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Gorgeous green gems
21 May 2015

Adventure sport: it’s regular sport tossed out of town and magnified.

Look at the epic Coast-to-Coast multisport race across the South Island, or many of the slightly less taxing events such as The Nugget that take place on the Virtually On Track gems.

At heart they are a mix of a bit of walking, a bit of cycling and some messing around in small boats – all activities that can be done within the confines of our urban centres.

The difference is they’ve escaped town and the activity has had a damn good feed of steroids.

In a similar way, a couple of our VOT gems are hosting some equally impressive “break-out” activities.

Gardening is generally considered to be an indulgence in gentle contemplation, imposing order on the backyard for the benefit of beauty or belly.

But there’s an “adventure sport” version that’s been happening at McLaren Falls and Hukutaia Domain for quite a while, is underway at Tect All Terrain Park and most recently has taken root with a particularly native bent at Onepu Park.

McLaren Falls provides the most visible example, with the Bay of Plenty Tree Society having spent hundreds of hours over the years, planting, pruning and caring for the massive selection of exotic trees which make the park such a stunning place to visit.

Hukutaia Domain is another well-established site, with a collection of exotic species nestled around the giant puriri known as Taketakerau.

Less established but also making a big effort, Lions Club members have a grove they are working on at Tect that will deliver its best returns for future generations.

New kid on the block is Onepu Park which has been gifted a collection of critically-endangered New Zealand native plants cultivated over many years by dedicated horticulturalist Jo Bonner.

These rarely-seen specimens will be a challenge to grow but will give the park a unique aspect as a kind of “mainland island” – a back-up colony in case they are destroyed in their limited remaining habitats.

Onepu also has the beginnings of a native arboretum, a collection of trees that will hit its straps some decades from now.

All these efforts make for a wonderful back-drop for those who run and mountainbike and kayak through our VOT gems, but they are also adding a great dollop of special character for those who like to take their time, smell the flowers or deliver a hug to a well-deserving tree.

So if your buzz is having a stroll and indulging a bit of gardening, you might like to take a walk on the wild side, get involved with one of the VOT Gem care groups and enjoy growing a little bit of the world into a much more interesting place.

This post was written by

Steve Brightwell - who has written 17 posts

Steve Brightwell is a partnership ranger with the Department of Conservation.

He has been a part of the Virtually On Track team from the project's inception.

Steve lives in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, has a communications background, and is a weekend warrior of modest multisport ability.

The views he expresses for this blog are his own and do not necessarily reflect or imply official policy of the Department of Conservation.

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