Local Heart, Global Soul

October 16, 2018

Reefton Lights Up The Southern Hemisphere…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch went on a road trip in January 2018, making a side trip away from their favourite haunt in Hanmer Springs.

We have left Maruia Springs and our mornings tea (well, breakfast for the kids) and head onwards until we come to a fork in the highway.

The map tells us that branching to the north on State Highway 65 would eventually bring us out in Nelson, (yellow line on the map below) another New Zealand gem all on it’s own, but for future trip.

Staying on State Highway 7 will bring us to Greymouth, via Reefton (red line). Shortly after Reefton the road branches again, keeping west brings us out in Greymouth, whereas branching to the north-west would bring you to Westport (blue line) Ergo the Kilometre distance marker to each being exactly the same.

We are heading to Greymouth, so following the red line. I am informed by Wikipedia that: “In 1888 Reefton became the first town in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere to receive electricity,the work of Walter Prince, and its streets were lit by commercial electricity generated by the Reefton Power Station.

Rich veins of gold found in a quartz reef near the town led to its name, and also its former name of Quartzopolis. (Kiwi’s note: “Quartzopolis” sounds like the name of the villains lair in a comic strip or movie).

Intrigued by a name I have never heard of I did a quick search and found this http://www.ipenz.org.nz/heritage/itemdetail.cfm?itemid=2096 “Engineering Heritage of New Zealand”: “In 1886, following a demonstration of electric lighting in four of the hotels in Reefton by self styled “electrician”, Walter Prince, it was decided to form a company to build a power station to provide electricity for the lighting the town.

The Reefton Power Station was completed a few years later and on 4 August 1888 it became the first public power supply in New Zealand.”
Gold was first discovered near the town in 1866, although the major discovery was made in 1870. Soon after, the town briefly boasted a population of several thousand. This later dwindled to less than a thousand. Other industries in the town are coal mining, forestry, tourism and angling.

The town as it is today looks lively, and very much geared up for the passing tourist trade, taking advantage of the winding roads, vastly different driving conditions than most northern hemisphere tourists are used to and thus the need for a break from driving, restrooms and refreshments. This is a country town with plenty of guts and life, staying relevant and making the most of it’s location. I could live In Reefton very happily indeed.

Hanmer to Greymouth, Map made via Google Earth.

Opps… I forgot to add the map until some hours after this posted, apologies. (I’d made the post several weeks before, and the map at the last minute because I thought it would help to visualise how the route we took looked on a map.) Then of course I forgot to actually add the map to the blog post. Duh… I’ll blame my pain medications but realistically I just have moments of stupid and this apparently was one of them!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 5, 2018

A Few “Pointers” To Find South…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The last information board I’m looking at in the top station of the Christchurch Gondola is all about the Southern Cross.

It’s a bright group of stars that all Kiwi’s learn to identify at a young age, and it’s important enough to be on both the New Zealand and Australian flags.

I was lucky to have a teacher at school who’s hobby was astronomy. I think that every kid who passed through his classes got, like us, extensive lessons on stars, field trips to local observatories and on occasion when some of the big planets were visible, night classes in the park where he would have his astronomy friends and their huge telescopes in the middle of the field, delighting kids and their parents with amazing real-time images of planets that we had only seen in books previous to that.

I not only remember it fondly, I would go so far as to say it was one of the highlights of my time at school.

Since many Kiwi kids of my era grew up “tramping” (the New Zealand term for “hiking”) in their holidays, this teacher was keen that we should all be able to navigate by the stars, so taught us how to find due South. Here at the Gondola there is also a guide to the same… so a lot of memories came flooding back when I saw this. The information board reads:

The Southern Cross. The Southern Cross is a group of stars always visible in the southern hemisphere. It consists of four bright stars in the shape of a cross and a fainter start located just below the cross bar. Although there are a number of start crosses in the night sky, the Southern Cross is the most prominent. It is able to be identified by two very bight starts called “The Pointers” that point towards the top of the cross.
How to find South. While the position of the Southern Cross changes in the night, there are various ways to use the cross to find South.
One of the more accurate methods is to:

(1) Extend a line joining the pointers. Midway along this line extend another line at a right angle to it.

(2) Extend a further line from the long axis of the Southern Cross.

(3) Where the two lines meet drop a vertical line to the horizon. This is South.

The Southern Cross is a national icon, appearing on the New Zealand flag. The Maori believed it was an anchor of a great sky canoe, while other tribes thought it was an opening in the sky that the wind blew through.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 18, 2018

Landfall And My Mountains…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Pain messes with your sleep. Strong pain medication messes with your sleep in a different way.

Chemical sleep means your dreams all but disappear.

Now, on the rare occasions when I dream, and remember that I dreamed, two topics reoccur over and over again.

The first is that I can run, walk, hike, things I can no longer so. The second is always mountains. Not just any mountains, but my mountains.

I dream of mountains I recognise, grew up with, woke up to, hiked up and loved.

I dream of them covered in winter snow, with snow on the tops on summer’s days and the many shades of deep purples as the sun would shine on the dry, barren tussock grassed slopes and slip away behind the jagged ridges at the headland of the valley.

These were the slopes that had shimmery hazes across them on hot, hot summer days. Now that I live on the flattest country on earth my mountains and the memory of them becomes all the more special.

With this trip finally materializing after four and a half years, the dreams increased (or at least seemed like they did, maybe I just remembered them better, rather than forgetting as soon as I woke up) have been solely about my mountains. Clearly I am missing home.

On our flight from Singapore to New Zealand I had been trying to negotiate the fine line between following the flight moment by moment all the way (boring and it makes the flight seem unnecessarily long) and being ready to catch the moment when we make landfall and the my mountains come into view.

It’s summer and I’ve heard the temperatures have been in the high 20’s c (80’s F) in recent weeks so of course there are very few traces of snow. That doesn’t matter, snowcapped or not they are still my mountains.

The Southern Alps come into view and my heart goes faster, I get emotional and need to fight back the odd tear. I see the rugged peaks and valleys of my youth. This is the view that reminds me that I am truly coming home.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 5, 2012

Season’s ….Greetings

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When New Zealand’s Pākehā (pronounced ‘par key har” = New Zealanders of European descent) settled in New Zealand they bought with them and adhered to the traditions they had been familiar with “back home”.

These were not just things like the fashion of the day, religious traditions, methods of farming, ways of speaking and social structure, but also their traditions concerning food.

Many things were “transferable” and in fact improved because New Zealand had better weather than northern Europe, thus longer growing seasons and a variety in the climate that allowed for many different crops in various parts of the country.

That’s why still today, Otago in the south of the South Island is as famous for it’s apricots (and other stone fruits), Blenheim for grapes and wine, as Te Puke is for Kiwifruit, Kerikeri for oranges/grapefruit, Dargaville for kumara and Katikati for avocados are in the North.

Local Maori introduced  Pākehā to vegetables like kumara (a very specific tasting variery sweet potato)  and thus began the fusion of cooking style that’s popular in New Zealand today and which is still evolving.

Back in my Grandparent’s day it was totally unthinkable for anything else to be on your Christmas Day menu than a full roast with all the trimmings. It was just what everyone “did”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The big problem was that the New Zealand Christmas falls not at the start of winter per the Northeren Hemisphere, but at the start of a Southern Hemisphere summer.

December in New Zealand can be roughly compared to May in northern europe…

…weatherwise it’s an unpredicable month and there’s a fairly equal chance that it’s a temporate 17 C where a jersey (pull-over) is needed or a sweltering 28 C were everyone is happiest in tee-shirts and shorts and kids are running around with home-made water pistols made out of old, cleaned detergent bottles on the front lawn.

If it was the latter, then Kiwi families up and down the country literally sweated over a hot stove to get the roast onto the Christmas table and then found themselves sitting in front of a heavy meal of  roast meat, or turkey, potatoes, parsnip, carrots, pumpkin, onions, peas and gravy, and often followed by a dessert of trifle, custard etc.

Such fare is of course true winter food and delicious as such, but it’s rather heavy going if the temperature you are eating it in is closer to 30 degrees.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

During my lifetime I have seen a noticable shift in the New Zealand Christmas menu…

…mostly gone are the roast parsnips, carrots and pumpkin, there may or may not be a leg of lamb or a turkey etc but more often (at least in our circle of accquaintences) it’s being replaced by ham, regular or smoked chicken served cold, salads of many various sorts and lighter desserts like the famous New Zealand Pavlova.

New potatoes are boiled with sprigs of mint and not roasted, our freshly shelled peas picked just two days ago have been boiled and are on the table and there’s not a tankard of mulled wine in sight.

For many families, enjoying the long summer break at Christmas also means that they may or may not be at home.

They might possibly be camping, or at a “batch” (holiday home) (a.k.a. A “crib” if you hail from Otago) where stove facilites could be limited.

Wither that was the origin of the Christmas Day BBQ or not will probably never really be substantiated but more and more Kiwi’s are enjoying a Christmas Day BBQ even if they are at home to celebrate these days.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Christmas in New Zealand has definitely bcome a less formal affair. Of course there are still some people who still do the roast bird and all the trimmings but as far as I know from my own experience, most people will do something that’s a meeting in the middle, like roast meat (served hot or cold) and roast potatoes with salad.

Kiwi’s like to relax and enjoy the friends and family that have joined them and make the most of the weather.

Family Kiwidutch have been lucky enough to receive two invitations for Christmas 2011.

The first is from Rae and Pete at the B&B to join them for lunch and the second is with my Aunt and Uncle around the road for dinner as they already have a lunch engagement to attend.

We contribute to desserts and drinks and are treated to a wonderful time full of good company and food.

It’s a very different style Christmas Day than those we have in The Netherlands, but long hours of daylight and summer weather have quite rightly meant that Kiwi’s have adapted to celebrating the season according to the season…

One Christmas problem however appears to be the same no matter if you are in the northern or southern hemisphere, …the food was so delicious that despite our best intentions we all still ate too much. Look at this stuff…do you blame us? It was Christmas after all !

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 1, 2012

Christmas Lights… Southern Hemisphere Style!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The good thing about writing about this trip a short while after  the event, is that we get to have Christmas twice over!

… On one hand it might have been nice to have posted this in “real time” but reality is that there’s only so much you can get done in a day and after any activities  I really needed my afternoon naps more than I needed to be logging on and making blog posts.

My foot is healing well, and slowly but surely gaining back significant strength and flexability but since I’m still without mobility in the area directly below my toes, the crutches are still a frustrating but necessary evil. We tailor our days so that I can have time to elevate my foot, take pain relief and sleep after exercise and so far that’s working well.

My aunt and uncle tell us that there is a house a short drive away that has an amazing display of Christmas lights and decorations and that if we can keep the kids up long enough (it’s summer so darkness falls sometime around 10:30 p.m.) that we should go and enjoy the light show.

Actually they also mentioned that there’s an even bigger one around here somewhere but didn’t know the specific address.

We tried to follow their instructions involving various reference points, rights, lefts and straight-a-heads but since we have a well known penchant for getting lost, it’s hardly a surprise that in the end we gave up driving around in circles and were content with a visit to just one really well decorated house.

The night is warm, it’s now well dark and the festively dressed gentleman owner is outside to welcome people who are loitering on the footpath  wanting to look but a little unsure if they should proceed further onto the property.

He assures us that we are all welcome to come up the side path and up to the front window to see it all.

Amazingly many parts of the display are mobile, the little group of deer at the back of the property gently sway their heads, the santa and snowman see-saw actually moves like one, and the myriad of little houses etc that are displayed in the front windows have combinations of winking or changing colour lights, skating, walking or turning figures, and even one with four tiers with trains of decreasing sizes going around on each level.

Around the roof of the house, along the fences and in the trees there are lights, lights and more lights.

I took photographs but they really can’t communicate the amazing atmosphere that was generated around this garden, Christmas music poured softly out of the door of the house and it was lovely.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

To be honest, Christmas decorating of this type is only just starting to catch on in the Netherlands, in recent years a few people go all out, often using the limited space that their balconies provide and but mostly people decorate simply or not at all.

We have a set of little lights that we can tape to our front window, and yes you can set them to flash annoyingly, disco style, but we prefer the slow colour change setting.

I’m in two minds… I like the fact that our lights and others like them bring a little cheer into a dark and cold winter street…

…some of the decorations inject a little brightness and  humour and as a parent the game of  “spotting” these lights in house windows or balconies is brilliant for distracting grumpy, fighting children who are sitting in the car, tired out at the end of long days of whirlwind of pre-Christmas events …but sometimes when the various bits are thrown together they can look a bit disjointed and tacky.

I like “tat”and “kitch” sometimes but in severe moderation… and I can never quite put my finger on why I might like one decoration and say  “ooh, that’s sweet” and then go “um, maaaybe not” or “over my dead body” to the next.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Like most things in life, personal preference is everything.

Most of these bits and pieces are cute…but maybe the piled up soft toys (I didn’t take a photo) or the parachuting Santa were a step too far?

One item tried to be cute but looked a bit strange to me… a blow-up Santa inside a plastic blow-up ball, it as supposed to be a snow-globe, was plugged in and there were zillions of tiny polystyrene balls being blown around inside it …

…but I thought it looked like Santa was trapped inside a plastic bubble since you could hardly see the tiny balls and they certainly didn’t show up in my photos.

All in all though this was an amazing display and I loved it, the atmosphere was really magical and people were stopping and coming for a look from far and wide.

I talked to the owner of the house and he said that it took weeks and weeks of preperation, but that when he saw the smiles on people’s faces it was all worth it.

I certainly appreciated his hard work… the photos don’t really do it justice… it’s magical!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This Santa is huge! (it’s tied to a fence that about 1.8 m / 6 feet tall)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Parachute Santa…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I think these are kitch… but cute. What do you think?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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