The Story Of The Lady Of The Mist
Two hundred years ago the Coromandel Peninsula was very different place than it is today. It was an area of magnificent natural beauty, with an abundance of life. The Peninsula was largely covered in forest and bush with giant kauri dominating the landscape. The bird and animal life was phenomenal with kaka, and kiwi everywhere and thousands of other species sharing the forest, many now extinct. Native frogs now only found above 400m flourished at sea level.
At dawn and dusk the forests were incredibly noisy with Kiwi and Morepork competing with Tui for the airwaves. In the 5 days before and after the full moon the noise was literally deafening.
The climate was generally cooler 200 years ago which meant that the Peninsula took on a very mystical appearance with the ranges were frequently shrouded in a thick mist.
People lived in small settlements scattered around the Peninsula, generally on the coast or just inland next to fresh- water streams.
One such settlement was located at the junction of the Kaimarama River and Mahakirau River. It is close to where the 309 road meets State Highway 25 today. From here, on the outgoing tide, people would paddle to the ocean at Whitianga to gather fish and would return on the incoming tide, their canoes full to the brim with tamure, kahawai and terakihi, caught in their flax nets. The fish were steamed or dried in the sun and saved in a storehouse. They had a year round supply of fresh water and there was fertile land on which to grow kumara, taro and yam. They would also hunt for birds to provide an alternative source of protein and aruhe (fern root) was in plentiful supply. Life was simple and generally good.
Further up stream was the dwelling place of a very ancient women recluse whose was said to have lived in one of the secluded valleys of the Kaimarama River, which was continually blanketed in mist. She was a seer of great repute and much sought after by her people for advice and guidance. However it was well known that none approached her refuge until she permitted and audience by causing a gleam of light to appear in the surrounding fog, otherwise they became lost forever in the forbidding mountains.
In this years adventure race you will be travelling into the depths of the Coromandel ranges in areas which are a little changed from 200 years ago. The forests and bush are quieter these days and the giants of the past are largely absent. However, there are still magnificent sites to behold and who knows you may come across an old women in the hills. Lets just hope that the mist has risen !