Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Seeing Red in New Zealand

(In celebrating the Walking Connection's 25th year we are featuring some of the people we have met along the way that share our love for walking. This is the first in a series. Enjoy!)

John Dwyer is from Wellington New Zealand. He found us on the internet around the year 2000. In those days we had a membership that included a red T-shirt. John a keen walker, wore his proudly.

He has kept in touch over the years and always participates in
 our annual World Wide Walk. Though communication is much easier now with e-mail and Facebook, in the beginning he hand wrote letters to Gene and I about his walking adventures.

Here is one of those wonderful letters we received in February 2004:
Hello Gene and Jo Ann
A couple of weeks ago I went on holiday with my Sister and her family for a three day trip into the forest near Rotorua. While attending to our forest accommodation fees, a staff member at the Tauranga Department of Conservation, who are in charge of our forests here in New Zealand, tapped on my back and said... 
"Ah!! a well known overseas walking group this"!! He had seen the two boots that were printed on the back of your T shirt. Turns out he took your group for a hike when you were last here. 
Also he had worked in the same forest near where I had lived and worked. I had worked part time  planting pine trees and  have visited there since whenever I return to my old home town area.Of course the conversation was also about "The Walking Connection", so although you may have only been here once, your T shirt bought alive someone else's memory of you previous visit. 
John on the trail in January, 2004
"My red Walking Connection T shirt, a high visible object, on our walk."
Our two day hike in the Whirinaki forest, was great, alongside a river, in Native forest, with three steep rock gorges, a large waterfall and a limestone cave to explore as well. The 26 km hike, with a overnight stay in a forest cabin, of bunks, candles, sink and table, was a very peaceful place to rest for the night. Being next to the river and being able to see some blue ducks which are native to the forest, early in the morning, was a high light. 
We camped the 2nd night by a waterfall, and swam in its pool and its flow was a great back massage, when you backed up to it. It was cold water, however we were very much in need of a shower after hiking for two days in the forest.!! This  had a  very basic camp ground of a toilet  and somewhere to camp on. How we slept that night!! 
Next day we went back into the forest for a three hour walk to a fresh water lagoon, where there were ducks and frogs among the native trees, growing in the lagoon edges. The walk in warm sweaty conditions was well worth the effort. Summer time here in January. 
My red Walking Connection T shirt, a high visible object, on our walk.
Happy walking,
Bye for now,
John Dwyer
John still walking in New Zealand, May 2015
It really is a Small World!