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”

Emperor Gum Moth

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-8-48-30-amscreen-shot-2017-01-09-at-8-47-59-amYesterday afternoon Mike spotted this emperor gum moth clinging to our swan plants.  He called me from in the house and I literally gasped when I lay eyes on it.  After much searching on this website by Landcare Research we found it’s actually an Australian moth.

Last Nights Earth Quake in New Zealand


Last night like the rest of the Nation, Mike and I woke to a light rumbling.  At first I thought it might be the train down the road…but this began to feel just a little bit more aggressive.  Very quickly that vibration started growing and turning into rolling movements.  We ran to Wesley’s room and scooped him up.

I was utterly hopeless in the situation.  I just said “Oh my god” and tried not to fall over.

It was as if our house had turned into a boat on rough seas.  I felt like I couldn’t keep my footing.

Mike calmly got us to the front doorway leading into our home, it’s large and sturdy and the safest place to stay.  He learned in school what to do in these times, I might need a crash course!

As we stood in the doorway the house continued to roll with the earth.  We looked outside and sparks were flying off the power lines up our entire street.

The moon was full, round and bright.  It lit up the trees around our home and filled the sky with a pale light.  Wesley woke quite stunned at the thought of being taken from bed before he was ready.  I saw him look at the moonlight in awe.  Mike ran back and grabbed a wool blanket to keep the baby warm.

Looking out into the sky, we saw the silhouette of pine and aspen trees against the moonlight.  To look at them, the world seems so steady.

It was in this moment, I realised how small and insignificant we are against the power of the earth, nature, gravity…  I just wanted us to be safe and hoped that no one was in danger.

It didn’t last too long, and caused no damage here in this area.  We checked online and saw that the rest of the country was doing ok around 1am, but saw that there were much worse movements in the Southern Island that did cause some damage and evacuations.

I did not sleep well.  My brain was spinning.  Mike promptly feel asleep and Wesley did too (he even sung himself to sleep).

Waking this morning the ground is still and steady the trees are tall and firm.  Almost as if nothing had ever happened.

If you are in New Zealand or even abroad and want to see what is happening this website will give you the location and seismic details of each earth quake.  We live in the North Island several hours North of Wellington.  Checking the GeoNet site it looks like the South Island is still experiencing moderate to severe quakes this morning.  There are reports that state New Zealand experiences up to 15,000 earth quakes each year, but that only 100-150 of these are felt by the population.

We are now going to prepare an emergency kit just in case and are relieved to hear that most people got through this in good health.  To read more about the damages click here.

About the photos:  A very tiny monarch caterpillar is living with it’s brothers and sisters on some swan plants Mike planted when we first arrived (the butterflies love them!).  An apple seed sprouts to life in our kitchen…and the view from the front porch this morning.

Snowboarding at Mount Ruapehu


We rose early, stoked the fire, dusted off our snowboarding gear, gave Wesley some kisses and gently left the house to drive two hours to the nearest mountain: Mount Ruapehu.

On a clear day this mountain can be seen from the end of our quaint little road, beyond the chrysanthemum farm, dairy farms, pine trees and sweeping fields.  It’s vast peak has been slathered with snow most of this winter, and staring at it from a distance was really fuelling our need to strap into our boots and hit some snow.

Mount Ruapeh is 2797 meters tall, and is actually an active volcano.  It last erupted September 25, 2007.

I was three months postpartum.  I’d been running daily and doing leg exercises to get my strength back (my arms however are like steel guns lifting our heavy boy each day – no need to work on those!).

It was just before sunrise when we left. The morning light made for a beautiful drive.

We’d waited for this day for a few weeks, and the anticipation of getting onto the mountain was pretty high.  Slowly we journeyed forward… The mountain gaining height every moment we caught a glimpse of it.

We arrived.

The lines were long.  Very long.

Being a clear blue sky day, just about everyone from the North Island had turned up to enjoy the snow like we had.  Eventually, we boarded a lift and made our way up to the highest point.

It then hit me.  I did not feel confident… I felt wobbly and completely out of my depth, when I skid over some ice.  I caught my balance only to hit another patch and land very hard on my tush.  I lay down and cried.  It was like a car had slammed into me. It hurt so badly.  My right bum cheek was aching and sending pain up into my spine.

Not looking forward to the journey down the rest of the mountain (I sobbed to Mike) that I didn’t want to do this at all.  There was no other option but to keep moving down the hill.

I thought, perhaps it would pass and that I’d be ok in a few minutes.  We took a break at a cafe in the middle of the hill.  Mike headed out to do a few runs while I enjoyed the view and tenderly sat on my tush.

An hour had passed, and Mike returned – telling me he had only managed one run as the line had a 40 minute wait.  Yikes!

During the hour, I noticed the vibrating pain did not lessen at all.

It took me an hour (and a few more tears) to get down the rest of the mountain.  Afterward we took our time and enjoyed a scenic drive home, and I braced my body against every bump on the road.

It’s been 6 weeks since that day.

And while I can actually sit down now and stand without too much discomfort, it’s definitely still sore and I will probably always think of my tail bone and that insane pain when I see that beautiful snowy mountain in the distance.