Te Maika – 19… fresh milk…

Our children certainly learned to get “up close and personal” with farm animals over the years… Several different species of animals roamed the paddocks of Te Maika. Sheep have been the most consistent and prolific and horses enjoy the freedom of unbounded grazing before being rounded up and driven (as in a horse drive) to Taharoa for breaking and possible sale, I guess. Cows and their young were once also grazed on the lush grass. Of course, there’s no need to mention the rabbits …

A few of the abundant birds around the bay.

and the  birds… some rare species, some not so rare,…  like geese that match the rabbits in number and far out-do them in noise!

Geese spend most of their time in the swamp behind the baches.

The animals have free roaming all over the peninsula since fences fell over and were never replaced. They visit the beach and water’s edge for their salt intake. They are our regular lawnmowers (and lawn fertilisers!) but barricades do need to be erected beside the bach when we’re absent as sheep love to shelter in the verandah and horses use the walls of the bach as scratching boards and shelter from prevailing winds and rain.

A horse and a lamb graze contentedly right outside our door.

These animals have provided much entertainment over the years. As mentioned in a previous post, my cousin and I rode the horses one year, and we have watched mares give birth a couple of times. The children now love to see how close they get to the foals (… not very…) and we love to see them gallop past the bach, along the beach and, ocassionally, wander into the water.

A mare leads her foal through the water in our bay.

One episode remains a “photo” in my memory… cows and their young were grazing right outside the window where we also happpened to be eating (or playing card games). One mumma cow was looking paricularly placid and full of milk, and one of our mums was feeling paticularly adventurous and bold.

“Quick, quick, get me a bowl!”

“Shhhh….. you lot keep real still…” Our Mum calmly went outside, bowl in hand, and approached the mumma cow, not uttering a sound. Mumma cow remained where she was quielty munching on the lush grass. Our Mum slowly approached her, placed the bowl under her udder, crouched down and reached for her teats….

Inside, we all held our breaths…

…Milk!! … one squirt… two squirts…

… oohhh… disappointment … mumma cow decided that was enough and moved on to fresh grazing grounds… well beyond the bach and pesky hands anyway!

And that was the end of the cows as they haven’t inhabited the penisula for several years…


Te Maika – 18… bumps, bruises and sore bums…

Cardboard cartons have numerous uses… usually involving packing and carrying of any number and size of a variety of goods… and such did ours… they were carriers of food to Te Maika.  But once that food had arrived and was unpacked those cartons were put to a much more fun activity…  transport for my brothers and me down grassy slopes.

We helped disgorge the contents of those cartons as quickly as possible because they then became ours! The bach is nestled into the hillside and, after a year of growth (except for the sporadic grazing of various beasts), the grass was long as were numerous prickly bushes among scattered around. The first attempts to slide down the slopes were more to flatten the grass and the prickles than anything but soon tracks were worn and it became a challenge to see who could slide the furthest, from the highest point and over the biggest bumps… until those cartons fell to so many pieces they were no longer ride-able!

Parents left us to explore new personal boundaries unless called upon…

“Mum! Dad! Come and see this jump!”

“Mum! Dad! Come and watch!”

Photographs were occasional and black and white so “moments” were not recorded every step of the way.  And accidents?… Don’t remember any of those either!

Hard plastic boogie boards don’t slide like cardboard… and the hill was more overgrown 10 years ago…

It seems that each generation of children seem to be little more cautious…Today’s children prefer to take old plastic boogie boards to the sand hills… are they afraid of the prickles and horse manure??  In truth, the grass and prickles have been taken over by bracken… much harder to break down and slide over than grass and prickles!


And last holidays, with all the grandkids, we rode hard plastic kayaks down the sandhill… the quest to reach the bottom of hills as quickly as possible is one that children (and adults) must conquer, it seems!


Te Maika -17… BBQs and bed-times…. well, pre-bedtimes….

Have you built a fire on the beach and cooked sausages, damper, marshmallows?   A true Kiwi experience to be savoured…. Each year we would make the annual trek over the hills or around the rocks to “Barbeque Beach”.

Looking down on Barbeque Beach.

Backpacks were filled with sausages, tomato sauce, damper dough, drinks, bread, butter, jam, honey, bananas, marshmallows, chocolate, paper towels, newspaper and matches and togs and towels. Barbeque beach was a sheltered little bay between rocky outcrops lining the coast.   If the tide was out we would clamber over and around the rocks, if the tide was in it was a trek over the hills and down a steep slope; the return trip home in reverse as the tide ebbed or flowed.

Once at the beach it would be all hands to the task bringing sticks and logs together to set the fire. The second most important task was to find suitable sticks on which to cook sausages and damper. Once that was all under control, the fire would be lit and left to die down until it reached the perfect heat on which to cook said sausages and damper. In the meantime, the children would scatter off to play in the waves, find caves to explore or check on the rock pools for swimming.

“Come and cook your sausages!” The call would go out and children would come from all directions. Sausages poked onto sticks, damper rolled around other sticks and tea would be served to oneself in five minutes or so – sausages inside damper and squishing out tomato sauce; or some would wrap the sausages in bread and save the damper for dessert – butter, honey or jam spilling out of the hot, freshly-cooked bread!

But our true dessert was something special…. Bananas sliced lengthways through their skins, filled with marshmallows and chocolate and placed on the embers of the fire. These would be left until one could see the chocolate and marshmallows melting and the banana skins turned black. Not everyone enjoyed the texture and taste of hot, soggy bananas but their contents were soon digested anyway! And then there were always the remaining marshmallows to roast on the fire….

Every evening …. games…  a card or a board game – no TV or internet or other such devices back then! And even when portable radios and CD players became the gift of choice for young people we banned them for a few years… “You might get sand in it and ruin it”….  Although the rule was not initially received very well and I was deemed not to be at all in keeping up with the times, any devices were soon forgotten!

The evening rule was “when you come inside you get ready for bed and we have a game.” This ensured the children stayed outside as long as possible to give the adults some peace inside and also to wear the children out as much as possible so they would collapse into a quick sleep without any shenanigans! A different game was chosen each night from the selection of cards games we knew or board games stock-piled on a shelf. And once during our week-long stay we must have a game of “Midnight” where torches were mustered and outside we would venture, under the stars. For the uninformed, in playing “Midnight” one person was “it” and the others would go and hide.  A spot was selected as “home” and the aim of the scattered would be to reach “home” before “it”. This game became a hilarious activity as ‘it” and the person running for “home” would trip and stumble in the dark sand dunes in their race to “home”.  It was not uncommon for certain children to forget to attend to toileting needs in excitement and amidst much laughter and having to take a quick break mid-game to change certain items of clothing!

The area around the bach where “Midnight” was played – under the stars.

Te Maika – 16… reminiscing… lights, BBQs and games

My children both loved our annual holidays at Te Maika. Initially we accompanied my parents and I had the added blessing of live-in babysitters (with nowhere to go!) but once my friends started coming up too, my father was happy to transport us over the harbour and leave us there for a week. Swimming, walking, beach barbeques, exploring, night-time games, rowing, fishing, clambering around rocks … what more could a child or teenager want??

One ritual which has now passed with the advent of solar lighting was the lighting of the lamp each evening. … the children clustered around the table; the lamp was lifted off its hook of wire hanging from a ceiling rafter; the kerosene tank at the base of the lamp was filled if necessary and then pumped to the “red line”. The small circular tray underneath the mantle was topped up with methylated spirits… ready to go… The meths was lit and all eyes were on the decreasing liquid in the tray as it evaporated and heated the mantle above. A little more pumping, another match ready for action and … an even bigger “whoosh!” as the gas inside the glass mantle cavity caught the flame of the match… flames flared and died and the ash mantle shone forth with a glow to light the room and, even more importantly, the table for playing whatever game was chosen for that evening.

We had a few mishaps over the years, as to be expected, and several times needed to take the lamp outside when the flames rose higher than expected, beyond the ceiling of the lamp. This, of course, put the bach at risk and was more likely to occur when the wind was blowing and the draught inside the bach made the flames flicker awkwardly. To remove the lamp outside on such occasions was not likely to solve any problems but there was no alternative if we didn’t want to lose the bach to a fire!

Several years ago these lamps were replaced with various high-powered torches and now solar panels on the roof of the bach allow us to have light at the flick of a switch. On a visit recently my daughter asked if we could light the old lamp simply because it was an experience she wanted to recall. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!), the lamps have been retired to a shelf well out of the way and the mantles are not available for purchase any more….

And what about beach barbeques…?? Read my next blog post…


Tekapo to Christchurch… sorry to be heading home…

All good things must come to an end, so they say… and sadly, this was the day we were to head home….

BUT… a couple of things to do on our way…

We had hoped for a dusting, or even more, of snow in the morning at Tekapo.  Alas, it was just another hard frost with snow just out of reach on the nearby hills. The weather was obviously cold but not too windy for a drive up to Mt John. I had hoped to do some star gazing at the observatory on Mt John the previous night but it was closed due to which winds so we star-gazed from the hot pools instead.

“The hills are alive with the sound of….. wind and flippin’cold!!” 

I still needed to take Rosemary and Steve to the lookout anyway so that is where we headed after breakfast. Well, I’ve never been so cold… 4 layers of thermals and/or wool and I could still feel the cold on my skin! Luckily Jim was alert to the wind direction and strength or the vehicle door could have been swiped off it’s hinges! There are brilliant views to be seen from the top but, after a quick walk around the cafe (the outside, that is) to see all that can be seen, a few “must-have” photos and we were really pleased to jump back in the vehicle and Jim and someone else enjoyed the luxury of the heated seats!

Another mandatory stop was at the church  fullsizeoutput_29f2and the sheepdog  [Info spot: to honour collies which the Scottish shepherds brought out with them to farm in the area.] on Tekapo Lake shore.
fullsizeoutput_29faThe wind wasn’t as bitter down here though we weren’t tempted to wander for long.  Jim and Steve had a chat to the church “caretaker” of the day while Rosemary and I wandered and took just one or two photos before taking a short drive around the eastern shore of lake. The Caretaker suggested a Pie stop on the way home …. we must do that as it will be our last chance.

And then we really did feel like it was homeward bound.

fullsizeoutput_29fc  Burke’s Pass is a quaint village with a group of unusual “shops” clustered on a bend in the road. And not far past that is Fairlie where it really does feel like we are “nearly home.” However, it is in Fairlie that we “must stop” to sample our final pies. The Bakehouse is the home of Lieber Pies, hand-filled with imagination, and well-known for many miles around.  I needed to compare the “Pepper Steak” with Sheffield’s “New York Pepper Steak”…. very close but I did feel Sheffield’s pie had a slight winning margin – though, as I said, I am definitely not a pie connoisseur!  We also tried the “Pork & Apple pie” and decided the pork would be better “pulled” rather than in chunks.

At Rakaia it was time for leg-stretch… jolly cold out of the car so that was short-lived! And then the most boring (actually, only boring) part of our journey…

We arrived home to gale-force winds and a very cold house… tempted to carry on and come back when we felt more welcome!

So, here ends my South Island travel blog. Would I repeat the trip? Absolutely! Would I travel with the same company? Well, we became such a well-oiled machine, who wouldn’t?… chef and shopper on board, dishes, breakfast, lunches, driver, packing, etc all down to a fine art… Next time I will ask Steve to cook with Rice Bran Oil, though, as I believe that has a higher smoking temp and we mightn’t have to open so many doors and windows just when we are trying to warm up a unit on a cold night! And I will ensure all units have separate bathrooms – not walk-through-bedroom ones – and well-equipped kitchens. And Jim will fix the CD player in the vehicle so we can have some music to sing along to – especially when we’ve heard enough of his “stories from long ago”! And Rosemary, well…. she can continue making perfect sandwiches and showing so much appreciation when it’s her turn to sit in the front on the heated seat!

Cromwell to Tekapo via Aoraki/Mt Cook … is it really there??

More rain as we left Cromwell [Info spot: Named after Oliver Cromwell. Previously known as “The Junction”, “The Point” and “Kawarau”]…. oh well, can’t complain… it is winter!  But some snow would be lovely… we do have chains and plenty of cold-weather coats.

fullsizeoutput_173Cromwell is “The Fruitbowl of the South” and has an interesting past. It was not only once a large gold-mining settlement but much of the old town was drowned to create a dam, now Lake Dunstan.  Some of the old town has been preserved (now called “Old Cromwell Town”) and is well worth a visit and wander. So many historic sites around Cromwell that we didn’t have time to visit but they’ll be there for another time.

The rain eased as we followed Lake Dunstan (Clutha River) northwards.  Another scenic drive though the Lindis Valley and Lindis Pass – New Zealand’s ever-changing terrain never fails to astound me no matter how many times I travel the roads!


“Antiques” and “Collectables” enjoy a spot of sun on the verandah!

A morning tea and  “pie” break was called for at Omarama. Glider pilots love the air here, near the southern end of the Mackenzie Basin. The skies are usually clear and empty providing accommodating updrafts. We enjoyed a hot cup of coffee sitting under the verandah of an antiques shop, closed for the winter months, and reading many amusing and quaint sayings through the door of the shop and around us. fullsizeoutput_29e8

Onward and upward, after buying some of the best-ever fresh salmon at the salmon farm by Twizel – a “must-buy” whenever we are passing.

Aoraki/Mt Cook is up there somewhere!

A left turn at Lake Pukaki and I’m looking for a glimpse of Aoraki/Mt Cook [Info spot: NZ’s highest mountain. Aoraki means “Cloud Piercer”]… oh, sad… it’s once again shrouded in cloud – the story of my visits! However, it is a lovely drive on an exceptionally well-maintained road (necessary for all the traffic, I guess!) Thank you to “Peter” who provided a wonderful viewpoint – as cold as it was!

It must be many years since I visited the tourist centre and Hermitage as I didn’t remember any of it – beautiful new(?) accommodation and restaurants; a well-stocked shop and the Sir Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre.  We agreed not to spend the time or money to wander through the centre – a pity is so expensive for NZers.  But we did think a weekend stay at the hotel was within the realms of possibility in the future. It was so cold outside the doors that we didn’t even venture along one of the many trails we had hoped to wander on to catch awesome views of the famous peaks somewhere up yonder.

Rain? sleet? snow flakes? on the windscreen at Lake Pukaki.

So back down the mountain road to Tekapo with thanks again to “Peter” at whose lookout we stopped for a sandwich – in the vehicle!


Another great lake view from our motel unit – this one of Lake Tekapo.

We were delighted to find that we had another brilliant lake view from our motel unit – and the unit was warm and welcoming, too. Rosemary, Steve and I braved the cold wind and icy air to stretch our legs with a wander around the shore to the Church of the Good Shepherd. Two of us called in to a very-touristy shop on our way back and had a browse in the warmth.

Church of the Good Shepherd at Tekapo from the new pedestrian bridge.

After another yummy tea, cooked by our resident chef Steve, we drove the short distance to the thermal pools for a delicious soak – definitely worth the chill running between the pools!


Te Anau to Cromwell… landscapes, cloudscapes and derelict buildings.

A wonderful sleep was had by all!! The rain arrived in the morning as it does for me whenever I visit Te Anau.  We agreed to take the slighter longer route to Cromwell rather than back-track to Queenstown.  It wasn’t long before we left the rain behind to enjoy the different and varied scenery through Southland farming country.


I wonder if I’ll ever see a pencil sketch of this…??

Old buildings squat in fields at frequent intervals and soon Jim declared that I should be taking photos of these to add to his “accumulation”.

“What accumulation?”

“The ones on the computer that I am going to draw with pencil one day.”

“Oooo…kaaay… ” (I’m not sure just what he was referring to here…) but, with this confession, we were then on constant lookout for old rundown and dilapidated buildings.

Not much left of this one…

Not only did the landscapes keep us focussed but so did the cloud-scapes. The rolling farmlands were luscious and green and above brilliant shapes and swirls spread before us in amazing displays of white on blue.

Amazing cloud formation.

“I know what we’re having for lunch ….! Jimmy’s Pies!”

“Jimmy’s Pies? You haven’t made any pies!”

“No, Jimmy’s Pies at Roxburgh – I used to stop there and buy a pie at Jimmy’s Pies when I was young on the way to the possum festival.”

Well, I guess if ‘Jimmy’ has been making pies since our Jim was a lad, and is still making them, they can’t be too bad!

And when we pulled up at Jimmy’s Pie Shop there were enough customers lined up for us to think we were on to something worth tasting!  I chose an apricot pie, being in the heart of apricot country, but as it wasn’t apricot season, this pie tasted like any other apricot pie much to my disappointment – my mistake!


Someone was trying to confuse us in Clyde.

Another stop at Clyde while Rosemary checked the wool and craft shop in her continual search for certain merino wool – she got lucky this time! Jim had a wander around the old buildings looking for earthquake damage… yes…we wondered about that too – it has just become a habit of his since working for several years with earthquake repairs here in Christchurch. We drove to the top of the dam, took a couple of terrible photos, and continued to Cromwell where it was, again, too wet and cold and miserable to do anything but find our accommodation and settle in for the night.