Too late in process of deforesting their island for timber and agriculture, the New Zealanders discovered that their native trees took much longer to regrow than the trees they were used to in Europe and the Americas. They needed to figure out a way to replenish their forests and timberlands without having to wait hundreds of years.
Interestingly enough, they also discovered that the Coastal Redwood species grew much more quickly in New Zealand than it did in its native California. The trees were brought in and planted in great plantations a little over a hundred years ago — and incredibly, these plantations are now massive stands of glorious redwood trees that have reached, in that relatively short time, a stature that would normally have taken much longer in North America.
One of these plantations was not far from our house in Rotorua, and we wanted to explore it through the treewalk that led from tree to tree, high in the air.
Looking up from the ground, the trees towered over us, and the sunlight fell through the branches and among the trunks in a dappled green.
The platforms weren’t even halfway up the trees’ massive trunks, but were still well above the tops of the tree ferns that scattered the forest floor.
The little kids were less taken with the forest views and were more intent on running along the narrow bridges that swung between the trees. So Taryn, Karl, and I took a slower pace and followed along behind.
Once back on the ground, we regrouped and dove back into the forest we had just seen from above. What a different experience to be down amongst the ferns and bushes, instead of walking far above them! It felt a bit like Alice must have felt in Wonderland — growing from large to small and feeling that great shift in perspective.
It was an interesting contrast, to compare this non-native redwood forest to the native forest we had seen the day before during our ziplining canopy tour. While I feel sad for the loss of the great native forests, this redwood forest was still strikingly beautiful in its own right — and far preferable to a stretch of barren landscape that it could have become after deforestation!