skipper’s canyon

Skipper’s Canyon, outside Arrowtown, NZ. Jaw-dropping scenery to greet those who brave the drive…






cook strait in a southerly

With a major deadline to meet at work, the last couple of weeks have been pretty intense.  Quite often this meant getting up at 5:30 AM, catching the very first bus into the city, and one of the last buses home at night.

Friday, 4pm. One rather long written report complete. Time for some rest!

Saturday morning I woke Eilidh, put us in a taxi, and whisked away to the ferry terminal. We pulled out of Wellington on the Santa Regina, heading toward Picton, straight into a roaring southerly.

My experience with inter-island ferry trips so far had been in calm conditions and I had been keen to experience the notorious Cook Strait in all its glory. Well, one goal can be ticked off the list! Next time, a calm sailing would be very acceptable.

By “the Cook Strait in all its glory” – I mean like on this video. Ours was tame in comparison. No fender benders, and most of breakfast stayed in the stomach where it belongs.

What a relief to come into the sheltered Marlborough Sounds…

The secret to avoid queasiness: curl up on a couch, stay warm and avoid moving!

Looking a little rough around the edges…

In port.

new year in june – catch up

It’s nearly the middle of winter here. What to do with those summer photos that are hibernating on my desktop? Post them!

Early January – trip to Matiu/Somes Island, out in the middle of Wellington Harbor.

My mother and Sonia.

Then…Wellington was behind us…for a while.

Eilidh, me, mom, and dad took a road trip north.

Stonehenge Aotearoa – near Carterton. We visited this modern-day stonehenge (not a replica of the famous one in England). It’s been built specifically for its location in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Like the original one, it’s an astronomical observatory (to use modern big words). The alignment of the stones indicates certain important times and seasons. I was quite impressed.

(photo borrowed from Stonehenge Aotearoa website)

Stood in heavy surf at the beach in Napier, felt the weight of the water pulling and pushing on the pebbly beach, resisted its greedy grasp. Sorted through some tangled feelings and pushed away the night’s chill with a warming walk with Eilidh up Bluff Hill.

Stayed at Wally’s Backpackers which had the novel “petri-dish” style of decor in the shared kitchen. I had nearly succumbed to the fearsome ranks of sluggish well-fed houseflies when the site manager boldly entered the scene of battle and fearlessly dispensed his can of bug killer…directly above my meal preparations. Not sure if he killed any flies, but he certainly killed the possibility of any future visits from me!

Big push the next day, driving all the way to Auckland. Broken by a pleasant afternoon tea at Zealong near Hamilton. A tea plantation – in New Zealand? Yes.

Sat outdoors overlooking the fields, resting our car-weary backsides, and chatting. I believe all four would agree – the experience was worth the bill of $8 per cup of oolong tea.

For successful green or oolong tea, brew for 1 minute max. Use whole leaves (not tea bags). It makes a huge difference. And the tea leaves can be re-used many times.

Overnight with our Aucklandish friends, then an emotional farewell from my parents (as such things do tend to be). A parting of says – them squeezing into a metal tube and catapulting over the Pacific to home, us skimming over the water to an exotic location.

Great Barrier Island.

One week on a rugged island with uncrowded beaches (but then again, are NZ beaches ever crowded?), stunning clear water, racous kakas, a waterfront tent site, long hours of rest, and time with friends. A place of restoration – in more than one way. 

The cafe in Okiwi (I forget the name, but hey, it’s not like you could miss it) earns a high recommendation.


rambles part 2

From Nelson it was off to the west coast to Charleston. We made our home base for a few days at Charleston Motor Camp, where my parents made friends with everyone in the camp! (That’s only a slight exaggeration.)

At Punakaiki we walked the Punakaiki River – Pororari River loop track, and came across this spot on the track with stunning natural light.

To me these photos of Eilidh are deeply meaningful. They reflect the confidence and inner freedom that has been growing in her, as she is coming to know herself outside of the expectations of herself and others. They show the beauty and maturity that I see developing in her character. It is inspiring to watch these changes.

Walking back along the Punakaiki River (last year‘s trip saw us down this way on a horse trek):

Truman Beach sea cave:

Taking flight.

And…sunset over the Tasman Sea.

Next day, back at the motor camp – West Coast NZ Wind Technology:

On the walkway to the Cape Foulwind seal colony: Obey the sign!

rambles part 1

My parents came to visit from the States, so the four of us went off on a good Kiwi Summer Holiday.

On the ferry from Wellington to Picton:

My mother eating something on the ferry (immediately afterward she said “David!” and covered her face…because she doesn’t like candid photos. 😉 But I do.

And while we are doing candids, here’s one of Eilidh:

And me!

An expedition to the Shand’s farm in the Marlborough Sounds involved three days of visits, good food, sea fishing, a first introduction to scuba diving (thanks Cat!), swimming, and a bonus day because of a massive rainstorm and gale that swept through the area, flooding the roads and downing trees. I don’t have any photos from that time, but Eilidh took some good ones, maybe she will be kind enough to share them on her blog.

Another candid, this one of my dad, in Nelson I think.