I dragged Ruth out of bed at 6:30am on a cool misty Sunday morning to head off for our day of tree planting on Urupukapuka Island. Our day packs were filled with exciting things such as first aid kits, rain jackets, spare footwear, a little sustenance and plenty of water.
By the time we checked in at the boat jetty the mist was starting to lift revealing 80 or so fellow planters kitted out in varying attire but all brandishing the telltale spade, with the blade suitably cleaned and wrapped in plastic to avoid the accidental introduction of more unwanted weeds onto the island.
The boat trip was somewhat more comfortable that the one that I experienced on Tuesday and by the time we disembarked at the Island the sun was blazing and the temperature rising. In good old kiwi terminology the day “had turned out to be a cracker’.
The briefing for the day included some sensible health and safety advice such as don’t chop your toes off because your boots will no longer fit and under no circumstances chop your partners toes off as that has far more dire consequences.
We headed off across the “hill” to our little bay where we would spend about four hours planting the 2,100 trees.
The day was so stunning that you could not help but take regular breaks (my excuse) to admire the surroundings.
After a late lunch we took a scenic route (they were the only ones on offer) back to the waiting boat before lounging around on the foreshore until the designated departure time. The kids had already arrived and helped to bring back memories of our own youth as they used the boat as a platform for launching into spectacular (and often foolhardy) dives and bombs into the water.
As we pulled away from the jetty after dropping one batch of planters at the nearby town of Russell, the skipper spotted plastic bag in the water and maneuvered the large boat so that a crew member could retrieve it. He told us how appalled he was by what he had seen in the Mediterranean, Ruth and I agreed that he should not head to Asia.
We both decided that it was one of our better travel experiences to date, in our own back yard.