’t been nearly as harrowing. Fortunately the fantail population had found me and kept me company all the way back to the car while keeping all manner of wild animals, hunters, Orcs and Dark Lords at bay. As I headed for home I reflected on my trip to Evansdale Glen. It left me with one very clear and concise conclusion. Orcs and Dark Lords are mortally afraid of Fantails. I wondered if Peter Jackson knew this?