Monday, August 31, 2015

Rain, More Rain, And Final Four NZ Flag Designs

Kia ora, friends. As I write at 4 pm Tuesday it's been raining steadily for 15 hours, the low roar of the ocean a muted presence. We've had some strong gusts, but happily the weather people seem to have overestimated the winds here.

The final candidates for the NZ flag redesign were announced today. Which is your favorite? Richie McCaw clearly favors the silver fern that adorns his uni.

According to Māori legend, the silver fern once lived in the sea. It was asked to come and live in the forest to play a significant role in guiding the Māori people.
Māori hunters and warriors used the silver underside of the fern leaves to find their way home. When bent over, the fronds would catch the moonlight and illuminate a path through the forest.
This distinctly New Zealand symbol is considered a badge of honour by the people, products and services of our country that carry it.
The silver fern is Prime Minister John Key's favourite symbol and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has also spoken out in favour of the silver fern.
I like the koru flag
The koru (Māori for "loop"[1]) is a spiral shape based on the shape of a new unfurling silver fern frond and symbolizing new life, growth, strength and peace.

The stars symbolize the Southern Cross, which I spotted one inky night in Moeraki.
For the lucky residents of the Southern Hemisphere, or those fortunate enough to enjoy a vacation in Hawaii or Cancun, there’s a stellar delight that few Northerners know about. It’s called the Southern Cross, a small but beautiful constellation located in the southern sky, very close to the neighboring constellation of Centaurus. Originally known by the Latin name Crux, which is due to its cross shape, this constellation is one of the easiest to identify in the night sky. 

I guess the laser-shooting kiwi flag got knocked out in early rounds. This young guy is funny:
His kiwi shooting green laser beams out of its eyes was just a "random inspiration" mocked up in Microsoft Paint one night, he said.
"You look at Australia, they've got all sorts of deadly animals," he explained."We don't even have one. I thought it was about time we had one."

Lazy day here, reading, napping, sipping tea with local honey. Look where these bees forage...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Storm Warning

Remember those spring lambs...and the spring rains that come with them? Our campground guy just popped round to tell us that up to 5.5 inches of rain and winds as high as 87 mph are potentially heading this way tonight. Further complicating matters is the tide, which is at its peak due to that gorgeous full moon. In a past similar event, gale force winds under a full moon pushed the water all the way up to the first row of caravans ("I'm sailing!").

I may have to get this book on moas, a current minor obsession
The moa were the most unusual and unique family of birds that ever lived, a clan of feathered monsters that developed in isolation for many, many millions of years. They became extinct reasonably quickly after the arrival of the Maori, and were a distant memory by the time European explorers arrived. So the discovery and identification of their bones in the 1840s was a worldwide sensation, claimed by many to be the zoological find of the century. This book begins by recounting the story of discovery, which was characterised by an unbelievable amount of controversy and intrigue. Since then there has been an unbroken chain of new discoveries, culminating with intriguing revelations in recent years about the moa's biology, that have come to light through DNA testing and radio-dating. 
The campground guy suggested we move the caravan (away from our incredible views!) to behind a wind-buffering row of shrubs. Crazy weather people crying wolf?

We moved.

A deep low lying west of the North Island is expected to move over the South Island on Tuesday. Associated fronts are expected to move across northern and central New Zealand today (Monday) and Tuesday morning. These fronts are preceded by strong to gale east to northeast winds, with outbreaks of heavy rain expected about northern and central parts of the North Island and the upper South Island. A SEVERE WEATHER WATCH is also in force for many parts of northern and central New Zealand for this event.

The strongest winds are forecast for Nelson west of about Motueka, Buller and northern Westland from about midnight tonight, where severe gales with damaging gusts of 140 km/h are forecast, although gusts could possibly exceed this about western areas north of Westport. People are advised winds of this strength can damage structures, powerlines, and make driving hazardous.

Art a couple hours ago on the beach, tide out 
(look at that light)

You know you've been here five months (to the exact day) when the guy mentions MetService--Meteorological Service of NZ--and you know what he's talking about.

All this talk reminded me of Bonnie Raitt's hauntingly beautiful song Storm Warning. Listen...(trouble click here).

Tide warning
already been a flood of my tears...

On Golden Bay

Yesterday's pounding rain ushered in a sun-drenched morning. Way past time for a beach walk. In the first part of the pan in the distance you can see Farewell Spit, northernmost point on NZ's South Island (trouble viewing click here).

This is the Tukurua Beach our campground borders, and while mostly sandy the tide brings in rocks, a few shells, driftwood, and giant trees. High tide.

 Our old friend the oystercatcher, handsome as ever in basic black with orange accents.

Blooming beach plant, a succulent I'd guess.


 The tide receded hugely during our walk, and the beach was three times this size by late afternoon.

View from the caravan window, sans rain

After a little conversation with the woman who runs the camp, we hit the road for Collingwood (population 235), about halfway up the Golden Bay arc and at one time considered for the county's capital.
"Farewell spit" by primarily: en:wikipedia; secondary NASA WorldWind. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -

Golden Bay abounds with artists--potters, painters, fish plate makers.

Here's The Courthouse Cafe, formerly the Collingwood Courthouse, built 100+ years ago. Gold was discovered nearby in the 1850s, and Collingwood turned into a thriving port town.

 I liked the private dining room.

This picnic table is big enough for everyone--where are you all?

The Queen of Flat Whites is feeling a bit peckish.

Rising in the distance, Kahurangi National Park, home to the Heaphy Track, one of NZ's Great Walks.

We visited Collingwood's tiny museum and were immediately thrust into the past. This book title says it all.

We decided to try to find a house Art saw listed for sale. The drive took us through some gorgeous country.

After locating the place north of Collingwood near Pakawau, we drove to a beach access nearby. And found an entirely different beach, as though the 15k from our campsite beach were 150k. This one was encrusted with small shells and elegant sea creatures.

Scallop shell

Not hard to find from the beach--there's a sign here too. Someone's home. Should we approach or shouldn't we? Five minutes of conversation and we decided why not. "We sold it yesterday," the woman of the house told us happily.
 The beach looking south.

Back at our place, cocktail time. I'm happier than I look.

Full moon in Pisces tonight

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Spring Showers + Spring Lambs

Leaving Kaiteriteri for Golden Bay today, we revisited the twisting, turning road that climbs 2500 feet over 20 miles. If you remember this post with photos I shot over the edge on our test trip here, you have a sense of the dramatic views below. Today, engulfed in fog and a light rain, there was little to see except the near road ahead.  

We left on a Saturday to avoid the light truck traffic that does squeeze cars a bit coming head-on, and remember we were towing the caravan this time. Art drove expertly, though, despite the weather, which became more blustery toward the top and quickly morphed into a full-scale downpour as we made our way along the curve of the bay to our campground, recommended by The Cheese Lady (remember her?), who grew up here.

It's a remarkably sited camping spot, sitting almost literally on Tukurua Beach. But until the rain stops, you'll have to take our word for it. Or imagine what this view out our front window looks like when the rain isn't thrashing the shore just beyond those chairs.
Maybe I should have checked the NZ Herald for the story I saw only after we got settled in...
Batten down the hatches - spring is on the way and its first week brings wet and windy weather. Tuesday marks the season change and by then much of New Zealand will be in the grip of a wild system carrying lashing winds and heavy rain.  
And yet there are lambs...
Spring lambs, Cornwall Park, Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig, NZ Herald on Sunday