Today began with another watching of the sunrise as I was too excited to sleep! The mid-conference field trip is always a highlight of any conference but the promise of seeing multiple volcanoes in one day was too much for this budding geologist! So, having dragged the Long-Suffering Mentor through our now common early-morning ritual of caffeine, and more caffeine (keep-cups anyone?!) we arrived at the bus stop complete with hiking packs and comfy boots!
Our first stop was Mount Eden (Maungawhau). It’s a volcanic cone with a huge crater that is 50 metres deep. We were able to walk around the edge of the crater and the views over Auckland were stunning! Due to indigenous beliefs we weren’t allowed to walk down into the crater – Mataaho was a deity said to live in the crater and to be the guardian of the secrets hidden in the earth. The volcano is a scoria cone so, of course, lots of scoria was to be found (and some collected!).
Next we went to the magical place of Cascades Kauri Park. This park consists of some remnant native forest and had the most magnificent Kauri Trees. They were absolutely huge – I’ve never seen trees as big as these were. The circumference of the trunks were bigger than my arm span. Stunning ferns and bubbling creeks provided a wonderful scenery for a bush walk. The most vivid thing that stood out to me was how quiet it was. Here in Australia our forest is full of bird song and wildlife calls. There, it was dead silent with only sporadic calls from birdlife. We are so lucky here in Australia to have so much native wildlife to watch and hear!
After a wonderful boxed lunch (the fanciest I’ve ever had the pleasure to consume!), we again boarded the bus and headed to Lake Pupuke, a crater lake on the north shore of Auckland. Again, the crater was huge but the lake wasn’t what got me wetting my pants! It was the stratigraphy of the road cuttings leading down into the area which had myself, and a few others, madly collecting samples and swapping sounds of excitement! The ash beds of the volcanic eruption were clearly visible, and it was here I proudly collected my first sample of volcanic rock, Pahoehoe, a bread-like lava that was really glassy! It was everywhere and I was happily chipping samples to look at! In fact, I became so distracted with my rock sections that the bus had to come and collect me – complete with a large rock sitting at the front door that my Long-Suffering Mentor had managed to convince the bus driver to bring home for me (God, I love her!).
Having arrived home happy, but with heavy back packs, I began to madly prepare for my talk that was happening the following morning. Terrified at the simplicity of my presentation, with no wiggle graph in sight, I hoped that my massively impressive drone footage would distract them so much they wouldn’t be paying attention to anything I said anyway. At least that was the plan…….