Posts Tagged ‘new zealand’

Farm Life

March 16, 2013

sheephaymakingnz gothic

A trip to the family property in Waikouaiti, just outside Dunedin, usually involves hanging out with the sheep and chickens and a bit of hard work – usually gardening or helping with the sheep.  This trip both my sister and I were home and helped with the end of summer haymaking.  Our father cut the grass using his vintage tractor, and we then spent three days raking and turning the hay.  I will always remember the smell of the grass drying in the sun and whenever I close my eyes all I see are Dorothy Norman’s photos of grass.


Katiki Point

March 14, 2013

moeraki lighthouse

Many people visiting New Zealand skip Coastal Otago for the grand mountainous splendor of Mackenzie Country and Central Otago, but from the Waitaki down to the Catlins is one of my favourite parts of the South Island.  It’s only a five hour drive from Christchurch to Dunedin, and there are plenty of places to stop on the way.

One of the best places to visit is Moeraki, but don’t just go see the Moeraki Boulders and eat a delicious lunch at Fleurs Cafe.  One of Moeraki’s best kept secrets is Katiki Point – a short cliff top walk with beautiful ocean views and lots of wildlife.

From Moeraki town center, drive down Lighthouse Road.  There is a public carpark at the lighthouse.  Walk from here through the long grass and fields towards the point.  Yellow Eyed Penguins and Blue Penguins do nest here, so try and keep your voices low and watch out for holes in the path (Little Blues often build their nest in abandoned rabbit holes).  You can often see Yellow Eyed Penguins on the beach, or standing on the hills around the beach moulting.  There is also a reasonable sized seal colony here and huge numbers of NZ Shags (Cormorants).

Katiki point is also the site of an old Maori Pa.  If you go at low tide you can walk over the rocks to the pa site.

Girl in New Zealand

February 15, 2013


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.

How to travel New Zealand for free

September 3, 2012

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.

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Girl in Papatowai

January 8, 2012

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.

papatowai estuary

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.

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Girl in Dunedin

April 15, 2011

Dave and Horse, Waikouaiti

I went to New Zealand in February to visit my parents, who live just north of Dunedin in a small town called Waikouaiti.I was actually a pretty illfated trip – we experienced both illness and earthquakes. But it was so wonderful being able to show Dave places that I love (like Waikouaiti, Papatowai in the Catlins and rural Canterbury). We toured giant early 20th century power stations, ate a delicious meal sourced locally in the Waitaki region, and at the end of our trip were able to check in on my best friend Kathryn who lives in Lyttelton and lost her house in the Christchurch earthquake.

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.

Jenn and Ignatius

Dave and Ignatius

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.


January 28, 2010

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.

Girl in Lyttelton

December 23, 2009

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.