Ruud on the Routeburn
In mid December, renowned entomologist, Ruud Kleinpaste, joined us on the Routeburn Track to share a trip with an enthusiastic group of New Zealanders, as well as an adventurous father and son from the US.
Ruud is an inspiring, passionate host, with the engaging personality of the born performer and the enthusiasm of a person who is an expert in his field. During the coach ride to Te Anau the next morning, he spoke about conservation and how communities like Te Anau are getting children involved in projects such as 'Kids Restore the Kepler'. He pointed out that you don't meet any 'ex-environmentalists', so getting children involved early on is a good way for conservation actions and attitudes to permeate into the community.
During the first day of walking from the Divide to Mackenzie Lodge, the group took the side walk up to Key Summit and was rewarded with incredible views down the Hollyford, Greenstone and Eglinton Valleys. Ruud pointed to a rock and asked us to find the moth that was sitting on it. After a long look and no success, he pointed out a lichen moth that was perfectly camouflaged against the lichens on the rock! (see the photo gallery)
We arrived at Mackenzie Lodge and a few hardy souls went for a swim in Lake Mackenzie, certainly a cool end to the day!
After dinner, Ruud gave a presentation about biodiversity and the importance of the smaller creatures, even the Sandflies!
The following morning saw strong winds and rain across the Hollyford Face for our second day of walking. Thankfully this eased off and cleared up quite nicely for the afternoon, allowing Ruud and a few others to ascend the side walk from the Harris Saddle up Conical Hill, reaching an altitude of 1515m. Ruud was very surprised to see some water boatmen (aquatic insect) in the pools high up on this walk.
At the Routeburn Falls Lodge we were told about biomimicry and advances in technology using principals from nature.
Our final day saw us taking a relaxed walk through the Beech forest to the end of the Routeburn Track. We were fortunate to see a flock of endangered Mohua (Yellowhead), as well as numerous sightings of Titipounamu (Riflemen), Riroriro (Grey Warbler) and Pipipi (Brown Creeper).
Towards the end of the track Ruud uncovered a Cave Weta from a fallen branch and we discovered a couple of Gastrodia, or Potato Orchids starting to flower.
Ruud always gives us a perspective of the Tracks, we don't normally see and thanks to some great photography by Shaun our head guide we are able to show you some of our smaller friends on the track.
Thanks again Ruud for another Great Walk.