Here is the map and today is March 3rd, so you’ll realise that quite some time and kilometres have elapsed since we began our Odyssey 2017 on January 29th when we left Wellington on the Kaitaki, with our friend Karen, here on holiday from Denmark.
It wasn’t until I received an email from my friend Bev Hoskings yesterday inviting me to an important conversation called ‘What’s in the news?’ that I’d like to attend in Wellington on Monday 13th March and who asked me if I was writing a blog that I thought I could maybe use these long neglected pages again. Rather than bore you with a blow by blow description of ‘thus far,’ I’ve posted the map and will share a collage of photos as well as some reflections I started writing on February 12th and have added to in spare moments since and then attempt to be more regular.
Reflections Beside Lake Hawea
I am not good at the everyday diary entry thing, the more relaxed I get the less inclined I am to sit and ‘do’ anything except perhaps knitting which I can tag onto other activities such as sitting in our housebus as Michael drives us along. Life becomes focussed on showers, washing, food preparation, eating, admiring the spectacular lakes, sea and mountain views and people watching.
Mikey keeps track of where we are in the landscape on his calendar: from Wellington across the Cook Strait to Picton, up to Blenheim and thence to Barrytown Beach, onwards to Greymouth, Lake Brunner by the 4th to meet his friends Rick and Te Awhina on the 5th… to Greymouth where, with some regret, we left our dear friend Karen, who’d travelled with us this far, before going on to Okarito. …he’s always saving the day.
Here, beside Lake Hawea , watching the flash of his line across the inlet as he ‘walks the edge,’ listening to a distressed lamb calling somewhere out of sight and feeling small among the giant alps that surround us, I am at last jotting memories.
As Michael said this morning: ‘the landscape has begun to filter our ‘inner scapes’ and we have begun meandering after those first 8-9 days focussed on destinations and meetings. They were great days full of talk, talk and talk of the intimate and frivolous kind although somewhat clouded by tension as Michael traversed a number of those steep learning curves that go with driving a 7.5 metre housebus; how to back into small spaces in the bus when. I, despite my best efforts, failed to follow instructions, what did all those funny noises mean and should he worry about them, was everything that should be, turned off when we left one place for another and so on.
Once alone, we settled into our usual patterns of ease and I began to talk to my friend about meandering through the landscape rather than choosing destinations and going there. At the time we were at Okarito, a village of 28 permanent residents beside the largest lagoon in Aotearoa, a haven for birds of all kinds… including the Kotuku or white heron and the Kiwi. Have a look at this link to see more:http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/west-coast/places/okarito-area/
It was cold and wet as we arrived and the camp was muddy. So we were thrilled the following day when the sun arrived and stayed for the rest of our visit.
I loved the generous and sustainably conscious people we met who lived there. They were ‘doing all they could’ to contribute to their beautiful environment.
They’d assisted the Dept. of Conversation in their Kiwi release programme for some years, keeping an eye on the predators and the nests. Now that Doc’s funding and resources have been cut they are continuing voluntarily, researching and recording predators, and the health of the bird co-owner of a flat bottomed boat who took me for a tour of the lagoon, as he showed me the new traps they were trying : ‘Twenty-eight people is a drop in the ocean but you have to try, don’t you? You have to feel you have done your bit.’ Swade and his partner Paula own Okarito Tours and a tour around the lagoon with Swade is like tuition in history, geology, and the lives of birds and the native forest. They are humble people, determined to save what they can of their environment and generous enough to take this ‘lady of a certain age’ with a bad shoulder that precluded paddling, out on the lagoon alone when they weren’t running a tour to meet up with her husband who was kayaking.
They were warm, friendly and a conversation with Paula uncovered many shared loves and efforts to save our wildlife, including our longfin eels. Like many South Island towns Okarito also has a colourful gold panning past, The trip was truly from the ocean to the rainforest and words cannot describe the peace and beauty.
This week we celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary in Gore whilst staying at the Racecourse courtesy of the Racing Club and the NZMC Assn. We ate two dozen of the ‘first day’ Bluff oysters and drank Daniel Le Brun and looked back over the many blessings we have shared throughout our time together. ‘This is definitely the life,’ as a very dear friend of our used to say often.
Today, I am sitting in The Postmaster Bakery drinking a Coconut milk latte and using their free wi-fi to post this blog. Of course I’ve left out lots of places and people we’ve met but maybe they’ll come out in other reflections.