Tag Archives: holiday

Catch up on the blog

The rhythms of the normal routines here have been altered in the past 10 days. We headed to Hawkes Bay to visit the oldest member of the family as he celebrated his 86th birthday earlier in August.

I wrote a list of things to take in the hope that I would not forget to pack vital items. The one thing I did not pack was the camera. I was very disappointed as I wanted to get some photos of the wide, expansive vistas of the Heretaunga Plains. The landscape there is so different to my usual views here at home.

Fortunately one of the family did take a camera and so I have a photo of the emus that lived next door to the lovely, peaceful, comfortable, boutique self-contained accommodation we rented here.

Did you know that Emus can make a deep booming noise? They don’t sleep for long periods of time so that accounts for me hearing them “boom” at 4.15am. Fortunately the booming was short-lived.

The accommodation is part of a small life-style block on the outskirts of Hastings and the owners have a menagerie of different birds and animals. Part of our rent included these fresh free-range bantam eggs.

We always buy honey from Arataki Honey House when we visit Havelock North. Look at this golden goodness. We take a 6kg bucket and get that refilled at the Honey house every 6 months. This small jar was a gift.

While at Arataki I picked up two brochures. One provides ideas for plants to have in the garden to attract honey bees. I intend to plant some marigolds when the rain eventually stops falling here, in the hope that more bees will visit.

The other brochure details all the new cycle tracks in the Hastings/Napier area. Locals are busy exploring and enjoying these tracks and which will appeal greatly to tourists visiting this special and beautiful part of the country.

Cool Kokako

I am particularly fond of our native North Island Kokako and its beautiful fluting song. Here is the brief information that our Department of Conservation provides about the Kokako on its website:

“North Island kōkako

The kōkako belongs to the endemic New Zealand wattlebirds (Callaeidae), an ancient family of birds which includes the North and South Island saddleback and the extinct huia.
The kōkako is the only member of its family still surviving on the mainland. A dark bluish-grey bird with a long tail and short wings, it has a pair of brightly coloured, fleshy “wattles” extending from either side of its gape to meet below the neck.
The North Island kōkako has blue wattles, while the South Island kōkako has orange or yellow wattles. The bird is not particularly good at flying and prefers to use its powerful legs to leap and run through the forest.”
My earlier experience of a Kokako in the wild was when I visited Kapiti Island (a wildlife sanctuary) and as I trudged up the steep terrain that day I was stopped in my tracks by the unique melodious song coming from far across the gully. Prior to that I had only heard recordings of this lovely song.

So I was delighted to discover that there was a Kokako in captivity at Pukaha, Mt Bruce, when we visited there recently. This bird was recovered from the wild after it was blown out of its nest as a young fledgling and was hand reared. It is the only one in captivity and must remain in an aviary in order to survive.

Kokako at Mt Bruce

It was such a privilege to stand so close to a Kokako and to watch its movements, to hear it whistle (it had learnt to wolf whistle sadly while being hand reared) and to see its lovely plumage. With so much human contact this Kokako had not learnt to sing its natural song. However in terms of educating people this friendly, healthy bird has much to offer in terms of promoting programmes to ensure the species does not become extinct.

Kokako print

My Dad taught me so much about the native bush and the birds and wildlife in our country and for that I am very grateful. I just wish he had lived longer to see the results of programmes and sanctuaries that mean we get to see so many more of our native birds, many of whom have been on the endangered species list for a long time.

Being with the wildlife

On our recent short holiday, which now feels as if it happened a long time ago, one of the highlights for me was a visit to Pukaha, Mt Bruce. This is a wildlife centre for threatened species on the state highway north of Masterton.
www.pukaha.org.nz

Going into the NZ native bush is something that I love to do and to see our wonderful, unique native birds in their natural environment brings me great joy. So visiting Pukaha was a place I eagerly anticipated visiting.

I was not disappointed. The day was clear and sunny and the bush provided some shelter from any wind that was blowing. I could hear small birds tweeting above us and looking up into the canopy I could see some small white headed birds. We had been given a map of the centre and a guide to birds in the bush when we paid the admission, so I was able to establish that these birds were named “Whiteheads”. Their Maori name is much prettier and suits them nicely – Popokatea. They were in groups and cheeped and chattered as they fed on tiny insects amongst the leaves.

I was constantly aware of the heavy wing beats of our native pigeon, the Kereru. A staff member told me that something in the bush that the Kereru liked to eat had come into season which accounted for the numbers we saw or heard fly over our heads.

Kereru in a Kowhai tree at Pukaha, August 2011

I also heard the noisy squawks and screeches of our native Kaka, a species of parrot who were returned to this area in 1996. The great news was that numbers of Kaka had increased so much in the centre that they now all flew freely apart from two kept in an aviary due to past injuries. This pair in their aviary was lively and highly entertaining and was readily accessible for educational purposes. I will post more about the Kakas and my remarkable and memorable experience with some of them.

Cheeky, inquisitive Kaka and our camera case

We were privileged to interact with a staff member as she fed the group of Long fin eels that live in the clear, fast running water of the Bruce stream. I knew a little about these eels after viewing the films about the Pauatahanui Inlet that I posted about here. However their special story warrants a separate post too.

Our national bird the Kiwi has its own house in the bush and once our eyes grew accustomed to the dark we all enjoyed watching him forage for food and run about, at some speed at times, in his enclosure. Kiwis are endangered in the wild and much is being done to ensure this unique species is kept alive and numbers increased. Pukaha is not a predator free centre so Kiwi must be kept in the enclosure.

Within the Kiwi house we were also able to search for and find native skinks and geckos in their temperature controlled displays, native fresh water crayfish (or crawlies as I knew them in my childhood) and view the incubators that they use to hatch Kiwi eggs.

Other extraordinary birds I saw that I will post about separately were the Kokako and the Takahe and I need to write about the magical energy I felt amongst the stand of Californian Redwoods that is also part of this wonderful centre.

Californian Redwoods

While much has happened since we visited Pukaha I am still enjoying remembering what I saw there and I have many photos that chronicle this special experience.

Water and walking

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post we stayed in a cottage just out of Masterton, close to Henley Lake. This fresh water lake is extensive and the surrounding park area has various paths to follow.

You can see from the photo that the day was glorious. It was warm, sunny and calm that afternoon. Sometimes in my country the blue sky has a dramatic intensity to it and a vastness that makes me feel like a very small dot in the universe. It was one of those days as we walked for an hour enjoying the large numbers of waterfowl, birds and the soothing properties of the water around us.

There is evidence on some of the paths indicating that regenerative planting has been done with more planned.
My time here in such a beautiful environment certainly eased the stress and busyness I had been feeling as I packed to leave for our holiday.

Monday catch up

So what has been going on in my ordinary world? The past two weeks have certainly offered some very extraordinary times as well as the ordinary and mundane.
 From the evening of Sunday 14th August until Tuesday 16th August we experienced 3 dramatic snowfalls. Snow fell in our garden overnight in 1995 but it is extreme weather that brings it this close to sea level. This event was at the high end of extreme and the snow lay in patches on the local hills a week later.
 Once the snow clouds had moved on, the rain clouds arrived on the back of freezing gale force winds and it rained almost incessantly for four days. We were very thankful for the heater that powered on through numerous power surges.

 In the midst of this our cat who has had indifferent health for over a year now needed to have a fleet of tests. The final ones required x-rays and ultrasound to be taken. The skilful vet was able to aspirate a fluid filled cyst on the side of the cat’s pancreas and we crossed our fingers that this would perk him up. This cat should be named “Trooper” because that is what he is. He has more than used up 9 lives and has pulled through many different ailments and injuries. It is a joy to see him looking so much better.
 For now the cat is looking chipper, feeling comfortable, eating well and reminding me constantly of how strong the life force can be. Here he is in healthier times enjoying the new carpet and a gentle breeze wafting up the hallway.

 We had booked a short holiday from 22nd August, returning 26th August. The weather shone upon us every day with intense blue skies, sunshine and warmth.
 We stayed for two nights in a cottage just out of Masterton and really enjoyed walking around Henley Lake and the next day visiting the stunning Pukaha, Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre.
 On Wednesday we traveled through the northern part of the Wairarapa and on to Hastings where we stayed in another cottage on a lifestyle block. This part of the trip saw us visit my elderly father-in-law and enjoy a meal out with him and other local family.
 We headed home on Friday, having to make a detour back to Pahiatua to get across the high hills to the western side of our island. The detour was caused by a massive slip in the Manawatu Gorge, shutting the road we would normally travel. The slip was a result of the snow and heavy rain that our island had experienced the previous week, coupled with very unstable rock and soil in that steep sided gorge.
 Unfortunately we have all returned home with a virus causing two of the three of us a reasonably high degree of misery. Our weekend was a very quiet one to help enable us to heal up.
 Evidence of spring was everywhere on our holiday. Most visible were the numbers of lambs in fields, daffodils in clusters and clumps and blossom on trees. The photo below is ornamental plum blossom in Havelock North, Hawkes Bay. By the time we returned spring was showing its face more strongly in our garden too.

A simple tradition

I posted a letter to my 2 year old grandson today. He is on holiday in a different city for about a fortnight with his Mum and Dad.

My Mum would regularly write to my children and especially if we were on holiday for a reasonable length of time and mail was able to reach us. My children all remember how their Gran wrote to them and we still have some of those letters and cards. She would also enclose cuttings from newspaper or other written items that she thought would interest the recipient.

Mum was a great correspondent and wrote to many, many people regularly. She also loved to receive letters. A letter arriving would see her make a cup of tea and sit straight down to read the news. She often expressed her delight in the mail that came and how much she enjoyed being able to read and re- read the letter. A long, newsy phone call from afar was also enjoyed but the written word she could savour over time and draw much from it.

As well as some questions about their road trip, sights along the way and what they might be doing on their holiday I briefly told our wee chap about life here. I cut a photo from the newspaper which he will be interested in and his aunty drew him a picture with a short message to enjoy.

I hope he enjoys his letter as much as we enjoyed putting it together for him.

Anticipation

This time last week I was anticipating what a roadtrip and weekend away could mean for me.  I have checked the  meaning of the word “anticipate” and found the following aspects that applied to me and my planned weekend.

“Anticipate”: To realise beforehand

And: To look forward to

So before we left I realised that if I prepared some food in advance we would not need to trek back and forth to unfamiliar supermarkets and no one would have to spend a lot of time preparing meals.  So we went reasonably laden, including some old favourites such as Date loaf and Spiced Apple Cake, a delicious beef casserole that had been cooked in the slow cooker and a simple meat loaf.  Our accommodation at The Shed  offered full kitchen and cooking facilities so there was no stress or distress arriving to find that we only had a microwave oven to use and a tiny fridge designed for one person!

I also knew that feijoas, a favourite seasonal fruit is plentiful and cheap in Hawkes Bay so I thought about finding at least one bag of those to come home with.  I also thought about Arataki Honey Centre and decided we would call in there and buy some comb honey.

I also spent some time considering what I was looking forward to about this weekend.  I was really keen to feel a sense of relaxation and comfort in the accommodation we booked and photos of The Shed reassured me about that.  I planned early nights and on one morning I took my cup of tea and the paper back to bed…..no cats climbing all over me, no chores needing to be done……bliss.

I anticipated walking the long driveway and looking at the orchards alongside.   (Many of the trees were still laden with a heavy crop of large, red apples.) I anticipated seeing new rural vistas as well as the familiar hills of Te Mata Peak and by contrast the totally flat land of the Heretaunga Plains.

I realised that I had not visited a relative’s burial plot in the cemetery so anticipated a visit to that spot.   Mostly I was looking forward to a change of environment, a change of pace and some refreshment.

Was my anticipation realised?    Yes!   Now with Easter almost here I might spend some time anticipating how this long weekend might be for me…..or I might just trust the process and go with whatever happens…..