Quick Catch-up

i have been remiss in keeping up-to-date on my travel adventure So!


In quick order since I need to get out to teach this morning…


Investigated Nicola’s willow patch and found signs of aphids and cycadas- she will need to spray!


Got my hair trimmed – so much better now!


Visited the Whareriki (sp?) beach and saw seal pups up close – the rest of the family nearby. Hilly track from car park to beach.


Visited the Farewell Spit beach where the huge number of whales beached during the past summer. Low tide land stretched forever – easy to see how they beached.


Found another baby whale recently made next to the big one – the family continues to grow!


Met one of the weekend tutors – she and family live on a huge skow that they sailed in on, are fixing up and intending to sail out again on in the future!


Ready for for the Go Wild Iwth Willow Weekend to start shortly -should be great! Gotta run!

More on the Whales

The town is still buzzing with the excitement from the driftwood whale building!

View from the tail/fluke – body still needs filling in and rounding up. It eventually had a dors

Four of the smaller whales closer to the tide line – each whale needed a spout of water coming out of a blow hole!

The bay at low tide/evening – looking east.


So far the big whale and baby next to it have not been affected by the tide much as there have been decreasingly lower tides since the weekend.  But there have been additional smaller whales built nearby by unknown visitors to the beach.


Quite wonderful that folks have felt empowered to create temporary art on the beach!

Whale Building

A glorious day to build a whale!


Nicola and I had scouted out the best location and possible set of ‘bones’ to start with on Friday with fingers crossed that the intervening tides would not change things much. Our favorite bones were still there but headed in the wrong direction to have the whale headed out to sea. So, with a bit of flinging away of sand and a couple extra bodies, we pushe and shoved it around to face the water.


The official whale building started with a Maori blessing of the water and all it gives. And then we got at it. We were a bit afraid it would be jus the two of us all day (plus Erhardt the photographer) but shortly after noon groups of people started to arrive. We set them to work gathering large pieces of driftwood and they were super at scouring the beach for just the right pieces.

Lots of kids showed up, too, and had great fun collecting and adding in wood. Our youngest builder was just one year old. We had grandparents, teens, young adults – every age and relationship demographic possible.

The community builders were so energetic about the whole idea that they took ownership of the project – and everyone had their own idea of what kind of whale was being created and what it should look like. Eventually the big whale was proclaimed a sperm whale, complete with spout.  And all this was finished in an hour and a half! We had till 6pm to be building in the beach!


So, we built babies. Pilot whales (sleeker and smaller than sperm whales). First one, then another closer to the tide line, then another… Eventually there were 6 smaller pilot whales all ready to swim to sea as soon as the tide hit them. A total of 8 whales built!


And at the very end of the building, a guy with a drone camera came to tack pics from the air.


The project ended as it began, with a Maori blessing.


High tide was due again at midnight – Nicola and I were back at the beach about 10:30pm to see how all the whales were faring. The first fiour along the tide line were already adrift in pieces; we watched as the next two were taken apart by the tide. Going back in the morning to see how the big one survived as only its nose should have been hit by the tide at this point. It should survive until the next new moon when the tide is expected to be very high again.


Great fun, great community togetherness, great spot on this earth! (More pics in a follow up post soon.)


Friday in Collingwood…

… was a mix of showers, sun and rainbows.


After doing a bit of laundry which we spread throughout the house to dry, my lovely hostess, Nicola, and I checked out the beach for the driftwood and whale scene. The cyclone had definitely changed the amount of driftwood available, burying tons of wood under the sand. But we have some good ‘backbones’ to work with for the community build today. The cyclone also dumped a lot  of rain which we had to wade through to get to the actual beach.


Saw a bit of the gorgeous countryside including the Devil’s Boot rock formation: (having technical difficulties in uploading those pics – will try again later).


Sampled two favorite local eateries and enjoyed the company of some of the locals. Nicola also shows me the rudiments of basket making with flax – great material!


Mostly sunny predicted for today – Hope it holds true for our community driftwood build! Will post results later. Off to the beach!



Travel adventure!

Immediately after class was finished on Wednesday I joined another tutor in an express drive to Sydney for an overnight stay with one of my students. We both had flights out Thursday and were grateful to have the hospitality and transportation.


Beating the the morning rush hour, I was driven to the nearest train station, hopped on the train to city central, changed trains for the airport, got my flight to Wellington, NZ and …. Waited. A cyclone was doing its thing over the NZ islands which had caused a number of flight cancellations the day before and was continuing the routine this day.  We had flown above and through clouds all the way from Sydney and really could not see the ground until we were almost touched down.


I had booked a flight on a small local airline to take me directly to Golden Bay, the northwestern tip of the south island. The afternoon flight to Wellington was delayed which meant we were delayed in leaving Wellington. A group of four women trekkers/hikers shared the flight for a total of 6 (including pilot) on the plane – it’s maximum!

I got to be copilot – way cool even though I did nothing but sit there and watch! Chris, our pilot, was good, getting us through the clouds, rain and wind with hardly a bump. We raced the sun even though we couldn’t see it since the airport at Takaka/Golden Bay had no lights. Unfortunately we ran out of daylight after we had already passed Nelson so we turned around and made a very decent landing in Nelson.


Managed to get a bite to eat at the Nelson airport (pumpkin frittata piled high) while waiting for the van from the Takaka airport to scoop us up. The trekkers needed a grocery store stop since most businesses were scheduled to be closed on Friday due to the holy day/holiday. The drive from Nelson to Takaka was about 1.5 hours and up/down a mountain with lots of twists and turns. Must be beautiful to see – all we saw was the rain on the road.

So, what should have been an arrival of 6pm or so turned into a getting picked up after 10pm. Straight to bed!