I left UK on May 19th for 10 months of freedom and exploration with a Round the World ticket. Will I find New Zealand as perfect as it was fifteen years ago? How has Australia changed? Will I learn any Spanish in S America?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Windy Wellington

Yes it is! It has done nothing but blow gales here for the last 4 days. But despite this I like Wellington -but let me qualify that with I like it as long as my tent hasnt blown away when I get back to the hostel. I t is looking alarmingly unstable and wobbles violently like an electrocuted jelly. And apparetnly it is not uncommon for tents to end up in neighbours gardens.'Bit worried about the wind AND rain combination. I think I may be sleeping in the car tonight.

Te Papa is the new waterfront museum and pride of Wellington - a huge and rambling museum - free admission -with a big art section which introduced me to some of the excellent art there is here - Rita ANgus and Colin McCahon. Tim Armstrong and photographer Anne Noble and self taught artist Jeffrey Harris - wonderful pencil line drawings .
In other sections there is an earthquake simulator similar to that in the London Earth Museum - it recreates the quake I experienced in 1987 at Hamner Springs which was 6.3 on the richter scale. Also an earthquake catcher - a chinese seismograph built in 132 AD it is a casing with a pendulum inside which when a quake hits knocks against a lever causing a dragon on the outside to disgorge a ball which drops into the open mouth of a toad sitting beneath indicating which direction the waves are travelling - ingenious and very beautiful!

I have just been to the National tattoo Museum - Maori moka - or body tattoos are different from other countries tattoos as the skin is actually cut into to make the tattoo. THere has been a big resurgence in tattooing traditionally or at least with traditional designs rather than techniques - and these Maori tattoos actually signify something deeper than western ideas of what should go on the body ( butterflies, tigers, fluffy horses DAD MUM) as they start to have tattoos at puberty starting on hte leg . The tattoos tell the life story of the person , which tribe htey belong to , how many sisters brothers etc whole mythology of spiral and natural based motifs. But I won't be getting one . But made me think of the film with Ewan McGregor in it -The Pillowbook - where he becomes a living book - and htere is another famous film - The illustrated Man - but I have never seen it so don't know whether its about tattoos and stories or not. The Maori explained their moka (full face moka reserved for only the very special;women traditionally wear moka on chin and neck) as signatures.

Last night took the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens to see free music concert in the soundshell - old 50s construction within the gardens - the Hairy Lollipops were wonderfully funky and very cool too was the lighting installation on the flower beds and palm trees.

Planning next move out of Wellington as time running short now - but this city with its inviting waterfront has a lot to offer , beautiful deco buildings and lovely wooden villas surrounded by green hills, trendy cafes and retro clothing shops, lots of museums and very lively arts scene.

Afghans and Muffins

New Zealanders are mad about muffins -( Note to Patricia WO :Have you seen the muffin man the muffin man have you seen the muffin man who lives in Drury Lane??) my favourites are the savoury ones - usually and most famously these are spinach and cheese. The best in Christchurch came from the Colombo St cafe which is still going after all these years.

This is the Takaka Wholemeal Cafe's recipe for cheese and avocado muffins:

3 cups white flour (!)
1 tbs baking pwoder
hlaf cup bran
half cup wheat germ
quarter cup flaky yeast
1 tsp paprika
half tsp slat
half tsp dried oregano
2cups grated cheese
1 large onion
1 ripe firm avocado
2 eggs,
50g butter or oil
2 cups mild
200g youghurt

Combine all dry ingredients chop onion and saute with oil ;beat eggs , milk and yoghurt
Add onion and diced avocado to dry mixture then melted butter and egg and yoghurt mixture.
Stir slowly until blended , do not overbeat.
Bake for 30-35 minutes at 170 degrees C.
Makes 6-12.


Afghan Biscuits -another Kiwi classic
Dee Hannah makes the best ever as well as Anzac biscuits. But Afghans are the best. Have nothing to do with dogs and I really can't guess why they are so named - lots of chocolate, cornflakes and a walnut on top of chocolate icing is the authentic way. Dee used Aunt Daisys cookbook an NZ institution - however everyone here cites the Edmonds cookbook as the bible.
The best commerically made Afghans I have had so far on this trip came from the Northcote shops bakery - for $1 you can buy a deliciously wicked and rich concoction the size of large bisucit tin lid. Batch made or packet Afghans are simply not worth buying.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Farewell Spit Tour

I shelled out for a trip from COllingwood to Farewell Spit with Farewell Spit Eco Tours which was established by two brothers just after the second world war. The company still uses converted troop carriers to take you up the beach and out onto the spit.
Black swans converge on the area to breed and feed on the eel grass - they are immigrants from Australia - some 30,000 live here now.
Big scalloping industry as well harvesting from the estuary flats to supply Japan and the US.
On the spit reserve we saw fur seals and were advised not to get between them and the sea - then they get scared and they are so big you would not want to tangle with them.
We scaled one of the dunes - thedark colouration patches in the sand are caused by moisture from underground streams seeping up - the wind then erodes the sand unevenly where it is wetter and denser giving rise to interesting shapes - must try and post another pic here when time allows.
At the top of the Spit is a lighthouse - now unmanned and a research station where the keepers used to live- with interesting collection of shells and Spit paraphenalia - old lighthouse lenses ,nautilus shells etc. No one is allowed onto the spit except in the tour - very unspoilt and wild - constantly changing shape and size though. Fairy terns and oyster catchers.

Stayed that night at Farewell Spit camp site - very few other people there but spoke with nice English couple - Quenie a landscape gardener and Ian- poured with rain during the night and I woke up with a start as my toes were wet - a bit of a leak at the feet end of the tent - ned more pegs! A few days later the beach opposite the campsite was filled with the beached pilot whales.

Return to Golden Bay - 13th December 2005.....

I drove over the hill from Nelson having driven most of the day from Havelock where I stayed at the Rutherford YHA and ate a very mediocre Mussel chowder. Nelson was throbbing with people and i recognised none of it.
I got more and more excited as I drove through Motueka, now grown from a few shops to a long sprawl of consumerist opportunity and strewn with Backpacker hostels full of youngsters on work visas picking kiwifruit apples and boysenberries. Traditional crops of hops and tobacco are grown less and less. From the bottom of Mot it is a long long haul up Takaka hill to the weird karst outcrops on top. A sign points off to the right towards Harwoods Hole. I haven't heard anyone really report anything about this place except that it is a big hole in the ground - a sink hole I suppose where water has collapsed the limstone. There are various lookouts as you snake down into the valley - views across the Takaka valley ( I made that up as not entirely sure what it's actually called )- in the right weather it reminds me strongly of the sacred valley in Peru- not quite the Andes but the hills are very big.
I didnt actually remember the approach and the land seemed very flat , I passed a sign to the ANatoki Valley which was vaguley reminiscent but didn't remember at all Paynes Ford which is where one of ALf's Imperial Army is based and where climbers camp in order to scale the limestone escarpment.
I stayed first night in Ok hostel would have been nicer but there were some surly and arrogant Austrian boys who took over the whole lounge .
the next night I went out for dinner with MOrag in Old Plain Road which I realised was the road to the farm where I used to take to prune Kiwifruit when last here.
Morag has just moved back from Nelson after 8 years away from the Bay and bought a house, rimu throughout and a decent sized garden. I bought her a purple asparagus plant for the garden.
I had set up camp earlier in the day at Pohara Beach Top 10 campsite and went for a swim further along the coast at the beautiful and pretty deserted Tata Tata Beach .
I also revisted the Grove -out at Clifton and remembered this place and some of the houses on the way. The A frame that had pumpkins outside and a goat grazing on the verge is now up for sale- as are many of the properties all around. the Grove - limestone hillocks have immense trees growing up on top of them as you squeeze through the narrow walkway beneath them - limestone rocks which are full of fossilised sea shells indicating that this whole area was once under the sea - there are weird shapes in the rocks, scalloped out holes and a nikau palm bent at right angles to get at the sun. I startled two stoats out of their lair but failed to get a picture of them in time - just enough to see the black tips of their tails disappearing into a pile of rocks. It was wonderful to have a car this time - last time I cycled to see some things but inevitably missed a lot and I think there are more signposts up now as well - certainly more businesses along the way - restaurants , the Sans Souci ( without worries) near Pohara which is made of adobe with turf roofing) and various galleries and alternative therapy places.

I drove down to Onekaka Wharf as well - and took lots of pictures - it will be interesting to see my original pics as I think there was much more of it still standing 18 years ago.

Driving out to Para Para I was startled by the distance from Takaka as I used to hitch in regularly to buy supplies when staying at the tipi - and there was also a long long walk from the turn off - must have been very fit!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Wharawheriki Beach

On Sunday 8th January Grant decided that we all could do with a bit of an outing so in my car and his Tribull Drums van we all took off , a party of 11 of us to the beach driving past Puponga where the pilot whales beached just before Christmas.

[There is a piece in the Wellington Dominion that suggests that the Japanese whalers currently hunting minke in the pacific for "scientific purposes" which everyone knows means eating - should hunt the pilot whales instead as they seem to be suicidal in their beachings. Latest theories are that beachings are either due to seismic activity or that sonar use disrupts whales' own directional apparatus. ]

This beach locally known as Freaky Beach , is wild and wonderful adn usually deserted. It takes a good 20 mintues or so to walk across farmland dotted with cabbage trees and across huge sand dunes to reach the beach . I had been there a few weeks before and the beach had a big fur seal every 20 metres or so and the tide was well in. Today it was right out and we could reach the caves around the corner. It was incredibly windy and we were literally sandblasted until we reached the respite of the caves . We ate a picnic lunch at the back of one cave , where Grant said a couple he knew had got married , everyone dressing in fancy dress and then swimming in the sea afterwards. Grant seemed disappointed that two dim shapes at the back of the cave turned out to be rocks and not seals.
As it was a bit cold in the cave Dan and NOme suggested a game of zombie tag outside in the sun before we lay down to a laughing meditation. One person plays the plague infected monkey who turns you into a zombie so you can only moan and move at zombie pace helping the monkey to trap the remaining people.
Laughing meditation - lay in a circle with heads all pointing in and Dan started to laugh to get everyone going. However I just couldn't get into it at all especially as Very and 18 yr old Caitlin from US were having over the top hysterics and tickling each other and Ananda beside me aged 9 was pretty much the same and turned to me and said this is boring as the hooting and guffawing kept on. When everyone stopped laughing and started to Ommm instead I at last started to find things funny.

We walked to the other side of the beach - Caitlin's straw hat blew off and Caroline who had been very quiet absorbed in a book much of the day burst into action and sprinted to recover it. Grant held firmly onto his pith helmet ( part of his new look) and Very's sarong kept threatening to fly off though that wouldn't bother Very much as he prefers to be au naturel where possible.

Grant Nome and Dan ventured into a little slip of a cave asI was taking photographs of seals surfing in on the incoming tide close to the rocks. I heard shouts and turned to see all 3 charging out of the cave shouting "Its after us!" and I briefly imagined a big green dragon but what emerged close on their heels was a large bull fur seal , much perturbed sand all over his muzzle making his large brown pool eyes pop out. Ha ha ! They had distrubed the poor creature's sleep and he wasn't happy - they really are quite big close up , move amazingly fast and have sharp teeth. APparently Nome had gone ahead - "no no seals in here - its just a big rock" - when the rock that was really a seal suddenly roared and started to chase them.

Amrita, Grant's partner showed up as we were leaving the beach with Macunda, 3, Grant's second son. We had fish and chips , kumara chips, rill ( shark- a lot of shark is sold under the guise of fish ) and blue cod ,hash browns and onion rings and lashings of tomato ketchup in Collingwood , sitting on the grass of the park in the town which at one time was proposed as the capital of New Zealand due to its size during the Gold Rush. But it burnt down three times and so was much diminished in size and by the third fire the gold was pretty much gone so it became a backwater.

Back at Happy Acre Caitlin and Nome got the fire baths going - 2 old enamel baths out in the garden built up with bricks so that a fire can be lit underneath to heat up the water -and you enjoy the warmth with a view of the stars - but there was a bit of a queue so I opted for a conventional shower.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pupu Springs

Also known as Te Waikoropupu Springs - the full Maori version - the springs are just outside of Takaka and along with Farewell Spit and the takaka hills made this area very sacred to the Maori.
I hadn't seen the springs last time being dependant on other people and hitching to get around but did see the impressive Pupu walkway which has now been extended into a full 2 and half hour walk.
But back to the springs- they are the largest freshwater springs in NZ and supposedly the clearest in the world. About 14000 litres of water a second is thrown up from a number of underground vents , one of which is called Dancing Sands as you can see the sand displaced by the power of the water pouring up from underground. the water comes from deep somewhere in the Takaka Hills. There is a weird DOC devised contraption which is a bit like an upside down telescope to allow you to see under the water - we spotted freshwater salmon as well. Bizzarely although you are not allowed to swim in the water as it is considered disrespectful to the Maori , I wasn't too tempted after feeling the temperature , you can drift dive - and we saw yellow and red blobs splashing away across the water.
Ducks seemed to love the water though and there were several different groups ( is there a special collective word for ducks?). Lots of gold digging went on around here and there are some terrible display boards with indicernible old photos which have been coloured in to make them more distinctive but are in fact a terrible mess and confusion. We came across some weird paper like water fungi covering the rocks further downstream and hoped it wasnt the dread didymo the latest biohazard threatening to kill all life in all NZ rivers. It came in on the boot of a fisherman they think. However at least NZ gets its own back with milfoil weed which is now thriving and causing damage in the US.
Didymo is so bad that we were all individually questoined by MAf workers before boarding the ferry for Wellington whether we had been in any forests or rivers recently. APparently didymo was known about 12 yrs ago but nothing much was done and now there is a real crisis on.

We drove and walked up to Pupu walkway -on a hill high above the Takaka plain - no one else there as about 8pm - Nome spotted and recovered a 1962 NZ florin in the water race which the walkway follows -must be a sign of great good luck I would think! Wonderful views of the Bay and wooden houses hidden deep and high in the bush , which I immediately coveted.

Takaka - Wholemeal Cafe etc

Although the turning is just over the Takaka River bridge just out of town it was only in the last few days of life on Happy Acre that I managed to get Dan and Nome into the car for a trip to see some local landmarks -including Pupu Springs. Having done a lot of weeding in the morning we all felt we had earned our buckwheat pancakes hummus and salad for the day and set off into Takaka for a quick ice cream stop at the Wholemeal Cafe. This has expanded about 500% since my last visit and is now housed in the old second hand shop which is a huge wooden building two stories high. the food in the cafe is good traditional fare not delicate but large portioned rich tasting and filling. They have things like fish pie, spinach bacon and cheese pinwheels, lasagnes, curries etc plus wonderful coffee properly made and fresh juices with magic spirulina in them. Plenty of seating some of it outside looking straight out on to the garden centre plants make this the only place to meet and eat in Takaka. They also make fresh fruit ice cream- eg boysenberry, raspberry, mixed berry. Everyone raves about it but mine tasted as if it needed more fruit and less cream. But I do love their fish pie and spirulina rush drink and will miss both. I have compeltely forgotten to mention the Dutch Apple cake which is heavenly.

The other must see in Takaka apart from the artisan outlets where both Nicola Wooding and Morag Dean have their work on show is Trash Palace - which actually promised more than it delivered on our visit. Basically a clothes op shop run on voluntary basis where you can buy old clothes shoes etc for $5 a plastic bag. This was of course heaven to Very who on another outing bought 20 soft toys and strung them in a banner across Grant's verandah as an art installation. The bone carvers studio is just round the corner in a peaceful little courtyard of little wooden studios with a pergola of kiwi fruit vines and old sofas out on the walkways. In Chris Bone's (not his original name)studio you can carve under his beady eye whale or cow bone or even stone to make your own fish hook or other maori design at the long bench. The walls are covered with cuttings and bits of bone and other vegetatoin, paua shells postcards, beaded bags dried flax pods - all sorts - hope to post the photo when i can afford the time on the computer - he rummaged in a drawer and produced some gold coral for us to see- very rare he said. He defintely up there with the characters in the GB list of players.

Also noteworthy on Commercial St are the cinema - which I am sad I never made it to this time - upstairs and often with not enough seating for everyone so they sit on the floor - in summer they have two shows a day and there was also an al fresco screening of Strictly Ballroom on the village green opposite and Sara McCreadys studio ( not there 18 years ago)- beautiful drawings of local places and scenes featuring native birds and agricultural elemnets ( I suppose I mean tractors) with Sara sitting in the front window painting on certain days.
I suppose I should also mention Fresh Choice or as some people call it ONly choice the huge new supermarket which opened a few days before I arrived and was discussed in the letters page of the local paper for weeks afterwards the majority feeling being that it is a good thing and makes more food available for cheaper price.

Very also showed us a gallery /workspace behind the main street near to a shop I dont like much - its a dance rave shop thingselling expensive fashion shoes and glowy things but you have to have something for the youf I suppose. Caters too for the annual raves dance parties which are now held on top of takaka hill. Phat 06 and Visions .
The gallery was wonderful with artists working and selling from their spaces in a large light airy light industrial but tasteful as old warehouse.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Founders Park Brewery, Nelson and Mussel Inn, Onekaka

Dan Nome and I set out for Founders Park which was just a short walk down the road from Izzy's house whilst Very went off to town to find a Green Party member who sells crystals.
It was a glorious day but before we had lunch we were given a tour of the organic brewery which is family owned and run - relatively new only in 7th year so far but they are finding it hard to keep up with the demand . It was on ly us on the tour as its a tiny brewery. The brewery has NZ bio organic certifcation, all ingredients complying. Only one grain , the pilsner is grown in NZ and the rest are imported from Germany as there is no grower yet who can supply constantly and consistently in NZ.They don't use sugar at all in the process but carbonise the beer at a later stage. There are only 2 fermenting vats. The whole operatoin takes place in just one shed and there is a bottling machine which only does 4 at a time and the labels are just gummed and applied with a rolling machine out the back which is the job no one wants to do. All of us suggested straight away that they get some Wwoofers in to help out in exchange for learning the art of brewing.
The brewery recycles bottles on principle even though it would be cheaper to use new ones. However they are now facing a bit of a prob lem with the bottle washing factory in Christchurch closing down - they didn't find out until they realised the pallets with used bottles for washing were going out but not coming back. One phone call confirmed the worst. All 3 of us were incredulous that there isnt more pressure on other bottled beer producers to recycle - you can still buy wooden crates of larger size bottles such as DB and Red Lion and on return recieve a deposit back. Immediately I thought Aha! business opportunity - but of course if one is closing down it's because they can't get more breweries to buy into recycling and that takes you back to the government who should be applying pressure in areas like this. Dan and Nome did a Wwoofing stint with Jeanette Fitzsimmons of the Green Party( they sent out Green Party Chrsitmas cards from the wellington parliamentary offices as part of their work and ate in the parliamentary canteen!) and are meeting up with her again at the Green Party picnic on the 21st Jan so have promised to raise the issue of bottles with her.
After the tour came the tasting and all this for just $5 each. The beer tasted so much better having seen how it was made and we sampled all four. Then we had MEAT pies for lunch - all home made and organic ingredients with pints of our favourite beer - red head for me. We spent the next hour talking aboutAmerica - and how a country so vast and with such diversity within states for eg poverty sticken Maine to rich New England could stay united for so long. The McGillicuddy line is that the American colonists plan is obviously a failure after 200 years and they should return to a monarchy as soon as possible. All the wealth is concentrated around the seaboard states and the interior on the whole is poor - sweeping generalisatoins but there you go. Most of the Americans living or visiting NZ are very distrustful of Bush and his cohorts though I didn't realise until recently that the US has a spy sattelite base here in Waihope which must ahve been allowed as a concession to NZ under Lange deciding to go nuclear free. It is only just coming out now in the newspapers how the US threatened NZ about this.
But back to beer:
Golden Bay now has it' s own brewery in the form of the Mussel Inn which is in Onekaka about 10 mintues drive from Happy Acre. The Mussel is a wonderful place fully in keeping with the Tarcadia way of life -( Grant helped build it he informed us) ; there are compost loos with magazine cuttings on the wall and a no mobile phones policy and plenty of live music nights. Quite a few beers are brewed there and they cannot make enough to bottle it so you have to drink it there - the clear head above all the rest is the star beer Captain Cook's Manuka Beer , Captain Cooker for short. Though there is also a golden goose and an oxen ale and the homemade lemonade is also stupendous. However I have also been enjoying the occassional Monteiths Summer Ale - only made in the summer months which is a bit spicy but very refreshing and no horrid aftertaste - it says on the label brewed in the tradition of 19th C beers. Wine in NZ is very expensive though the Duke of Wellington ( who I will meet up with tomorrow) should be able to recommend some good vintages as that is what he does for a living.


Now in Wellington, which is a lovely city , full of life cinemas and art - International Festival starts here in feb with a fringe alongside it.
I saw King Kong, another labour of love for Peter Jackson which I enjoyed immensely. I had dropped of Very at the home of another McGillicuddy , Barry , and bowed out of a party as I felt I had just had about all the excitement I could take even though it meant I would miss out on a chance to talk to Lily Tomato , the leader of Aunt Fanny's Sewing Circle and a reunion with the Duke of Wellington in his home town having recently returned from Morris dancing around the south island. I have been wearing my smart town outfit ( pink silk jumper and shaped trousers which Lisa helped me find - ) and Very in a generous and kindly gesture gifted me an amber necklace which goes very well with the ensemble.
It was actually a great relief to be on my own and make my way to the cinema through the rainy streets after some non vegan food.
When I got back to my hostel where I had pitched my tent earlier I found it completely in a state of collapse. Windy Wellington was really living up to its name and I had to relocate between some bushes and managed to sleep though the sound of heavy rain woke me shortly after 5am. However today - Saturday 14th - it is lovely with just a slight breeze. I will see another film tonight.
Wellington is full of wonderful deco and older buildings - a very good museum called Te papa which I will visit tomorrow. Cities are always expensive and I will try to get away by Monday to make my way up coast to Taranaki/Ne wPlymouth which sounds like my cup of tea.
It is tempting to think I could revist the south island for the Green Party Picnic at Waihope where dan and Nome will be but I think I just have to keep moving slowly north now or I really will end up staying here and using far too much money.

I did look at a property in Golden Bay , 7 k out of Collingwood , a 1900s 4 bed villa ,in good condition, made all of native rimu -outbuildings & with 10 hectares of land , 400 fruit and nut trees,m 2 mature walnuts already mature, a small wood and pasture with lots of potential -for growing to make an income. Currently the owner is making @$20k pa from sale of seedlings grown in poly houses though there is enormous potential to grow a lot more. On good flat alluvial soil surrounded by impressive mountains. All for $395k NZ. A bargain. Grant knows the people, one of whom i s from the Midlands. I am /was sorely tempted. Ive just checked London house prices and htey look like they have slipped a bit. It would be a really close thing to buy though it could be done. But would be a very close thing and I would need to recruit lodgers and a wwoofing workforce tout suite.It somehow lacked a complete wow factor for me too and made me think of Uk and everyone there. Hard decisions to make. And I still want to see China.

Raising the Man plus an exodus from Golden Bay

Kiwiburn ( there must be a better name for it than this but it is supposed to be a regional version of the US Burning Man festival in Nevada) left all of us who had volunteered to help Grant pretty exhausted. Over a period of six or seven days we had cleared gorse covered land, built a bamboo man over 30ft tall, dug latrines set up tents and helped collect koha (donatoins) on the gate, performed in ceremonies in clay paint and stood around roaring bonfires under unrelenting rain , made bamboo structures and eaten endless rounds of peanut butter sandwiches. Dan and Nome , fellow Wwoofers, desgined and built a water woman pond as we all felt that without a 'she' he was rather unbalanced.
My tent withstood the torrents that came down on the very day the man was to be torched ( this was interpreted as the water woman demanding her own day - everybody duly got into hte spirit of Glastonbury and covered themselves in mud around the fire though I just took pictures) but we were allowed an extra day by the community whose land we were on and with 20 litres of kerosene the burn was unaffected though the man toppled very quickly. His bamboo frame was stuffed with newspaper and left over paper swords from the takaka battle and covered in cheesecloth. .
Raising the man from the ground to standing postion took place over a few nail biting hours thenight before the official start of the event . Everyone forgot for those hours the horrid & vile sandflies which consumed us, though particularly me, most of the day( though baby oil and dettol mixture DOES work if you dont mind being very unattracitve to everyone and everything else) and it took 24 people ( I posoitned myself on a ladder to take photos) the first raise gave rise to a terrific crack which was the torso pulling away from the spinal cord.( bamboo lashed together) and the body was carefully nd promptly lowered again for a rethink A good straight and more substantial pole was found and this did the trick - the second raise was successful and an American sailor by trade co ordinated the raise and the tethering with wires. This did the trick and the man withstood howling gales which came roaring down the beautiful Anatoki valley but devastated, we later learnt, the east coast from Kaikoura to Christchurch.

NOt as many people as was expected acutally attended in the end perhaps due to the very mixed weather - there were just over 200 or so , a very modest affair really which made it seem much more like a big party than a big festival, much more intimate.
After a day or so of clean up , dismantling the bamboo sound stage and a yurt it was time to think about leaving.

I took myself off one afternoon to visit Martin Milligan in his jewellry studio up the Para Para Road where I had lived 18 years ago in a tepee for about 4 weeks and he recognised me too which is good. Look at his website to see his jewellry and also Friths work I think on www.rinopai.com I tried adding this as one of the links on my main page but the blog is ignoring my template rewrite.
I remembered that Martin had just bought some land as I was leaving and was very excited about having somewhere of his own. It has been hard building up a business from scratch but now he has a beautiful house with a fantastic view over the Para Para inlet and a studio and a partner, Frith Wilkinson who is an artist and young son. Martin told me about a swimming hole furhter down the road which I never found before probably beacuse it had been winter then - and I swam alone in the Para Para - which still has gold in it if you pan for it - surrounded by native bush and the song of tuis.

I have now managed to catch up with just about everyone I knew in the Bay except Cirrus who I know is living in Nelson but a search through the phone directory didn't give me a contact nor did google work on this one . Every single person too apart from Cirrus has stayed in the Bay and is now either a jeweller, musician or artist.

Dan and Nome caught a lift with me and helped out with petrol too as we headed to Nelson. Mr Impressive and Caroline went ahead and we caught up with them at Jester House, just over the Motueka Inlet.
However I was determined to see below Takaka Hill - On the cool and often misty summit which is riddled with caves there is one cave which you can pay to see - just above the marble quarry we paid and entrance fee and entered a huge cavern which has galleys with bones of moa and kiwis who fell into holes in the ground and were trapped . The name of the discoverer of the cave , a 17 year old surveyor from London is inscribed on one of the stalactites along with countless other visitors in elegant Victorian script.

We had coffee at Jester House , home to another of the McGillicuddy clan who has a cafe and guesthouse ( shaped like a boot) and home there .his son Pip was out rehearsing a Shapkespeare play but we had hoped to see him having met him at KiwiBurn adn hte battle of Takaka as he is also of course part of the Clan McGilliccuddy. Mr Impressive, clad in frock and cloak showed us around , waving his staff, which is called Stephen, regally and greeting everyone he met( Lisa says he looks more Unusual than Impressive) gardens filled with sculpture, art, a maze, orchards, and a small round house inevitably compared to a hobbit hole built of rammed earth with a grass roof which functions as an artists studio for .............

Another hour driving and we in convoy reached Nelson - the rush hour traffic snailing out - the other way thankfully - only to find all the backpacker hostels full. Very tried to make contact with a friendly McGillicuddy Greg who lives and works in Nelson but we had no reply- . We finally hit on the idea of visiting Izzy, the Californian who visted Happy Acre at Christmas and New Year and found his house pretty quickly. He came home to find all 5 of us waiting on his porch but was unperturbed and seemed in fact overjoyed to have us invade him. We set up tents on his back lawn , went down a storm with a prospective flat mate who came to see the house ( and is moving in so we didnt put her off) and admired his lovely house which is a period villa with rimu wood floors with old claw foot bath and large clutter free rooms which wuickly became covered in Very's voluminous' luggage'. Installed we headed out to Nelson to eat and met Greg in the Victorian Rose where I shared a huge meat filled plate of nachos with Very ( which was actually wonderful after our pretty much 100% vegan diets). We walked through the botanic gardens which stay open at night - deserted and quiet - with trees of great girth spotlit - Japanese redwoods - and a lake full of huge eels who flipped over and smelt the air as we walked over the little wooden bridge.
Dan Nome and I all in agreement to stay 2 nights and next day after making a communal breakfast we 3 went to Founders park for a tour of Founders Brewery and lunch.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Kiwiburn, Anatoki Valley 2-5th Jan 06

Some pictures from Kiwiburn 2006 a very small gathering of about 200 people organised largely by Grant - as wwoofers we were heavily involved in thewhole thing from making the man out of bamboo and cheesecloth to raising him to performing the ceremony to burn him and less glamorous jobs such as digging a urinal trench.I made front page of the Nelson Mail in full claypaint! More commentary to follow.
Pics: Festival goers, Very Impressive ( his legal name) shaman and artiste, the Man shortly after being tethered with wire guy ropes, me just before the torch ceremony, a reveller covered in mud the night the burn was abandoned due to a whole day of unrelenting rain, a light installation on the blackened burnt trunks of gorse, lighting the man, Grants son Ananda setting the rush boat containing ashes of last years man afloat.

the last 3 weeks have just been the most exhausting but also exhilarating time. From working in Grant's garden at Happy Acre on state highway 60 about 10 mintues drive out of Takaka fellow wwoofers( WWoof = Willing workers on organic farms) Dan &Nome ( from Peterborough New Hampshire, USA)and I have been given some very untraditional wwoofing experiences. One of these was helping Grant set up for the annual Kiwiburn festival which was held this year on Rainbow community land up in the anatoki valley - the most beautiful backdrop you could imagine with the anatoki river running nearby and nikau palms and treeferns and regenerating native bush stretching up the hills of the valley to mountains further back which on one morming were dusted with snow .
To be continued.