So after WEEKS of rain and struggling to get from hut to hut, I have been rewarded with AMAZING weather in the Nelson Lakes region of New Zealand. This little spot is absolutely beautiful and the perfect place for a break before I continue along the trail. My planned route is still blocked by snow, but I’ve been told the alternate route offers some spectacular views of the Southern Alps so I’m hoping the weather continues to stay beautiful.
Along my journey I’ve encountered some peculiar rocks covered in a red colored algae. After talking to one of the Department of Conservation staffers at the visitor center here, I’ve learned how important those red rocks actually are!
On many of the mountains here, you can see what are called slips. In the US we might refer to these as landslides or, in winter, avalanches. What is left behind is a swath of dirt and rocks that appears to be a scar on the side of the mountain. Several times the trail has taken me across these barren patches of rock and frequently the red rocks are littered throughout the debris field.
The algae is actually the beginning stage of the formation of forests. First, the red algae grows, followed quickly by green mosses. Over the period of a hundred years or so, the mosses will trap dirt and debris, causing a fertile layer of soil to build up and eventually bushes and trees will grow.
It’s amazing to see mother nature in action, rebuilding her forests where once there was only a debris field that looked utterly devoid of life.
I’ll continue to enjoy the sights and sounds of New Zealand as I continue to make my way to Bluff. Even on rainy days, there is so much beauty here to behold.
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