Here tells a story, of a fence along a stretch of country road where many a long mile walked, or a hard day worked is put to rest.
It is the story of the boot fence in Waitomo in the North Island, New Zealand. A fence that started modestly, with a few pairs of work boots hung on the fence by the Tawarau tramping tracks sign by a woman called Irene.
Nature and Nosh guide Irene grew up in a house down Appletree Road, opposite the now famous boot fence. Her family farmed cattle and sheep, milked a couple of house cows, cleared overgrown land and had a BIG garden with lots of grapes and watermelons.
Appletree Road was named after the one stand alone apple tree Irene's mother planted 60 years ago. The tree is still there though barely hanging in there today! There were no possums around and the fruit trees did alright back then.
Irene and her siblings explored and played in the surrounding bush and waterways that today is called the Tawarau Conservation area. There was only a dirt track in to the farm then, so mostly travel was by tractor, on foot, or, if the weather was good in the summer, you could get a car in there. It wasn't an easy farm and her parents worked hard to make something of it, enlisting help from all the kids - everyone was expected to do their part.
When her parents sold the farm, it was bought by a forestry company who planted pines.
Irene had an idea to pay tribute to her parents and all the hard work they had put in to the farm before they sold it. She begun one day with a very special ceremony of "hanging up their boots" after they both passed.
She added to this several pairs of old and worn forestry workers boots on the fence by their laces.
Inspired by the sight, passersby - both locals and tourists alike - were compelled to pull over and add to the spectacle with their own worn pairs of boots. In some cases, a few crafty opportunists saw their chance for a free pair of boots, untying the laces of some of the lesser "worn" boots and making off with their bounty.
That's when Irene decided to start nailing the boots to the fence! She's put tireless hours into getting the fence established, even when it seemed more boots were going 'walking' than what she had hung!
It's been over a decade since her parents boots were hung and today it's adorned with hundreds of tramping boots, work boots, walking shoes, gumboots (wellingtons!) and the odd jandal/sandal/flip flop/thong and runs about 200metres long!
A fitting tribute to trampers, hikers, trekkers, walkers, adventurers and explorers alike, the fence offers a quirky and fun surprise to those visiting the area.
After hiking around the world and on her return home, Nature and Nosh owner Kylie Rae decided to have a 'boot hanging ceremony' of her own, hanging her pink-laced boots to rest on the fence.
A few happy hikers have left their beloved boots with us to retire on the boot fence for them. After having walked the 17km from Appletree road, through the Tawarau forest and out to the spectacular gorge valley on Speedies road, we can't think of a more appropriate ending for those pairs that have seen better days!
So, we invite you to come walk our Heart of the North hiking tour with us and see the fence for yourselves.