Lake Hāwea Station, New Zealand

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.12.51 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.13.57 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.14.04 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.13.50 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.14.53 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.15.02 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.15.16 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.12.38 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.15.25 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.15.33 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.10.25 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.10.05 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.10.18 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.15.40 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.15.50 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.16.11 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.16.37 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.17.23 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.17.40 amScreen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.18.04 amOur time in New Zealand was wonderful.  We dashed around visiting family and friends across the Manawatu the first few days and then Mike and I parted with Wesley (he stayed with his Aunt Stacey and Nanna Ann) as we boarded a flight to Christchurch.

I almost forgot to add here – that I had a terrible flu and was running to the toilet for a few hours before boarding and praying that I wouldn’t vomit on the plane ride.  Surprisingly I managed (with a lot of will power and a lot of deep breathing) to get through the flight and a harrowing 7 hours drive.  Mike was sooo good to me during that time helping make the journey less brutal by driving, feeding me and getting me into bed promptly as we got to our accomodation in Twizel.  I fevered that night but woke much refreshed the following day.

The area we were driving through was new for both of us and thankfully I managed to stay awake and soak up all the views for a few hours.  The first day it was 30 degrees and quite balmy.  The following morning we woke in Twizel to 8 degrees (the high for the day).  We certainly weren’t prepared for that drastic drop in temperatures – it was unusual for the area as the tail end of an ocean storm had crossed the entire country causing flooding in areas and heavy rains or even snow in our case!

Right, the reason we were on the South island sans wee toddler was to celebrate our friends (Tracey & Elliot Signal’s) wedding.  They are a wonderful couple we’ve known since Mike and I first met at Baker Creek Chalets over 8 years ago.

Mike and I spent one week alone together at Lake Hāwea Station (a merino and cattle propertly) in an old cottage, hiking, skippng rocks on the lake, gold panning, eating, reading and resting.

Our gold panning experience here was quite good – the weather was sunny and warm  which made the cooler waters rushing at our ankles feel a bit like a soothing spa treatment.  It was alot of fun, though we didn’t find anything this time.

Just a little note – The Hāwea Hotel Pub is very well placed with views of the lake and has some excellent food on offer to go with the views!

The little cottage has incredible sweeping views of the lake and some mountainous rugged terrain tucked just behind it for hiking.  Moving through the hills it really contrasted the merino farming we are used to seeing Australia.

There are plenty of decent hikes in the area of Wanaka – and on the first day we did Mount Iron which will have you towering above the little town.  Mike lamented to me that Wanaka wasn’t the same quiet little place as it was when he first stayed back 10 years ago.  It’s now a bustling little town with throngs of tourists.

To paint a picture for you – we went to get groceries the first day at the only supermarket and had to pass through roughly 1000 other patrons to get any food.  It was a frenzy!  There was plenty of produce as this grocery store has come to terms with the influx of shoppers but we hardly bought anything and just rushed to get some essentials for breakfast.  It was insane!

The wedding was an intimate setting on a hill with the view of the mountains as a backdrop.  There was also incredible catered food (it wasn’t a sit down meal but more canapés and little boxes of brisket and charred salmon and plenty of lamb chops!).

Tracey and Elliot looked wonderful and really put on a great event for everyone to enjoy.

We spent the last evening in Christchurch in town, where we enjoyed some wood fired pizza from a trendy quarter in the city.  It was really cool to see some of the new architecture (wish I took some photos!) that has been commissioned.

Wesley had an incredible time playing with Tess, the cats and all the new toys at his Nans.  He was whisked around with Stacey to play dates, swims and all kinds of adventures with family.  I was so eager to see him when we got back and he hardly took any notice of us ahah.

The Fern Walk – Tōtara Forest Reserve

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.40.41 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.41.01 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.41.23 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.42.01 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.43.18 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.43.33 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.43.46 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.44.07 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.44.20 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.44.28 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.46.09 pmScreen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.48.19 pmAh the sopping wet, quiet forest…my go to place when I need to recharge.  I’ve really needed the time to centre my thoughts.  Sleep deprivation has been slowly eroding my energy.  The past 9 weeks have been gruelling to say the least.

Wesley was in daycare today so I took the opportunity to drive up to the Pohongina and spend some time in the forest peering at fungus and listening to the birds whilst carefully plodding through thick goopy mud.  Within minutes my feet were soaked, normally that would bother me, but today I embraced the icy water on my toes…  It was really fresh and crisp under the shade of the trees, and the chill really invigorated me.

I came home a few hours later feeling much better.  It was exhilarating; exploring, looking to find the gorgeous colourful fungus growing on the ground, consuming the dead bark, and the fallen leaves.  I also noticed a few birds, some tui and fan tails were flitting around taking a peek at me, as I peeked at them.

A man was also fly fishing in the Pohangina river – and I thought of Mike coming out to the same spot in search of trout… Simply put, he is deeply missed around these parts and we are so looking forward to reuniting with him.  We may know in the next week!

Long distance has been challenging, so thankfully there is the forest to help me regroup and prepare for the next few weeks.

Below details a short story taken from the Papatoetoe Central Schools website about the Māori connection to the tōtara tree…  Read on!

The Totara in Maori Legend – Rata and the Tree

Rata was in the forest wandering about wondering what to do about retrieving the body of his father who had recently died when he decided he would chop down a tree and build a waka.

He selected a Totara, felled it, and went home planning to return in the morning to begin building the waka. When he did return he found the tree wasnt lying on the ground as he’d left it but standing as if it had never been felled.

He chopped the tree down again this time trimming the trunk and removing the bark and and went home with the same result when he returned the next day.

He chopped the tree down a third time, this time trimming and shaping the tree and scooping out the inside and decided to sneak back during the night to see what was happening

When he approached the tree in the dark he saw to his amazement that birds and insects were reassembling the tree to return it to its original state.

Rata apologised for chopping down the Totara and explained why he was doing so (to retrieve his Father), then offered to help lift the Totara back into place.

When dawn came Rata was ll alone, the little creatures had gone, and the Totara was back in its original state. Rata vowed to never chop down another tree, and a voice near him told him that he may, but he must ask permission from Tane Mahuta first.

As Rata returned home he came across a mighty war canoe sitting on logs in the forest, and he asked if it was his, and the voice said “yes, Rata’s waka”

Two more nights…

Lately the autumn colours have begun to creep in and transform some of the foliage.  The pops of orange and red are striking amidst the vibrant green landscape surrounding us.  With the change of colours comes a drop in temperature.  It was cold enough to leave the ground thick with a blanket of icy frost this morning.  Needless to say, our log fireplace has been roaring over night and well into the morning.

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In the flurry of recent cooler days, we met our new neighbour, whom has made herself right at home in a paddock up the road.  She is a total punk rocker with four nose piercings and yet is so sweetly polite of her sheep paddock mates.

Wesley is now marching, and has learned so many little adorable things.  From making tiny monkey, lion and chicken sounds – he’s also learned he can transport items in a little trolley and take them with him.  Honestly, I am in total rapture watching him play and discover the world around him, even though I am severely sleep deprived…my fascination is endless.  I often find myself smiling and feeling this huge sense of gratitude for him joining our lives.  Today, he was babbling away in the back seat and I was just headed home with him from the library and I was beaming hearing him.  This depth of love, is profound.

His first birthday party is this weekend.  We’ll have family over for a little party and some much deserved cake!

Mike returns in two days which is so exciting, he has been away 26 days.  It’s been a long stretch but thankfully we’ve made it through despite some adverse conditions!  I have a newfound respect for single mothers.  There have been a few rough moments, but overall it’s not been too bad.  22 of the nights Wesley was not sleeping well – he’s had teeth, sickness and tummy aches, and crazy early mornings.  How do children wake so perky at 5am?  Last night there were some signs of improvement, which are so welcome!

It’s going to be so cute to see my boys reunite, and also have a little sleep break lets be honest!  I do need to recover for the next stretch, that’s obvious by this stage.  My intake of coffee is at an all time high.  One thing that has helped me with the long distance, is not focusing too long on it.  This is one of the longest stretches we’ve been apart and it wasn’t too bad.  This is also largely on account of the amount of attention given to wee Wesley.  That being said, when it does pop into my mind the longing to be held by Mike…it’s pretty powerful.  I miss him so much, I would love a reassuring and comforting cuddle!

Oh, these flowers are from Mothers Day.  Wesley was in rough shape that day with a high fever, and I was given a few hours to rest and recover by Mike’s mum Ann.  She brought the flowers to me from herself and Wesley’s great grandmother.  I wish they could have stayed like this forever, they are like works of art in this image.  So beautiful…flowers just feel like colour magic in any space you find them!

This is a little list of some new music I’ve been listening to the past couple of weeks…if you’re so inclined to give them a try – just follow the link to listen.

Living Days – Thrill Anybody

Woodkid – Run Boy Run

Twin Wave – Matador

The Moth & The Flame – Young & Unafraid

Christine and the Queens – iT

Eat More Cake – Heat of the Night

Georgi Kay – Ipswich – This track features on a New Zealand television program called Top of the Lake – which if you’re looking for something grim, and beautifully shot…check it out.  Have you seen it?  So compelling…and twisted .

Banks. – Trainwreck

x

Holly

Metamorphosis of a Butterfly

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Today we got to witness the final stages of metamorphosis for one of the monarch butterflies hanging in our kitchen.  Although the emergence was quite sudden, the darkening actually took about 24 hours to complete.  We’d been rushing over and checking on it often to make sure we were able to watch the final show.  It did not disappoint!

Such spectacular colours. 

Have you had the pleasure of watching this in person?

Pukaha Mount Bruce

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-43-48-pmWesley and I visited Pukaha Mount Bruce this afternoon whilst Mike was helping some friends on a farm nearby.  Mount Bruce is a wildlife restoration centre that focuses on reestablishing endangered and rare New Zealand birds.  The centre spans some 940 hectares of dense native forest and is a beautiful place to hike and enjoy a native forest.

We spent a few hours walking around taking in all the gorgeous colours and sounds.  At the moment the forest is absolutely teeming with cicada.  The sounds of summer calling in the humid air!

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-34-35-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-37-14-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-08-pm Conservation has been taking place within the park since the 1960’s and is maintained by international volunteers throughout the seasons.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-43-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-55-pmHere you’ll find encounters with endangered (and rare white) kiwi, eels, and quite a few beautiful birds including: kokako, kaka, hihi, takahe, kakariki and whio.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-34-18-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-27-at-9-56-55-amThe kaka particularly captivate me.  The dark wine colours of their feathers paired with their cheeky personalities make them irresistible to watch.  There are roughly 160 kaka in the forest that are all free to travel and are indeed quite wild.  They have an impressive range of calls…some almost gremlin like and others quite sweet.  screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-40-42-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-41-55-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-42-08-pm

If you are near Masterton, I highly recommend checking this place out.  It’s not to be missed!