Formed by a landslide around 10,000 years ago, Rotopounamu is a forest-fringed little gem – a lovely contrast to the more starkly dramatic, actively-volcanic landscapes that attract most visitors to New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park.
(the large, furled fern and everything else in this post were photographed on the afternoon of March 20, 2017)
“Roto” means “lake”, “pounamu” is the Maori word for “greenstone”.
Saying the name properly may be beyond most visitors, but completing the Lake Rotopounamu Track is not challenging; even if you also enjoy a swim in the lake, this very rewarding stroll can easily be undertaken as the centrepiece of your morning or afternoon.
The lake covers about one square kilometre; the walk encircles Rotopounamu, but only occasionally takes you to its shores.
The walk is primarily a forest experience; specifically a podocarp-dominated forest, in which the big trees are conifers but not at all like the pines of the Northern Hemisphere’s temperate rainforests.
This forest is much shaggier; it looks more “primitive”, more “ancient”. Dinosaurs would look out of place in the California Redwoods, but they would “fit right in”, here, among the Rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum), Kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides), Matai (Prumnopitys taxifolia) et al.
Of course we saw no dinosaurs, but their feathered descendants are more in evidence here than in most of New Zealand’s forests; Rotopounamu’s is now much less infested with stoats, rats, possums et al – thanks to a deal of volunteer effort.
You may have already seen the individual pictured above in a better photo.
Rotopounamu’s forest is also rich in exquisite fungi.
Coming soon on Pelican Yoga: the nearby volcanoes.