Latest Follies & Personal News

Christmas and New Year at Aspiring Hut

It’s turning out to be a delight as to how I may feel walking in to begin my 15 day stints as hut warden at Aspiring Hut, and then finding that the mood of the weather has as much to do with it as anything. It really dictates the whole “energy” internally and externally, with the latter definitely impacting on the former.

It’s a fine day for the hour long drive up the Matukituki Valley, and for a minor delay while a farmer herds these cattle into making a flurry of dust…
Cattle Matukituki Station

And then a pleasant surprise: this time “in” I’d decided to take my mountain bike and I caught up with this guy Mike, and what he was able to do in this self designed and built wheel chair buggy amazed me. I only caught him because he was part of a multi family group. Part of the journey in, involves a steep hill climb covered with loose rocks that makes a 4wd scrabble a bit, but he sailed up it [minus the trailer that converts into a normal wheel chair]. He was very inspiring, and as we knew mutual friends and we’ve both done a lot in the mountains, we had a many a good chat while we waited on the track, and latter settled in at the hut…
Wheel Chair acces Mt Aspiring National Park

Mike’s family and friend’s and their families…
Family Group Mt Aspiring National Park

A couple of evenings after my arrival the light was quite flat under an overcast sky, so I went for a walk to see if I could spot some deer thought to be nearby, but alas no! However the soft light continued and as it was agreeable for a few tree photo ideas this is what I tried. Having got the shot and regarding it as my blank canvas I went to work on it digitally…
Mt aspiring National Park Matagouri

And ditto on the nearby mount Islington…
Mt Islington Mt Aspiring National Park

Then a few days later a rainbow conveniently displaying over the river from Aspiring Hut…
Rainbow from Aspiring Hut

Moody times in the rain near Cascade Hut, 20 mins down valley from Aspiring Hut…
Bush near Cascade Hut

A type of fungi I came across while doing some track maintenance. One I’ve not seen before…
fungi, Mt Aspiring National Park

Waterfalls off Mt Glengyle, Mt Aspiring National Park…
Waterfalls off Mt Glengyle, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rainy times at Shovel Flat while doing some track maintenance…
Shovel Flat, Mt Aspiring National Park

The above is about half the images I’ve taken on this roster, so watch this space for some more as soon as I have time. They’re pretty moody ones too as prior to this post being published from clear blue skies in Wanaka, there was a spell of rainy days

And a Happy New Year too :))

Magical forests, butterflies – memories to carry and share

After a wild and prolonged spell of spring weather it is looking a little like the flavour of summer is now settling on the Southern Alps, and from where I’m sitting in same at Aspiring Hut in the West Matukituki Valley in Mount Aspiring National Park it’s a reminder of the magic of the seasons.

The hut wardening job is turning out to be all I hoped for, so for this post I thought I’d gather together lots of photos to illustrate the nature of the job.

School groups come no matter what the weather, because I guess they’ve been planned for ages. I don’t interact with them much, but do clean up after them [not onerous]…
Aspiring hut school group

 


There have been a surprising number of older overseas students doing environmental studies, and I’ve even been interviewed by some of them. I think they learn more about what goes on the outdoors of this country, than most of the locals do.

A WildLand Studies group camping by the hut…
Aspiring hut camping

 


Lambing is all over down the valley, and the lambs are growing really fast. The cattle always seem to stay the same, and I often marvel at how they can cross the river in conditions that I’d not even try…
Cattle crossing Matukituki

 


I’ve previously posted pictures of the historic Mt Aspiring Hut, so here are some of the warden’s quarters and the toolshed behind the hut – this shot taken on the little track I travel daily to check the hut water supply…
Aspiring hut wardens quarters

 


The settling tank [left] and the holding tanks that feed all our needs, especially the flush toilets [which I’ve found use a surprising amount of water]. Should the water intake get clogged by sediment or vegetation then these tanks would only keep things going for about two hours if the hut was full with 30-40 people…
Aspiring hut water supply

 


Both my warden’s quarters and the main hut have a backup rain water supply for emergencies. My one was quite polluted with leaf litter and soot, so I spent a day dismantling it, getting it on the ground, then crawling partway into it to scrub it out. The boxes on the outside of the wall are for the fridge and for the on-demand supply of hot water…
Aspiring hut wardens quarters

 


It’s not all beer and skittles on a day like this one. Severe SW gales race across the sky, leaving shadows to catch up on the mountains, not to mention the odd raindrop. Not the place up there on Glengyle for a butterfly…
Glengyle from Aspiring hut

 


But around the hut ever since mid Oct. a butterfly flutters about bringing such incongruous feelings on days like this one. It seems such an unlikely companion to myself on “my rounds”, [whom it’s said travels a bit like a bear in the mountains – not with a sore head I might add]…
Aspiring hut toilets

 


On sunny days I leave the butterfly meadows for track work up valley. This involves crossing Rough Creek by swing bridge. Quite a high one at that – the assistance of wings could be welcome…
Rough Creek Mt Aspiring National Park

 


A butterflies view of Rough Creek…
Rough Creek Mt Aspiring National Park

 

A really big event in the valley a couple of weeks ago was a poison drop. I was not directly involved in this predator control, as I have my own workload, but none-the-less there were things to do, and I had other DOC staff staying with me a couple of nights.

A stoat like this may not look it, but they’re a very efficient and deadly killing machine. I had to retrieve this one, so it could be analysed as to cause of death…
Mt Aspiring National Park Stoat

 


Roaming about on predator and native bird work I get to spend time in some magnificent stands of native red beech. It is just pure magic to spend a few hours at a time in such places.

I’ll carry what are for me highly emotional memories of these places wherever I go, as they’re now lodged in my heart…
Mt Aspiring National Park red beech

 


Unfortunately little fledgling robins like this do fall out of nests – at least that is the assumption, so I carried this one back and stored it in my freezer pending my return to Wanaka, where it can be examined…
South Island Robyn fledgling

 


Lunch time by a delightful creek so typical of the Otago Alps, and no sandflies…
Aspiring Hut warden Donald Lousley

 


Other tasks include getting firewood ready for when I’ll need it in Feb/March [yes summer is short in the Southern Alps]. And although there will be no warden in the winter we’ll be up there regularly doing bird work, and we’ll soon go through heaps…
Splitting wood at Aspiring hut

 


We also keep the grass around the buildings tidy. We were using a weed eater, but it’s slow and the people traipse the grass into the hut, so I resurrected my old lawn mower and have lent it to DOC. It’s like part of the family, and who would have ever thought during those hours of mowing sections in Twizel years ago, that it’d end up in the very heart of such beautiful mountains…
Mowing grass at Aspiring hut

 

My days up there are becoming reminiscent of the 70’s when we were all off-line.

I think we need to be attracted less to glamour and be on our guard to investments we can inadvertently make in same, and tune in more to the wonders of nature around us.

Birds can teach us much [who after all naturally live between the skies and ground, so you could say spiritually speaking they link lightly to heavenly spaces], as can the flow of water – the greatest force that shapes our planet.

While we stress and live anywhere but in the present, they flow on seemingly not ruffled by our daily dramas and worries. They’re in the moment, for centuries!

Which bought to mind the lyrics of the song; We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus (And A Lot Less Rock & Roll) by Linda Ronstadt: Written by Wayne Raney

Whatever our beliefs maybe we do need to get back to them!

Well you can read it in the morning papers
Hear it on the radio
Crime is sweeping the nation
This world is about to go

We need a good old case of salvation
To put the love of God in our souls
We need a whole lot more of Jesus
And a lot less rock and roll

We need more old time camp meetings
And a lot more prayers of faith
Prayers that will move a mountain
Save our souls from the burning waste

We need a good old case of salvation
To put the love of God in our souls
We need a whole lot more of Jesus
And a lot less rock and roll

We need more old fashioned preachers
Pouring out their hearts in prayer
When you’re in their presence
Well you know that the Lord is there

We need a nationwide revival
To put the love of God in our souls
We need a whole lot more of Jesus
And a lot less rock and roll

We need a whole lot more of Jesus
And a lot less rock and roll

Stepping back in time at Aspiring Hut

Following on from my last post awhile back about my summer job looking after Aspiring Hut up the West Matukituki Valley this evening I find myself writing this up on site as the rain falls steadily to the tune of seriously flooded mountain rivers, my laptop being charged via solar, and my only immediate contact to the outside world being via VHF and/or HF two way radio.

When the weather is fine this is the view up valley from the deck/verandah of my little cosy home. The foreground roof is the ablutions block [I have my own ‘tho, just by my bed]. And the larger roof to the left is the hut itself which was built in ’49 and will easily hold 30 people…
Aspiring hut

My daily tasks begin at 8 am with Wanaka Base calling me up via VHF radio via a repeater above me on Mt Tyndall. I then relay the number of people in the area, not only Aspiring Hut, but Liverpool, French Ridge and Colin Todd [the latter two being mountaineering huts]. And after I’ve received a morning weather forecast I then go write it up on a white board in Aspiring Hut, then walk up the back to check the water supply intake then usually then have breakfast.

I’m often woken much earlier by one of my mates up here. Yesterday morning he played noisily with some kindling I’d left on my deck, and he also cleverly learnt how to turn on the tap at the hut’s camping spot a few minutes walk away…
Mt aspiring kea

In a few days I finish my second 15 day roster. The first was punctuated by lots of people coming and going between some wild weather days. This one is the other way around a bit, with more visits by wild weather fronts than I’ve known for many years.

Each front has been leaving lots of new snow, often down lower than bush line shown here on the popular Cascade Saddle route over to the Dart Valley. Right now it’s a mountaineering proposition ‘tho and hardly anyone is taking it on…
Cascade Saddle, Mt aspiring national park

As well as my obvious tasks of advising people on conditions, cleaning the hut, collecting fees and monitoring visitor number and the choices they make, I also do track maintenance up valley cleaning out water tables clogged by winter storms and help other projects such as programmes aimed at protecting and growing native bird populations/species. Every day I’m very active and I’m finding my fitness is quietly improving. I know this because every night I need more sleep than when I’m in town!

Lately I’ve been going up valley an hour to Shovel Flat where I’ve cached a shovel, and there just back from this view I clear from the channelling beside the track a hundred meters or two each day of silt, leaves, mud, and branches bought down by winter winds and rain. I usually work alone, and of late in the rain as per this photo. To get there and back is a beautiful walk…
Shovel Flat, Mt aspiring national park 2

Then every other few days I walk down to the Raspberry Creek car-park to clean the toilets there, and since I’m in here for 15 days at a time I store food in the cleaning cupboard there. When I come in at the start of my roster I carry the fresh veges and items to be stored in my fridge/freezer [gas/solar powered], then bring up the heavier non perishables later.

By the time I check and unblock the water supply up Raspberry Steam aways, and clean the three toilets the round trip takes about 6 hours. On the rare fine days I’m rewarded by views like this – the Rob Roy Valley and glacier…
Rob roy glacier, mt aspiring national park

But then on other days I battle back in 100k/hr gales, with the rain stinging my face. I only have micro seconds to capture these sort of images before my camera lens has very soft focus rain drops all over it…
Tree mt aspiring national park

And then there is the washing to be done. That is the HF radio aerial on the left – one of two with wire strung between…
Mt aspiring hut washing

I’ve no pictures yet, but every night there are people in the hut and I’m over there with them collecting fees and answering questions. Already I’ve made a host of new friends and met some wonderful and interesting people. On first acquaintance too there are few clues as to a person’s social standing.

So far though what I’ll never forget is the weather and violence of same during this drawn out spring. It has it’s own dynamic flavour which I like…
Mt bevan and mt aspiring

Tonight as I work on this post [for uploading in a few days] darkness settles on very heavy rain lashing my wee house, while thunder echos around the valley underscored by the literal roar of rivers rushing down the valley. Sometimes the thunder actually shakes the building quite violently.

I’m not taking a lot of images, but every couple of days I see something to have a go at capturing, and then process on site…
Mt glengyle mt aspiring national park

I’ve the privilege here to reflect a lot on my journey so far in life, and I’m making the most of it! I do find too that I’d forgotten that this more simple way of living was once the norm.

Now lets get back to my new friends. It’s possible that one is female and the other an older male. Certainly the one who flew up onto my table to examine the Mac I’m creating this post on, was learnedly fast and astute.

The first one on site this morning was the more cautious one and he/she was a bit bedraggled by the night’s rain, but it did not stop a “kea” call to summon the other…

Wet kea on aspiring hut deck

First a cautious look around by the more experienced bird…
Kea on aspiring hut floor

Then a quick ascent using wings…
Kea on aspiring hut desk

But it was my hut cleaning bucket that just had to be towed across the slippery floor, with the intent being to get it outside where it’s contents could be examined and dismantled…
Keas in doorway

Since I’ve got as far as kea shots in my wee house, then here are a couple of shots of the interior:

The red door leads to a bunkroom and storage cupboard area. By the notice board are two radios – VHF and HF. The former usually gives the best clarity, but when it is scratchy then HF does the trick. Also HF as it bounces off the ionosphere, allows me to communicate with other huts in the Dart, Routeburn and Caples and Queenstown if needed, and even further afield…
Aspiring hut warden's quarters
________

Aspiring hut warden's quarters

Lastly, yes due especially to the weather I’ve been reading a limited, but rich number of books of many genres in the warden’s hut library. One called Living with the Himalalyan Masters by Swami Rama is a memorable read. I like the astute way he for example can write about many religions and contextualise them in relation to each other, eg since I was raised to a Christianity model, I’ve found him to be masterful at contextualising this into eastern religions.

If you Google “Swami Rama” there are some long YouTube videos worthy of some time

My new summer job in Mt Aspiring National Park

It’s all been a bit serendipitous how after lightening my journey of baggage and possessions, how I was “ready” [for what some asked, and I had no answer], that I now find myself being the new summer warden of the iconic Aspiring Hut .

It’s in the West Matukituki Valley, Mt Aspiring National Park, near Wanaka., and is owned by the New Zealand Alpine Club and managed by the Dept. of Conservation.

Built in 1949, and in those days was about 6 hours walking from where early mountaineers left their cars. Now it’s about a 2.5 hour walk and frequented more by family groups and/or overseas backpackers…
Aspiring Hut

My humble abode for the summer. Note the Aspiring Hut wall on the right. I’ll be over there in the mornings cleaning when everyone is gone, then later in the day and evening to track parties, collect huts fees and/or tickets, and answer questions. The person in this photo is my friend and fellow volunteer Martin Curtis, a well known Cardrona folk singer, especially famous for his song about the Gin and Raspberry mining days of old up there www.ginandraspberry.com
Aspiring Hut Warden's Quarters

I won’t have a cat or dog for company, but these are some friends I made last year at this time. Hopefully they’ll be back soon…
Aspiring Hut

There is 4wd truck access across the farmland leading the hut and the National Park. Although I’ll be walking back to the car-park every couple of days to clean the toilets there, and can have food left in a little cupboard, other workers will be up the valley regularly in vehicles, so I won’t have to carry heavy loads too often…
DOC truck in Mt Aspiring National Park

The winter view up valley from the warden’s quarters veranda/deck. Mt Aspiring on the right…
Mt Aspiring from Aspiring Hut

The same view a few days ago, with a very active and violent front coming in. This will be a regular sight in summer…
Mt Aspiring in cloud from Mt Aspiring Hut

Cascade Creek is about 10 mins walk from the hut…
Cascade Stream near Aspiring Hut

The view up the Rob Roy Valley to the glacier of the same name. It’s the most popular side walk in the valley, with 23,000 visitors annually. However I won’t see much or them unless I walk up there. It does make the car-park busy though, and I’m sure I’ll be asked many questions when I’m there in my uniform, looking like Yogi Bear…
Rob Roy Glacier Mt Aspiring National Park

As mentioned a lot of my time will be spent on the farmland as I come and go…
Mt Edward, Mt Aspiring National Park

Every 10 days either myself or my relieving warden will have to go up to French Ridge hut. It’s a bit of a grunt up a steep track, but it then flattens a little. This photo from above the hut a little way is typical of the wonderful views…
French ridge

The main Matukituki River, West Branch near the car-park and Rob Roy track…
West Matukituki River, near Rob Roy Walk, Mt Aspiring National Park

This change in life-style has all been a bit sudden, but that is how it is with opportunities. There has been a mass of paperwork to address, uniform fitting and a First Aid course update among other details, so I’ve been a bit slow getting word out.

Should you need to contact me while I’m away messages could be left with DOC’s Wanaka office, and they’ll relay them to my radio. Or I’ll be checking my email every couple of weeks when I’m back in town. When I see the pattern and get in my stride I’ll probably post my schedule on the top right of my work web site: www.icommunicate.co.nz/

Five months – many changes

Hi all

I’ve not posted much since early in the year because I decided to make some changes. “Down sizing” I believe some call it. As some of you may recall for quite a few years I’ve been re-modeling the inside of a very large 32ft. 3 axle caravan.

It’s now back on the road. Getting it there took a big push of many weeks, most especially as I went through everything I own and threw out literally over a ton of it.

Right from that moment when we take a deep breathe and utter “right”, the work has had a magical flow to it. All I could deduce from this [with my mouth often hanging open] was that it affirmed I was doing the right thing.

This sort of process I realise looking back from the delightful solitude of the Hawea River, where I’m now parked up for awhile, creates space of a somewhat spiritual flavour.

But what it may all be about, is by getting rid stuff and simplifying life I feel ready and able to easily adapt to opportunities and change!

At times my tank was running near on empty and then as is often the way you realise:

1] who has the inclination to “be there” for us, but can’t

2] those who can and are , and may not even realise it, as it’s just what they do.

Either way I felt supported one way or another by everyone who knew and I managed to not cherish any opinions while developing a deepening sense of gratitude for how it’s all worked out – and still is. Thank you everyone!

First stop [which maybe for awhile] on my new journey is by the lower Hawea River just 5 mins drive from Wanaka. Yes, it is chilly, but I’ve now a total of 120mm of insulation layered in my still tall ceiling. That took a bit of work too, but well worth it!

Actually that the technology is now available has been a significant factor in deciding to try some “change” in life.

My Land Cruiser camper supplies the electricity [which even powers my old washing machine now fitted in a spare corner behind a curtain], and also now hosts the highest speed Internet I’ve ever had, and my landline phone, via a radio link to Hill End by the mouth of the Cardrona River. All for a monthly cost a third that I’d been paying Telecom…
Hawea River

The same spot in the warmth of yesterday afternoon. That’s me to the left in the distance. The grey house near the center is another house on wheels. Just by coincidence [that flow again!] it belongs to an old climbing/tramping and ski touring mate Bruce from Ranfurly, and he is on his first prolonged “roadie” after building it for about a year. His setup is very different to mine [wood stove v. my hi tech diesel heater, height v. the length of mine, and possibly I’m lighter, but both demand the use our larger 4wd vehicles. It’s been fun to have brews at each other’s home and swap ideas as to how to live this way – experimentally for both of us. Btw this site costs us $7/person/night – no facilities except for “long drop” DOC Kiwi style toilets, which I find just fine…
Hawea River Swing Bridge

In the months it has taken to make these changes, and to keep my clients happy as I’m still working [not quite full time], I made an effort to get away regularly to keep my batteries charged. Thus I made two trips to Southland on photographic sorties. This shipwreck is near Bluff…
Shipwreck at Bluff

My cousin’s son got married in town too, and I was asked to do photos in her amazing garden…
Wanaka Wedding

I also kept up my regular volunteer work for the Dept. of Conservation. This kea was a bit sick – recovering I think from an injury in the West Matukituki Valley in Mt Aspiring National Park, and while cautious did not mind me getting up close…
Kea

My other trip to Southland was to Milford Sound for an overnighter in the back packers. I’d never visited this crazy tourist infected spot before for more than an hour or two. It turned out to be a delightful thing to do!…
Mitre Peak Milford Sound

Homer Tunnel en-route to Milford Sound
Homer Tunnel - Milford Sound

For both trips to Southland I was able to bypass Queenstown on my return by taking the public 4wd drive road through the remote Nevis Valley to Cromwell. It always takes me several hours as it is just so beautiful and photogenic, reeking of gold mining history too…
Nevis Valley

On another weekend I lived in style in a motel in Queenstown and did the long mt. bike ride up the Arrow River into the old historic gold mining ghost town Macetown [semi restored by DOC] to sample the autumn colours…
Macetown

Once again I attended the annual Autumn Art School in Wanaka in order to push my photography learning along. This was my best shot for the week. That is a chainsaw dangling – minutes later the tree top above the guy toppled down past him.

Earlier I mentioned “making space”. Well, it can be filled with creativity I think, which seems to be happening to me One way it manifests I suspect is in these photos! And somehow I seem more able to work very fast making them, probably because I’m not thinking much, yet taking time to let whatever story is inherent to reveal itself…
Wanaka Autumn Art School

More DOC volunteer work trapping predators in the Grandview Range between the Lindis and Clutha valleys…
Grandviews

Yet again more DOC volunteer work checking trapping tunnels in Matukituki Valley…
Matukituki Valley

Ice Puddle Matukituki Valley

A grab shot in rain and good light while driving through Wanaka, that I applied some new techniques to…
Plantation Road Wanaka

Another application of new found skills on trees in Lake Wanaka…
3 Lake Trees Wanaka

I made a couple of trips to Dunedin to see my son and do some other things, and found him in fine fettle. He now has a degree in chemistry and is continuing on doing papers in botany, archaeology and anthropology. A professional student methinks – I’m very proud of him…
Dougal Dunedin

Up the Matukituki Valley again – whew I now realisie the days in there have added up – delightful times!Matukituki Valley Matagouri

Rob Roy Mt Aspiring National Park

Local shots around Lake Wanaka again – often taken on my evening bike rides…
Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka Tree with Shags

A more recent trip into the Cromwell end of the Nevis Valley to experience it winter wise…
Nevis Valley

Nevis Valley

And now that cross country skiing is again possible I duck up to the Snow Farm regularly, but not this weekend as I have a mild head cold, and I think need a rest!…
Snow Farm

The Hawea River out my door is raging filling Lake Dunstan so us NZ’ers enjoy having power, except I’m now off the grid. I have to be quite careful getting my water by bucket…
Hawea River

A self portrait at the Snow Farm last Wed…
Snow farm nz

Lastly for photos, a delightful fantail on the Hawea River last evening…
a delightful fantail on the Hawea River

So now at last with space it is time to stay aware of self and the surroundings so as to follow that flow I talked of that just may come about when we follow our hearts, and don’t over think things!

Recently I was talking to my friend Bob McKerrow wayfarer and of International Red Cross and telling him of my changes and straight away he suggested I look up the work of Sterling Hayden. Bob quoted below in part, and I found it verbatim on the web.

So I here on-pay to you all Bob’s consideration and compliment:

From Sterling Hayden:

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… cruising, it is called.

Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer?

In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

and…

From Hayden’s introduction to Wanderer’s 1977 edition

“So it is no wonder that the mass of people regard the wanderer as a cross between a romantic vagabond and an irresponsible semi-ne’er-do-well who can’t – or won’t – fit in. Which is not to say that those who are fated to stay at home and toe the line do not look at the wander with envy and, yes, even awe, for he is doing what they would like to be doing, and something tells them they will never do it unless they either “strike it rich” or retire – and once retirement rolls around, chances are it will be too late. They know that too…..

It would be remiss if I didn’t add that if you want to wander, you’re going to have to work at it and give up the one thing that most non-wanders prize so highly – the illusion of security.

I say “illusion” because the most “secure” people I’ve encountered are, when you come right down to it, the least secure once they have been removed from job and home and bank account. While those unfortunate enough to be locked into some despised and unrewarding job are even worse off.

And if I have been favored with good luck all down through the years, I can also quickly single out scores of men and women spread around this beleaguered old world who, without “luck” have managed to live lives of freedom and adventure (that curious word) beyond the wildest dreams of the stay-at-homes who, when fresh out of school, opted for that great destroyer of men’s souls, security….

“They never taught wandering in any school I attended. They never taught the art of sailing a vessel, either. Or that of writing a book. It’s all so mysterious and – yes- enchanting. And that is what I suppose this book is all about. For whatever its merits, I would like to think that there is just as much of frustration and failure (call it lostness if you will) as there is of the free-swinging, far-rolling time when, however rough the going, you have the feeling, F*** it! I wouldn’t swap places with anyone else for anything on this earth.

Which is how I feel now, aged sixty-one and still more or less broke, slowing down in some ways and picking up steam in others, still with a roller skate on one foot and an ice skate on the other, yet only too well aware of the wisdom of the words:

“…But I think he swaggered
So he could pretend
the other side of Nowhere
Led Somewhere in the end.”
_H. Sewall Bailey

Local news

A fine autumn

Since returning from my work with DOC up the Matukituki Valley in Mt Aspiring National Park, I’ve been delighted to find myself in the midst of the the most beautiful autumn in Wanaka, The Southern Lakes and Central Otago. Here are a few images:

Wanaka Autumn Art School part 2, and my unrequited love

Well what a wonderful experience it’s been attending a learning and creative intense week on all aspects of landscape photography with such a good tutor as John Doogan and an outstanding group of fellow students. Here are a few of my images: Each afternoon we’d go to a different Wanaka location and spend a couple…

Wanaka Autumn Art School [progress report]

As mentioned a few days ago, I’d signed up to attend the annual 5 day Autumn Art School at Mt Aspiring College this year. Sort of got into it finally after 24 years of it’s legendary existence partly due to currently being on the committee that underwrites it and organises things. Here a few images…

Minaret barge pusher boat out of Lake Wanaka for survey

Some years ago Wanaka local identity and business man Sir Tim Wallis commissioned a huge barge to be built to service his Minaret Station up the lake from the Wanaka Makarora highway [the popular tourist route and only road to Haast and the West Coast]. The barge and pusher boat were built and assembled near…

Bracken and snow grass fire on Roys Peak Wanaka

While out walking tonight, I saw the start of a fire – a farmer’s burn-off going a bit wrong. I took awhile to hoof it home to get closer with my truck, but this had advantages light wise. Tripod and wet feet crossing Waterfall Creek both helped… my friend’s Alix and James doing a great job…

The Wanaka Show 2012

Technically it’s called The Upper Clutha A & P Show, and was first held in Cromwell in 1895. We’ve just had the 75th Show near the beautiful shores of Lake Wanaka, which is one of the most stunning settings in the country for an A&P Show. About 20 years ago a real local [you’re only…

A wild and beautiful late spring

It’s pretty normal to get some wild equinox driven weather this time of year in this neck of the woods in Wanaka, and this year has been no exception. What maybe an exception is I seem more “into it” this year. If I’ve got to concentrate on being in the moment, then that’s not what…

Chasing the Light, doing the mileage

The spring weather of late here in Wanaka has been very beautiful. Yes, unsettled but interesting and thankfully not the gales too often that underscore spring at 45 degrees south. It’s been very conducive for walking, and so too has my mindset: every evening I’ve been fortunate of late to wander many miles along Lake…

Old Haunts

I seem to have been all over locally in the last week. With springtime ski touring on x/c skis a “happening” thing [a firm snow base with soft on top really suits the narrow skis], but then there are the delights warmer temperatures bring, such as a bush walk at nearby Kidds Bush in Lake…

Walking my Wanaka neighbourhood

I’m not sure why exactly, but for the last few months I’ve been walking lots and sometimes even jogging when in the mood – often into the deep evening. So thought I’d share aspects of my neighbourhood with you. Springtime is a beautiful time of year here. I used to live in this street Cherry…

The pleasant aftermath of quite a storm

This weekend we’ve experienced the positive benefits of quite a spell of wild weather. Front after front dropped up to 2 meters of snow on the local ski areas, and probably double that back in the Southern Alps. It was a pretty unusual cycle though, as a lot of it happened accompanied by gale force…

Winter in Wanaka

I regret the silence here – due to writer’s fatigue I suspect. And currently after Telecom upgraded broadband in my neighbourhood I’ve been sans broadband. I apparently need a new modem, so that’s in the mail as they say. The snow and winter are late this year, but I don’t mind. Everything has a positive…