Sunday, February 07, 2016

South Island photos

OK so I took a whole heap of photos on my South Island road trip. Here's a huge selection here in my Flickr album

Saturday, February 06, 2016

A garden...

Short extracts from an article by Matt Emerson

A garden- not two forks in a road:
"Adam and Eve were given a paradise, not a fork in the road. To seek God’s will is to recognize the abundance that lies before us. ... In Lonsdale’s words, “There is no blueprint in God’s mind with which we have to comply.”"

"I recommend connecting vocation to the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists 12: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity. ... Where qualities like joy and kindness and peace reside, God is likely at work."

"learn to be comfortable with mystery, with periods of not knowing."

"The testimony of the saints and of Scripture tells us that God comes to us in ways and at times that catch us off guard. ... Pray to be ready for the surprise."

"To borrow from the poet William Cowper, “God is His own interpreter, / And He will make it plain.”"

Friday, February 05, 2016

My South Island Holiday

An exuberant palette of colours
cloud hugging distant sounds
harsh rocky coastal edges
draped softly with fragile greens
shimmering blue waters

Driving into vineyard country
such arid land with vivid green vines
Where does the water all come from?
Mountains will remain long after
our forays into over-use have ended.

As I follow the Wairau Valley
deeper inland towards lakes
I come to realise more about
glaciers, faults and mountains
and how eroded rocks form the land

I never understood before
how wide the valleys were
and how far they’d come from the mountains

I turn onto another road
into the more gentle Motueka valley
criss-crossed by old bridges
that tell tales of people
living in remote places beyond
and how settlers spread
across the land

And always, always the palette of the South Island sings to me
such vibrant colours
their nature, their mood, changing as I drive.

After labouring across the Takaha Hill Rd
I reach Collingwood
which feels like a quiet end of the world
finis terre

except that the next day’s journey
goes past the end of that world
into a landscape that feels eerily lunar
Farewell Spit, formed of eroded sands
from the Mt Cook region
carried by West Coast currents

until they arrive at the northernmost point
of the South Island, Cape Farewell
and there the sands are dropped
and blown onto the spit

I am a child of this land
and I never knew this.

A friend told me
that I should go to Wharariki Beach,
that it was rugged and beautiful.
She was right
and I am giving you but one taste
of its unexpected treasures-
so you will need to check my veracity
by going there yourselves
(near low tide.)

I left to head down country as far as Murchison
another town with some ‘old’ history
Then on Christmas morn
I watched as dawn began to spread its light
near the river,
and I drove onto Christchurch
where I shared time with old friends

before leaving to spend time
with even older
ancestors from Charing Cross

and as always I feel sad
that one never came home

But then another surprise comes along and I rejoice
when I discover my next camping spot beside the Rakaia Gorge and River.
What beauty. So much to be thankful for.

Weather forecasts intervened
and I visited Mt Cook next.
Since my younger days
the Hooker Glacier has retreated
so far back.
On this beautiful sunny afternoon
I joined the hordes of tourists
and walked to see Lake Mueller
then along
some of the Hooker Valley track.

Majestic landscapes
need to be walked through-
or camped beside-
they elude capture by camera-
they surround you
and fill you with both wonder
and some frissons of fear
as you contemplate their making
and their breaking.

I went to sleep near mountains but awoke in the early hours,
emerged from my tent into the electricity-free darkness outside
except it wasn’t black-the stars were bold and bright
like I had never seen them before.

I rose early-ish
to walk the whole Hooker Valley track
and yesterday’s sun was gone,
but so too had the crowds.

Can you can tell how much I am in awe of this mountain?
I have much to tell you about my time in Te Waipounamu,
but the area near Mt Cook has truly stolen my heart.

Next it is time for me to discover lakes
that we use for hydro-schemes
first Lake Ohau
then Lake Benmore
along the Waitaki River

until I find myself in places, like Kurow,
where gold-mining made its mark.

And as I have done so often already on this trip
I divert down some back-roads
and this time I find the Elephant Rocks

until eventually I reach the coast again.

On the morning of New Year’s Day I explore Oamaru
with its heritage of buildings from golden days
and the simpler childhood home of Janet Frame.

Late in the afternoon I take the tricky metal road
to Katiki Point

where there is a hide from where you can
see the yellow-eyed penguins and seals
quietly, without disturbing them.

This colony wasn’t always here.
A couple who were light-house keepers cared for injured birds.
Some returned so the couple and volunteers planted habitat
and the colony grew in number.

Next day brought a distressing sight.
I had heard of Macraes mine
but knew no more about it.
Hidden down obscure Otago roads
there is a wound in the earth that can never be fixed. All in pursuit of gold.

I needed to again find the solace of more typical Central Otago landscapes-
arid and rocky.
Next day a friend gave me the Deluxe Dunners Stunner tour
surprising sights for her and for me!

So many beautiful bays I simply wasn’t expecting
in this southern part of the country so notorious for its cold climate.

And the next place I fell in love with was Pounawea
south of Owaka on the estuary
where the Catlins and Owaka Rivers meet and join the southern ocean.

 Bird song surrounded me as I put up my tent

The chorus at dawn and dusk was the most beautiful I have ever heard
and the tide flowed in and out, as wading birds came and went in search of food.

And next bay around,
the sea lions came to rest.
Truly, I wondered
how much more magnificent
can one holiday’s experiences get?

And because I was 'near'
I had to go and stand at Slope Point
the southernmost point
of the South Island.
Of course I did.

On Lake Manapouri
I learned about protests
I had been too young to understand
and how ordinary New Zealanders
saved this beautiful lake
from drowning.

Then I escaped the crowds of Queenstown
for the more peaceful Glenorchy
at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

But I had to re-visit Queenstown to see the church
where Fr John Francis O’Donnell served
a first cousin to my great-grandfather
another beautiful church
designed by F W Petre, consecrated in 1898.

My time in the south was running out
not enough time to explore all
so just a quick glance at the peaceful northern ends
of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea

before an unexpectedly sunny drive
over the Haast Pass
where the Haast River
seemed deceptively like a gentle stream.

Finally just a few days
in the province of my maternal ancestors
rainforest, lakes and ocean

and a completely unexpected adventure
standing at the exposed Alpine Fault
with one foot on the Pacific Plate
and the other straddling the Australian Plate

My farewell was at Hokitika Gorge
beautiful glacial tinges in the waters

and on my last morning camping
a kotuku to visit in the camping ground.

A quick goodbye to Christchurch friends and family
a soak in the drizzle in a spa high above the estuary at Redcliffs
before a 6am start north for the ferry
back to the North Island
and my home.

So much seen, so much unseen
so many reasons to return.