Never before have I had winter holidays that included waterslides!
Andy and I are now in the midst of two weeks of holidays and, although we’re not straying too far from Whitecliffs this time, it is giving us good time for pause and reflection. And waterslides.
We spent two days last week in the alpine village of Hanmer Springs – famous for its hot pools. We based ourselves in a beautiful little B&B cottage (Albergo Hanmer) – what a treat! In between dips in the nearby hot pools, trips down the waterslides, and a lively round of mini golf, we relaxed in the cottage. Making meals, playing cards, watching movies, catching up on some sock mending. Part of the joy of the holiday was realizing that it wasn’t actually so different from our day-to-day lives in Whitecliffs! It was, however, very nice to have a change of scenery for a couple of days and to realize that there were NO outside jobs for us to do there!
The week has also given us the opportunity to venture to some other near-local points of interest. Namely, Flock Hill and the Hinewai Reserve.
Flock Hill, the biggest boulder field in the Castle Hill basin, is a remarkable place. That’s why they filmed parts of Narnia there! It’s home to a unique set of rock formations – gigantic limestone jutting out from the hillside. Halfway between the east and west coasts, the area has significance as a traditional meeting point for the Maori people. We spent a beautiful, sunny afternoon hiking up to the top of the hill and playing on the rocks.
The following day, we set out in the opposite direction – to the Banks Peninsula to the southeast of Christchurch. After visiting the coastal village of Akaroa, we headed to the native forest regeneration project of Hinewai. In 1987, the land was in scrubby pasture. Today, it is a beautiful and remarkably diverse native forest, rich with plants, birds, and well developed walking trails for visitors. We were lucky enough to bump into the amazing man behind the project – Hugh Wilson – on our way in. We recognized him immediately (coming up the hill on his bicycle) as we’d just seen him in the documentary Earth Whisperers a couple of nights before. Hugh gave us a very warm welcome and some good recommendations of routes to take through the forest. After a great three hour hike, which included solid exercise for both brain and body, we caught Hugh on the way out to thank him for the wonderful work he continues to do. As we raved about the beauty of the forest and our bewilderment that it had all grown up so recently, Hugh remarked: “Yes, it’s amazing how quickly nature forgives”.
Photos find it hard to do justice to either of these places. But here’s a try:
Now, for the final stretch of our holidays, we’ve settled back in Whitecliffs to get organized in our new shipping container abode and get back to enjoying our day-to-day (holiday-like) routines on the farm. I made some goat cheese and yogurt today with the milk from a friend’s goat. Andy has been busily measuring out the land just surrounding the containers and main building so that we can develop a plan for the landscaping. We’re thinking berries. herbs. maybe a little pond. salad greens. a couple of trees. an outside eating space. and anything else imagination (and, most importantly, the land) guides us towards. So the adventure continues.