A significant 21st and a trip to a church in the back of beyond

Twenty one years of being a dad, and what a privilege!

There are many versions of the story – here is one:

Redford [aka Dougal – he legally changed his name a couple of years ago] had a sense of style and fun from day one…
Hats on Dougal Lousley

And a significant sense of curiosity in all things natural. Here it’s obvious, with a more cautious mother in tow on some ice on Lake Benmore, while Sarah our lovely lab at the time checks the wind for rabbits…
Ice on Lake Benmore

Sarah had eight pups and until we found homes for them all, we had a very willing small helper…
Dougal Lousley and Sarah the lab with pups

There came a day when his interest and love of animals manifested with an award at the local Wanaka Show Pet Parade, with a subsequent picture in the local newspaper of the day…
Dougal Lousley and pet parade

From an early age I was blessed to have him as my “expedition” companion, and we joined up on one trip with an old friend Sarah Glasson and her family for a 4wd trip into Macetown one autumn…
Macetown in autumn

An agenda for fun, but at this point I was not sure just how gathering leaves was going to play a part…
Macetown in autumn, playing in leaves

And why not make the pile deep enough to dive into!
Macetown in autumn, playing in leaves

Trips on foot slowly got more ambitious as he grew. Tramping in West Matukituki valley, Mt. Aspiring National Park…
Tramping in West Matukituki valley, Mt. Aspiring National Park

Hooker River swing bridge Mt Cook National Park…
Tramping in West Matukituki valley, Mt. Aspiring National Park

Winter activities included cross country skiing competitively at the Snow Farm, up the Cardrona Valley…
Snow Farm Youth Academy member Dougal Lousley

Good friend Riley Wilson and D. decide to barbecue a chicken. Yes, its a snow chicken and if I recall it melted faster than it cooked…
Riley Wilson and Dougal Lousley cooking a snow chicken

When he was about 10 yrs. old I decided to take a punt. Since I’d been the inseparable house dad until this time of divorce from his mum. I bought us an expedition type vehicle so as to not only keep up the bond, but build on his growing curiosity in nature. It worked a treat…
Seeries 90 Land Cruiser camper in NZ snow

And so the expeditions began in earnest and for a few years incorporated the adventure yacht Elwing as we headed south each holidays. Me indulging my romance with the wilderness, him exploring under every rock, fishing, plant identification. And most of all being exposed to great male mentors such as my friend the skipper Arthur White.

Heading out of Doubtful Sound enroute south to Dusky Sound in July 2005…
Entrance Doubtful Sound, Fiordland coast NZ

At the helm off the most exposed wildest and remotest coast in New Zealand…
Fiordland coast NZ

But this evening the world in terms of westerlies, swells and waves was at peace…
Fiordland coast NZ

The fishing is pretty good down there in places – Dusky Sound…
Dusky Sound fishing

Keeping shipshape – Duck Cove in Dusky Sound…
Duck Cove Dusky Sound

On this adventure we were literally following in the footsteps of Capt Cook. While taking a break from nearly circumnavigating Antarctica in the 1773 he and the crew rested in Dusky for a month, and charted Dusky naming such places as Wet Jacket Arm, Luncheon Cove, Pickersgill Harbour etc. Each name telling a story, and one we followed with enthusiasim

The best photo on that trip was taken by Redford, a selfie really, as that is his reflection – Acheron Passage Dusky Sounddolphin pod Acheron Passage Dusky Sound

Bedraggled in the rain he and I wait for a pickup by the Elizabeth river in Doubtful Sound after we made an attempt to find a lake upstream – we ran out of time in the dense wet bush. Still it was good to get some exercise…
Elizabeth river in Doubtful Sound

It was a magical trip due to the cold, and consequently some to the sounds were iced over. Here we are on a recce to check the ice thickness, as even the thin ice was wearing into the paint on the kauri hull..
Crooked Arm Fiordland - in winter

It felt very lonely [not helped by the noise] in a rubber boat in sharp looking ice this far away from Elwing…
Crooked Arm Fiordland - in winter

What allowed us to explore further was a Real Journeys steel hull tourist boat, that passed us and broke the ice. But neither of us got much further, as it rapidly became easily 300mm thick…
Crooked Arm Fiordland - in winter

Before enlightenment do the laundry, after enlightenment do the laundry…
100 2104

The next trips we headed further south – Redford surveys Port Pegasus on Stewart Island from Magog…
Port Pegasus on Stewart Island from Magog

The summit of Bald Mt., Port Pegasus Stewart Island…
Bald Top, Port Pegasus on Stewart Island

So that was the “real” world, back here other activities were pursued. Dance and drama every Friday night has worked wonders for a whole generation of Wanaka young folk…
Dance and drama Wanaka

Which instilled a familiarity with social skills – school formal here with his good friend of old, Anna. Now they flat together with another Wanaka local – they’ve always been so supportive of each other since primary school and earlier. I think this is a blessing during the teenage years…
Mt Aspiring College school formal

And before I knew it he was in Dunedin living at a hall of residence and doing a three year degree in chemistry [achieved this year]…
St Margarets Dunedin

And occasionally I’d be on bus duty, as he’d come and go occasionally…
Wanaka bus service

Frequent fishing trips to nearby Poolburn in Central Otago, but a pleasant memory, often escaping the summer heat. This was his first really significant “catch”…
Brown trout catch Poolburn

A blast from the past…

So on Redford’s 21st birthday last week I suggested a trip in the camper truck, and lo… mid week we headed off and due to the forecast Poolburn seemed a good bet, but I also suggested that if the track was dry we could visit the elusively remote Serpentine church he’d never seen. A restored relic from our rich gold mining history.

I say “elusive” as there are no sign posts – just rumour and farm tracks at a moderately high altitude and so some local knowledge is required. I’m not sure where I got mine from, but probably “a little bit here, a little bit there”. The road is an off shoot from the old Dunstan Road which I use quite often time permitting – it was the first access route for wagons into Central Otago and the Lakes, as apart from going up and down it heads pretty much in a straight line from Outram near Dunedin through to Tarras and it essentially avoids having to cross the Clutha River. The down side is of course snow closes it in winter.

The funny thing was that just a few days before R’s birthday an old mate Bruce called in while doing a road test of his 3 tonne house on wheels he’s been building in Ranfurly. Apart from getting caught up in a tree on the footpath all went well…
House on wheels Rata St Wanaka

Then a few days later as R and I topped the ascent to Poolburn in the dusk, he said “is that Bruce?”. And lo… it was. So we stopped off for a few laughs and cuppa with some Xmas fruit cake we had with us, and some banana cake B had. All quite special really…
Poolburn

After the cuppa we carried on to camp a bit closer to our destination. I could have got to the church in the dark, but no point as it’s quite a scenic drive, and besides we had plans to bike parts of it.

A perfect Poolburn dawn with no wind – a rarity…
Poolburn

There is an old rabbiter’s hut enroute to the church
Poolburn to serpentine church 17

Poolburn serpentine church rabbiter's hut

Biking change over…
Poolburn serpentine church  road

Lots of sky…
Poolburn serpentine church country side

Poolburn serpentine church track

Poolburn serpentine church road

Poolburn serpentine church road fence

The wind returns…
Poolburn serpentine church 9

The Serpentine Church…
serpentine church central otago

Note the rocks holding the roof down…
serpentine church

serpentine church interior

serpentine church sign

serpentine church sign

serpentine church altar

All too soon we had to leave – the decision was a little bit weather driven as the track would be a slithery nightmare when it’s wet…
Serpentine church track

We stopped for a “look-see” by this intriguing gully where the tors are closer together than normal…
Poolburn serpentine church tors

While placing my last photo above what strikes me is those are the shoulders of manhood… and how elegantly he got there!

I’ve learnt much wisdom from him during my part in the process – much to be grateful for. Given the chance I think I’d do it again!

About this Like Minds Blog Donald Lousley

  1 comment for “A significant 21st and a trip to a church in the back of beyond

  1. January 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Kia ora e hoa – a great tribute and story of life.

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