Friday, December 31, 2010

From Home to Kaikoura

The last day of 2010 saw me rising early for the trip down to Wellington to catch the Interislander, in this case the Arahura, to the South Island. As it turned out, my car - the teal one on the right- ended up right at the front of the back of the ship- if that makes sense- ready for the great drive-off. (Also a good position in which you get salt spray all over your windscreen too as it turned out. )

It was a pretty calm crossing, though the wind was cold at times on the deck in the Strait itself. But here you see people relaxing on the deck in the Marlborough Sounds, just like they portray it in all the Interislander ads, where it seems as if 'rough crossings' never happen.

Once off the ship it wasn't long before I had passed through Blenheim, and was into the dry of the Awatere Valley. It was amazing to think there had been major flooding not far from here just days before.

This is also the land where massive irrigation is used for vineyards.

I had decided to make it a slow trip, as I wasn't sure how my wrist would manage with so much driving, and I don't feel safe if it stiffens up too much. I was only aiming for Kaikoura this day. Turned out to be a great plan, as I ended up stopping off at all sorts of small places I would usually rush by in the car. This is Kekerengu Beach where I had a walk and a little explore.

And near the parking area there were some of the biggest thistles I have ever seen, taller than I am.

I was surprised to see cabbage trees growing on such dry hilly land. Somehow I had imagined them only in wetter places. And eventually I reached Kaikoura....

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tui juvenile in the backyard

In the last few days there have been repeated visits onto my backyard flax flowers by a juvenile tui, and also sometimes from an adult tui- and occasionally even the two of them together. The flax bush is so close to my back deck that it even gave me quite a fright to suddenly hear the adult tui singing this morning! I suspect their nest must be quite close, perhaps on a tree at the neighbour's place behind mine.

Here are a few photos of the juvenile tui feeding on my flax flowers this evening. (You can see someone else's shot on this webpage!)

And goodness, I had just finished this post, and two birds flew down together- both juveniles. One was dominant though, and soon chased the other one away... Here is a photo of the one that got to stay....

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day- Celebration

I spent Christmas Day with friends. No people photos, but here are a few photos that show our lovely celebration meal.

Christmas Morning- Bledisloe Walk

Yesterday morning before heading off to share Christmas Day with friends, I headed for a walk along the whole Bledisloe walkway from Massey up to Old West Rd.

 As I crossed over each of the bridges I saw gentle morning light on the stream.

I know I have put up a photo of this gateway before, but I always  love the darkness of the path and fences contrasted with the sunlight on the hills beyond.

 So very pleasing to see that Christmas Day has started in sunshine!

 These crops nearer the end of the track seem very well advanced this year, with all the tropical warmth and wet we have had lately.

And on my way back I stopped briefly at one of the tables along the way to eat a summer peach and drink some water.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bledisloe Walkway

Since I broke my arm, I have walked around town lots, but have lacked confidence to get out on the more uneven tracks. So today I broke that barrier a little, with a walk up part of the Bledisloe Walkway, starting from near the Massey entrance.

One of the things I enjoy on the early part of this walkway is this footbridge that takes you over the Turitea Stream.
The stream was flowing quite forcefully today, after recent rain.

 Once you climb a bit you get some lovely views back across the buildings at Massey, and you can also get some views out to the ranges, like this one.

 I hadn't realised it might be some of the downhill bits I might find more scary, on the way back. But I emerged intact!
 And here are the other two little footbridges that you cross...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Christmas Story

A group of children from Auckland, New Zealand have put together this version of the Christmas story- heartwarmingly beautiful!~

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Walking via Lourdes

One idea I have for my 'next Chemin' is that I might walk via Lourdes. 

I have now found two different ways to walk there. The first way is via the Voie du Piemont Pyreneen, which runs a bit closer to the Pyrenees than the Arles route, and the photos on the website really inspire me to walk this way...

The second way is a more recently created route, involving a deviation off the Le Puy and Arles routes. I receive a (free) e-mailed French language newsletter 'Les Zoreilles du Chemin'*, and the latest issue has a snippet about this route. I don't guarantee the accuracy of my translation, but as far as I can work it out the facts are these:-
You will be able to download the maps for these routes in pdf form (from January).

1) You can leave the GR65 at Lectoure (Map 56 in the Miam Miam Dodo for Le Puy) and walk to Auch (Map 56 in the MMD for Arles), via the GR Coeur de Gascogne, for 37km. You then follow the Arles route (GR 653) to Maubourguet (Plan 62) for 71 km. A little after Maubourguet you take the GR101 south to Lourdes for 46km, passing through Tarbes.

2) You can also leave the GR65 at Nogaro (Plan 65 of MMD of the chemin du Puy) and head south for 39km towards Maubourguet, where you will find the GR 101 for Lourdes.

They say that the first option lets you walk more on the Chemin paths, but that it's advisable to get hold of MMD for the Arles route for the section between Auch and Maubourguet. The second option lets you quit the GR65 at the last possible moment, but you need to walk more on sealed roads between Nogaro and Maubourguet because this route hasn't been marked.

* (If you want more info about "Les Zoreilles" newsletter, just e-mail me via my blog profile.)

A personal note: I went to Lourdes for several days via train in 2006, and was prompted into quite a bit of religious reflection. (Here's a bit of a diary and here are some reflections.) And when I was walking on the Le Puy route, I was very conscious of Lourdes when I was 'near' it on the GR65. I am not certain about returning -I am pretty much an 'ex-Catholic'- but Mother Mary seemed to 'look after' me last time. Time will tell....

Pohutukawa in the Square

 It is still very muggy here, but this morning there was no rain and I headed off for a walk downtown. The pohutukawa around the city are coming into bloom in time for Christmas. These three photos were all taken around the Square- the top one by the Council buildings, the middle one by the ponds,

and the last shot near the Plaza corner, showing some of the ducks that have returned to the square now the breeding season is behind them.

And I saw another of these special stormwater drain covers, this one picturing inanga.

 I can't leave you without a couple of duck shots though.

 It was so humid, the ducks were just sitting there, so it was easy to sit on a nearby seat and take photos of them!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kahuterawa Rd Walk

When I was training for the Camino, I used to walk on some of the country roads near town, and Kahuterawa Rd was one of my favourites. But since my accident,  I've been nervous of walking in the countryside with just a narrow verge beside the road. A few weeks ago I headed out onto Kahuterawa Rd with a friend: that 'broke the ice'. And today I stepped it up a notch- up as far as Green's Rd. 

 There were a couple of horses grazing, and a herd of cattle were in a paddock close to the road. 

Today these followed a pattern I've seen before. The horses gave me a few seconds glance, then put their heads back down and nibbled more grass. But the cattle seemed to find my presence more alarming, and stared at me straight down the camera lens.

 Summer was rampant: wildflowers grew in profusion all along the way.

Not so many wild flowers in this paddock though: looks like hay has already been cut and stored. 

And finally, another pukeko (swamp hen). The lens (20X) on the new camera certainly helps me zoom in.
(And if you want to know how this walk fits into future dreams, try my new blog!)

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Those who know me from 'other blogs' might know I broke my distal radius aka the wrist 'nastily' mid-year, and I've had to be careful about what physical activity I've done for a few months. Walking the flat streets of my city is easy enough, but I've completely lost confidence about tackling some of the hillier, less predictable paths nearby. But the time has come to 'get over it'!!

The irony of all this self-protection is that today I fell over- not on a steep, uneven track, but at home in my back garden where I was too busy taking a photograph to notice the step in the way. Fortunately, whether my brain was protecting my wrist or just my camera, I managed to fall sideways along my arm rather than hand-down, and all is well!

So tomorrow morning I am planning to rise early and head up one of the rural roads that I used for 'training' for my last Camino. I imagine the soles of my feet might slightly complain by the end of it, but I am looking forward to being outdoors walking in the countryside for a few hours.

When I 'trained' and also when I walked the Camino, I carried a few short bits of inspiration each day in my pocket. (Except I learned not to do this when it rained: those particular bits of paper fell into pieces in my shorts pockets and never lived to enhance another day's reflection.)

Tomorrow I have chosen a song and a poem to 'accompany' me. The song is "We say thanks", a song by Fr Chris Skinner off his 'Awesome God' album. Thankfulness was something I realised I had to practise when walking the Camino. It was sometimes too easy to think about problems like sore feet /ankles, rather than remembering to be thankful for all the gloriousness in the landscape, the kindness of the people etc. And the poem I am carrying is 'Why I Wake Early' by Mary Oliver. It is always a special joy for me to walk early when the world is still waking up for the new day. But it has already gone 10pm here, so if I plan to walk early, I need to head off to bed pronto!!

Confession time! OK so I never woke up early- and my grandiose ideas of walking a 22km circuit had dropped to a more manageable three hour walk by the time I left home!!! But it was quite a 'symbolic walk' really: I walked up Kahuterawa Rd to the intersection with Green's Rd. And this was the very same walk I walked on my first  'training' walk in late-2007, getting ready for the Camino in April 2008... Hopefully this a beginning for my next Chemin!  (Some more photos from the walk are in my 'everyday' blog!)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Walking- a purpose....

people enjoying an autumn walk along a Christchurch beach

I think that our bodies are made to walk. And walking in the outdoors brings me a special joy, and a sense of thankfulness. A long walk brings a rhythm and simplicity of living that I deeply treasure. It is 'right' for me to walk, simply walk.

These words from the song  "Be Mindful" by Fr Chris Skinner SM perhaps 'sum it all up' for me:

 "There's a dance our bodies long to dance
There's a song our voices long to sing
There's a dream our  planets dreaming of
Sing and dance her dream upon the earth"

You can read the rest of the lyrics of this song here. The song is found on his Collection album.

In 2008 I walked along the Chemin de St Jacques from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Santiago. I never ever worked out whether I was a pilgrim, or 'just' a long-distance-walker. But I have since decided the question is not of any relevance or importance for me: the walk was what it was.....