Tomorrow morning I am off to New Zealand for 10 days to visit my family and all my favourite coastal places. There will be small port towns (Lyttelton), delicious food (Oamaru and Moeraki), estuary walks (Waikouaiti), and cliff walks up and down the coast. I will be hanging out with sheep, and I may even get to milk them. If the weather is good I’ll help my parents make hay. If the weather is bad I’ll sit in the sunroom with Ben the cat and watch the rain on the glass.
Posts Tagged ‘new zealand’
New Zealand is a beautiful shape. It’s not called the land of the long white cloud for nothing. As NZ Poet Cilla McQueen described it, it’s just a long green spine, sticking out of the ocean. The country is no longer than 15 hours drive from tip to tail of each island, and only 6 hours across. As well as offering you beaches and mountains in the same day, it’s this geographical fact that can help you stretch your travel budget while in Aotearoa.
The key piece of knowledge to have about New Zealand is that most visitors travel from North to South.
All you need to do to relocate rental cars the length of the country for free is travel in the reverse direction.
One of my favourite places in the entire world is a place called Papatowai in the Catlins, south of Dunedin. We spent Easters there when I was a child, and I still love to visit whenever I go back to New Zealand.
This part of the South Island coast has rock pools and tide pools, an estuary that drains out at low tide, South Island Rata that hang low over the sand and old growth Totara. It’s one of those places that you go to stay and not leave. Just get out your map, drawn a circle around where you are staying and go out explore a very small part of the world – climb your way around rock pools, walk up and down the coast, wander across the estuary in zig zags like the spoon bills that live there, sit inside by the fire. Eat good food, go to sleep and then get up and do it all again.
Waikouaiti is a beautiful place. My parents moved there a few years ago, and now whenever I visit I get to explore the area in microcosm detail. You know I love a rural microcosm. This trip I discovered a new walk, from town to my parents place via a causeway over the estuary.
Friends came out to Waikouaiti and we ate a lot of food on a somewhat rainy day (picnic-style) in my parent’s living room, and then walked up to Matanaka. But there was also visiting a plenty – my friends Becs and John in Karitane, Kirstyn in her beautiful apartment overlooking the main street in Port Chalmers, and my oldest friend Amy at her family home in Abbotsford.
We had such a great time with Amy – eating onigiri (my new favourite Japanese snack), listening to the best music of the second half of the twentieth century (Amy made a musical compilation for her Dad for his 60th birthday, one song for every year he has been alive – such difficult and personal choices to make, but such a great musical conversation between father and daughter… I loved it!), and playing trivial pursuit until 2am. Amy’s family has a beautiful dog called Ignatius, who I now look forward to visiting every time I go back to Dunedin. He is one special dog. And Dunedin is one special place. I like that my first home is still such a wonderful place to visit.
These are some of the photos that I took with my pentax when I was home in Dunedin over Christmas.
I had never been to my parents’ new place at Waikouaiti before, but it feels so much like home that I may as well have spent much of my life there. It is so much like our old bach near Reefton, on the West Coast – except with an awesome permaculture garden.
I didn’t realise how lovely it would be to be so close to cliffs and the sea. I love that there is a whole new place for me to discover in microcosm detail, until I know all the trees and all the roads… all the little special places and how to get to them. There is an entire stretch of coast just waiting for me to go back and explore it.
I miss how peaceful and grounding that place is already.
I come visit my friend Kathryn in Christchurch from Sydney about once a year. Each time that I visit she has a new place to live, and they are all lovely.
This latest is my favourite, though. She has moved to Lyttelton, a little port town east of Christchurch that has an air of rebellion and new growth that carries within it a certain timelessness. It reminds me of Dunedin, if Dunedin were taken and put in a bag and shook all around and then dumped back down on the earth again. Same harbour, same volcanic hills, same port, same little wooden villas – but it is all facing East instead of North.
There are small and insignificant things that keep reminding me that I am at home: a full sky brimming with stars, the smell of mud on the gravel drive in the morning, bellbirds calling. I randomly ran into an old friend in a cafe my first morning in Lyttelton – she used to live in Dunedin. New Zealand is just small enough to be full of such strange connections and passing coincidences.
It has been a very nice couple of days, rummaging through vintage stores and antique shops, talking and drinking and eating well. but it has been busy. I arrived down in Dunedin last night, and now it is time to relax.