Tuesday, July 23, 2013

lights and shakes

Sunday night was the last of the newly established three night festival Light Nelson, which was held in Queens Gardens in the middle of the city.  We arrived soon after this free event opened at 5.45, and there were already a lot of people wandering around in the dark. Despite the full moon and all the lights from the illuminated installations, it was quite dark, and we wished that we'd brought a torch.
The first installation to greet us as we walked in the gardens looked like three clumps of spun sugar, was in fact made from fishing nylon. They were hung on wires across the pond with lights above to illuminate them. It was great how the reflections on the water and the gentle breeze added another dimension.

These small paper houses with candles inside them, were made by refugees based on their old homes. They had names and handprints on them, and were set in a quite part of the gardens, and were very moving  in their quiet and simple understatedness.
Another favourite was this large lotus flower installation that was constructed out of bamboo poles and fabric around the Victorian fountain in the middle of the rose garden.

I didn't manage to take any half decent photos of the walk through a rainbow. As we went across a bridge we grabbed an umbrella and were wowed by the rainbow produced by laser lights and a fine mist of water.  It can be seen on this video of the event. My camera and I struggled to take good photos, here's a link to the local newspaper, which has some much better ones.

It was a good place to quell post-quake nerves. We only just got to experience the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that shook the centre of the country at 5.09. If we'd been better organised we would have already left the house and been on the road. But instead we were in the garage going out the door when it rattled us. We then had to go back inside to check the computer to find how big it was. The drive into Nelson was a bit tense as it took the radio station almost half an hour to let us know that Wellington was still standing. There must be lot of people with raw nerves in Wellington and Blenheim as the aftershocks have been very frequent, and are still going.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

adventure close to home

Yesterday I was doing my early morning read on the internet, when I was thought; why am I reading about what other people are getting up to on their holidays instead of getting out there and doing it?! So the two that were still in bed (our family is split 50/50 between early and late risers) were told to get up and get moving! Sometimes the chores just have to wait.
The night before we had friends over for dinner and we had talked about Harwoods Hole. I thought I'd been there with the hubby, but it turns out he'd never been. So it's been over 20 years since I last went. Maybe the drive had put me off,  because it seemed so far away then, but it only took us an hour to get to the carpark. Part of the road is quite windy as you drive from sea level to 790 metres at the top of the Takaka Hill quite quickly. The views are amazing, but we didn't stop, we were on a mission. From the turnoff to the parking area is 11 kilometres of narrow dirt road, it was not as bumpy as I'd remembered, but was quite slushy from the frost.
Yes the warning signs are needed. Maybe that's why we hadn't gone before as it's not a place to take young children. Maybe from 8 or 9 years up depending on how good they are at listening to their parents!  It was quite cold  in the beech forest, and we came across two frozen ponds. It was great fun to skim rocks across one, listening to the echoes as the stone hit the ice was magical. 
It is a 45 minute walk to Harwoods Hole, the first 30 minutes are very easy walking as the terrain is flat, then more limestone boulders start appearing and the vegetation became denser. The last scramble was quite hard as the rocks were icy, I went very s-l-o-w-l-y. It was almost an anticlimax as the kids expected a viewing platform and to be able to see into the hole, all 183 metres of it! But what you see is the rocks around it, it's 50 metres across, and you know there's a very deep hole in front of you, it's the deepest vertical shaft in NZ, and connects to a very long caving system. My memory from my previous trips was that you could get closer, and at least stand on flat ground, but that would have been in summer when you didn't need to worry about slipping.
After the anticlimax I was able to say the next bit is better! We went onto the Gorge Creek Lookout, it was a 10 minute steep hike up, until coming to this amazing area of very sharp limestone rocks. Over the edge is an incredible view down, down, down.
Unfortunately I didn't quite make it to the edge to look over! Twenty years ago I was slightly nimbler and my fear of heights can't have been messing with my head, so I was happy to pass the camera over to the kids. There's even a very rare photo of me, looking remarkably cheerful while sitting on razor sharp rocks. Thankfully they didn't take a photo of me crawling around them on all fours!

While it was nice to be in the warm sunshine, we were getting a bit hungry by this stage, so we set off back to the car and our lunch. Stopping again for more stone skipping on the frozen pond. The pies we had brought almost three hours earlier in Motueka were still slightly warm, and were delicious. As was the warm sun on our backs.
While having our lunch a tomtit was having his too, as he flew from fencepost to fencepost, occasionally swooping down to grab something from the grass. We also saw a South Island Robin, but I was unable to get a photo of it. We heard lots of bellbirds but unfortunately didn't see them.
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you might recognise this area, as the Canaan Downs was used in the filming. Don't ask me which bit because I must be one of the only people in NZ who hasn't watched the trilogy. Does that make me a philistine?
All this and we home by 3pm so there was still time to do some chores, including washing the car! Sometimes we have to remember that we can have an adventure close to home, that holidays don't need to involve getting on an aeroplane, and that the simplest things in life are often the best.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

a road trip & books

Last week hubby and I had a quick road trip down the West Coast and back to collect some meat from my brother's farm. We are lucky enough to know exactly where our meat comes from but not have to deal with any of the gory bits.
We left at 6.30 and were back by 3.00, which meant it was a quick trip with only an hours rest at the farm. As we travelled south the dawn greeted us and we drove past hills dusted in frost so thick it looked like snow. 
 Once on the West Coast it was a lovely sunny winter's day. I took all of these photos out of the car window, which is a bit hit and miss, but can give some nice surprises, as long as you ignore the crooked horizons.
 It was nice to spend some time together to talk and enjoy the amazing scenery.

My husband is a hard man to buy presents for - a task I dread almost as much as he dreads buying for me. So with his birthday looming I was clueless what to get him until I walked into a shop and saw Maddie. If you haven't come across Maddie the Coonhound before do go and check her out here or here. Theron takes the most amazing photos of his dog Maddie on a road trip across America. They are sure to bring a smile to even the most dedicated cat person.

A couple of days after his birthday I did find a book in an op shop that he really was pleased about. He'd told me years ago that there was a book on Wellington which had a photo of his dad in it, but didn't know what the title of the book was.

When I picked up this book by Ans Westra, I did go through it looking for my father-in-law, but couldn't see him. Still I brought the book as it was full of fantastic photos and was only $2. When I told hubby I'd found a book on Wellington, he said the photo was taken in front of a movie theatre, and straight away I knew I might have the right one. When I turned to the following page, there he was on the right looking straight at the camera.

When hubby had a look he was amazed to find his mum, aunty, uncle and grandma also. He'd never remembered that they were in the photo, as he'd only seen the photo once many years ago. His grandma is right on the edge of the photo next to his dad. And somewhere in the throng there would have been three very excited boys about to see a James Bond movie on a Saturday afternoon with their extended family, similar to the three hamming it up in the middle of the photo.
Ans Westra is a very well respected NZ photographer, there's a great interview with her here. This book on Wellington was published in 1976 and while I don't recognise all of the places, I do remember the times (just!). Here are a few of my favourite photos.
Meat workers picketing the offices of the company, with a bit of light reading to pass the time.
Two chaps enjoying a bit of a bogey.
Mowing lawns on steep sections in the city is still hard going, this guy has a rope to stop the lawnmower getting away. He was also working on his tan, something you don't see so often now with the Slip, Slop, Slap campaign against skin cancer.
Two girls with ice creams sharing a pair of wooden Japanese jandals, hence why they need walking sticks?
Love the kid wearing gumboots a few sizes too big, and the writing on the footpath.
A typical pub scene, I didn't started frequenting such fine establishments until the late 1980s.
These guys were getting ready for Friday night. The council was a bit lax on repairing the footpath in this street, or is it a construction site? That might explain the helmets too.
A typical backyard scene, rotary clothes line, wheelbarrow, trike. It could have been me on the left playing in the dirt.
Business men enjoying a beautiful lunchtime on the waterfront, one has taken his shoes off for extra sensory delight.
Sorry about the long post, I really should have done two, but hey I didn't - so hopefully you made it to here.