36. Relaxing in Curio Bay

We’ve both been to Curio Bay in the past with its petrified conifer forest laid down in Jurassic times by flooding that included volcanic ash. It was nice to make this return and relax on the beach for a couple of hours at low tide. There was an information centre we hadn’t seen before which doubled up as a registration point for the camping ground and a museum. The charge for the museum, which didn’t seem very big, was $20 per person – we knew we’d be able to visit four other museums for that cost, so gave it a miss.

The South Caitlins Charitable Trust have taken on guardianship over a small forest behind the beach. They look after what’s already there, make new plantings of local native bush, and have developed a public walking path through it. We took the path and were delighted at passing through a rimu forest, a first for both of us! Soon we moved on to an area where the bush was more varied, and included tall totara and matai which are likely to be direct descendants of the conifers that lie fossilised on the beach so close by!

Curio Bay and the fossilised forest from Jurassic times. People access this bay by climbing down a staircase. From the bottom of the stairs, looking both ways, ropes are draped across the flats from sea to scrub. We could explore only between the ropes; beyond them is hoiho/yellow eyed penguin territory, where they can waddle from the sea to their nests and back in peace. This seemed a great way to cater for both penguins and people on one beach.
Fossilised tree trunks lay all over the beach.
There were a lot of stumps as well, silicified in different shapes and sizes.
My shoe is in there to give an idea of the size of the tree trunk/branch.
On the beach above the high tide mark lay small rocks and it wasn’t difficult to find fossil evidence of wood in many of them. These stones are only for looking at; no one is allowed to take anything away (this was a problem a few decades ago), to preserve what’s left of the petrified forest.
Kevin at rest for a short time – he explored all over the rocks just as I did.
Creeping slowly up, I got quite close to this shag, dipping and diving for a morsel to eat.
The tide’s just starting to come in!
Heading into the rimu forest.
This rimu forest survived the early European burn offs for farmland.
A young patete growing in the rimu forest. The soft wood of this plant was used by Maori for fire-starting.
Big southern rata with twisting trunk.
Leaving Curio Bay we saw this old trough where horses, in the days before vehicles, could be watered.

My haiku for the year, two verses:

Grey petrified wood

Sea and folk wash and walk you

Oh! Worn by us both

White petrified wood

Your descendants grow close by

Cared for; your light shines!

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