As our family explored the area around Twizel, a small town sitting near the base of New Zealand’s famous Mt. Cook, we discovered Lake Ohau. A beautiful little lake fed by glacial waters, Lake Ohau’s milky, seafoam green color is dotted with small tree-covered islands. We wandered around the woods near the lake, where the girls discovered the bright red Fly Agaric mushrooms, which resemble Smurf houses according to them…or Super Mario bonus points according to Brian.
The only drawback to our lovely Ohau experience was the trash we found strewn throughout the woods. Bits of rubbish sat on the forest floor among the pine needles and mushrooms, bringing an unfortunate reminder of our human impact on nature. Our family came back a couple days later armed with a roll of trash bags. We picked up the standard soda cans, beer bottles, candy wrappers and plastic bags. We even found things like socks, wine glasses, hats, a dust pan (ironically), a dirty diaper (Come on, parents! Really?!) and a couple massive empty bags of horse feed.
Our time in the woods made a difference to the visual beauty of the area and we got some words of thanks from the locals who saw us at work. After asking me what we were doing and hearing our story one woman I met said, “I come here to sit in the mornings several times a week. I don’t know why I never thought about cleaning up before, but you can bet I’m going to do it from now on.”