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While the bodies still can and we still have our marbles!

Month: April 2015

Karamea Konnections

The Karamea ANZAC service was held mid-morning.  Town folk gathered to hear a story about three Baker’s leaving the area to go fight and to fortunately return as five.  The rumble of restored army vehicles echoed across the basin  and made the experience just magic – who needed a fly over? Trying to convince the farmer to load up the turret machine gun and fire off a volley didn’t eventuate as much as me trying to convince BClaire to volunteer as the target.

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It was a further 17kms north by road till it ran out.  We had now driven the last of it as far as we could.  It ended at the start of one of NZ’s Great Walks within the Kahurangi National Park – the Heaphy Track.  I walked it back in the early 90’s and what takes 4-5 days by foot can now be mountain biked over 2-3 days.

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DSC02471A land line phone rang in the shelter, so I answered it.  The person on the other end asked for Martin.  Calling out his name, this lanky Irishmen came running over.  It was his transport call to organize his pick up.  Just the fact the phone rang like that had joking comments about his Mum calling to see if he was okay through to his pizza order confirmation – it had heads shaking and laughter abound and allowed new connections to be made.

Martin had just walked the Heaphy from the Collingwood end and was now getting ready to tackle another tramp from west to east called the Wangapeka Track (52 km).  It’s a tougher one with saddles over 1000 metres, the highest 1701.   Another seed sown for us to add to our ‘adventure’ list.


DSC02474The second bedroom handled the 14 km steep winding gravel road to the Oparara Basin Walks exceptionally well.  More spectacular was the Oparara Arch, a limestone formation at 219 m deep, 43 m high and 29 m wide.  Back at the carpark where a mum and dad were trying to bribe their moaning and groaning young children to walk up to it was made easier when I mentioned that you can find a pet rock to take home as big as Dad can carry.  And off they trundled!


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Our final sortie of the day ended at the ‘Last Resort’ for an ale.  The world is a small place when you connect with total strangers that are linked through personal associations – the camp caretaker knowing my Dad as the shuttle driver from Kaiapoi; the ‘Last Resort’ owner going to school with our friend Mandy in Greymouth; a woman girl friending a cousin from Amberley; and a woman from Picton remembering BClaire’s family when BClaire lived there aged 6.   It made for un-expected conversations, banter, laughter and too many re-hydration ales!

The camp kitchen during our time in Karamea allowed us to meet four young German tourists holidaying in New Zealand.  The dialogue around ANZAC Day and its significance made for all to make a comment about how they are not proud of their history when it comes to peace time commemorations about war.  They needn’t be.  The couple who joined us at the service were there of their own volition.  Although it was hard to imagine their emotions that they were feeling as the service was being given, we were pleased to be standing shoulder to shoulder with them.

The young fella had also walked the length of New Zealand, completing the Te Araroa Trail.  Little did he know that his presence had inspired us.  We now shift our focus to visit all our Face Book friends in person where ever they are located on the planet.

Karamea – a place where new konnections were made.

And the place where we celebrated the 100th year ANZAC Day commemorations.



Do you make the time to reflect on a day that was?

It’s become a daily T.I.M.E. habit – allowing one to ponder the positives so as to build on; and ponder the negatives so as the learn from.  Today was no different

24Completing the drive through to the Coast had us traverse the the Buller Gorge where deep ravines carve into the guts of New Zealand.  The road in parts, narrows down into single lane where red traffic arrows have to give way to white traffic arrows.


30Sometimes there is driver confusion rectified easily by one taking the courtesy high ground and reversing up, barriers to prevent anyone from driving off the edge to be swallowed up by the mighty Buller River.


29aHorse drawn carriages pre-modern transportation would have made for some nail biting travelling … and taken some guts!



18Berlins is a place where if you blink, you will miss it!  In-between blinks, we happened upon the roadside cafe/restaurant/accommodation and made the time to stop for a cuppa.  It ended up being lunch.  A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote about the West Coast delicacy with beady eyes called White Bait that are cooked into a patties.  Try not to make eye contact as you raise them to your mouth – that’s crawl!

8The giant Weta positioned on the bar is also something you do not want to make eye contact with … nor encounter one outside the jar!



41aThe Karamea Bluff elevates to 420m giving panoramic views of mountain, forest and sea.




Our second bedroom was soon positioned at the Karamea Domain where the total population of Karamea could all fit into the domain grand stand itself.


52It was 175kms travelled today to reach the spot that we wanted to wake up to for the ANZAC Day commemorations.  And the sunset had warmth to allow for reflecting.

But it also came with a mother nature reminder not to take things for granted.

Just off the route driven is a little township called Inangahua.  In 1929 and again in 1967, it was nearly wiped out by earthquakes.  And shortly before we arrived into Karamea, the ground shook from a 6.2 magnitude quake that was centered some 80 kims away over the ranges to the east.


It certainly had all the camp folk reflecting and pondering.


Two Bright Sparks with Rubbish Bags for Brains

6Taking a couple of days off the treadmill to venture back out onto the conveyor belt – destination Karamea.  Back in the direction of the West Coast, it was an hour up the road when a discussion erupted as to who didn’t pack ANY wet weather gear! It was a case of blame and no compromise – even though I work in the area of resolution, it was hopeless. Over the phone is much easier than in person!

Outcome, we reverted to our days of when we owned a childcare business, when we used to keep the little ones from paint and glue during an art activity. We purchased rubbish bags, cutting out the arms and head. If anyone saw two twits walking around in Reefton Rubbish bags – it’s was us!

We understand if you didn’t say hello.


The second bedroom was parked up in Reefton for the night. Reefton is famous for being the first place in the Southern Hemisphere to generate and reticulate its own electricity for public use in 1888.

Quite ironic given us two light bulbs didn’t have the spark to remember the rain coats!

A quaint little town with mining history, some of the buildings have stood since the late 1800’s. It’s worth a stop, wander, cuppa and read … the bookshop has bargain books at 50cents each.

A cloudless night made for lights out early, the solar system shone bright, who needed electricity?

And it wasn’t me who forgot the rain gear.

Maori ANZAC – Istanbul to Gallipoli By Foot – 360kms Walked

No matter the weather, as dawn breaks this coming 25th April 2015, hundreds and thousands of New Zealanders across our country will stand in silence.

It will be repeated across the ditch in Australia, where possibly millions will brave the dawn.

And finally again, where it all began, by those New Zealanders and Australians who have journeyed the pilgrimage to a place on the globe called Anzac Cove.  It’s a place on the Turkish peninsula, Gallipoli.

B5 The NZ CenitaphApril 25th is ANZAC Day for New Zealanders and Australians alike.  A day set aside to commemorate those heroes who lost their lives, or survived to go on to fight some more, or survived to return home.  It will be 100 years to the day since the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) soldiers, along with other Expeditionary Forces landed on the Gallipoli peninsula during World War 1.


B1 Anzac Cove4Their mission was to seize the Gallipoli peninsula and clear for the Royal Navy to capture the Turkish capital of Constantinople (now Istanbul).  However, the Turks defense held and when the Allies evacuated the peninsula some eight months later, almost 36,000 Commonwealth; 10,000 French and around 86,000 Turks had lost their lives to the campaign.

Bugles will echo ‘the last post’ tune – it always causes the hair to rise on the back of one’s neck.   And in mass unison, voices will utter the words “we shall remember them.”  It stirs emotions in both young and old, no matter where their footing will be on this coming ANZAC Day.

6 Istanbul to Gallipoli Travel MapThe footing for us personally holds a more significant place in our hearts, for three reasons.

Not many pilgrims to the Gallipoli peninsula traveling from Istanbul can say that they have stepped out the distance by foot to walk there.

We have.

To commemorate the 96th Anniversary in 2011, we took 21 days to cover the 360 km distance.   The vigil to stay up all night and freeze to experience the dawn service at ANZAC Cove was nothing compared to the ghosts of the past.  It was just special to be able to show respect.

B22 Anzac Day - some unsavory hour of the morningAwaiting the NZ Commemoration at Chunuk BairLone Pine6 - Ru & BC


Miltary base in BuyukcekmeceHouse in the GorgeGelibolu boats harbouring upAt our starting point for the dayFishing Stand2Sardine sandwich timeSea view looking from the Yenikoy RoadOn top of the worll!Some old war bunkersA monument along the coastlineRuins2Nine shags just shagging around.


The walk itself was raw.  It was breathtaking, it was humbling, it was character building, and it was sore legs after day three that had us abandon stuff from our packs so as to make it more easier going!  And this cemented reason number two why the time around ANZAC Day is significant.

Can you find ...After emptying the contents of my back pack onto my bed, what became important was kept and what was nice to have was left behind.  This habit grew more and more as we continued our noses towards Gallipoli.  It was foundational to the minimalistic lifestyle we now embrace where less is more to enjoy the freedom concepts it offers so as to do what matters most.

The third reason was the lineage to the historical events of yesteryear.  My Maori Poua (Grandfather) was an ANZAC soldier who went, fought and survived the campaign.  Shad Ruru in UniformAt the time, I wrote my thoughts into a poem …

Dear Poua Shad

Although we never me, I know who you are,

My Grandfather who went to Gallipoli, a land of distance far.

We came to see for ourselves, where you spent some fighting time,

To expose ourselves to history, and imagined how you shined.

The walk was hard and challenging, but we made it all the same,

It was the least we could do, to honor the family name.

ANZACs are spoken of highly, so we commemorate and remember you,

From all the Ruru Whanau, as they stand proud too.

ANZAC Day 2011, Gallipoli, Turkey

 Post card home from Shad

100 years ago come this 25th April 2015 … we shall reflect, we shall remember, we shall respect – them.

BIKING THE GREAT COAST ROAD – Part 2: Punakaiki to Greymouth

The room looked like a laundry mat drying room except for one difference, nothing had been washed.  Wet apparel was a combination of perspiration and mother nature.  The quicker you drifted off into sub-consciousness, the faster you weren’t sucking in the fumes of stench.  Keeping a window open invited the nightly blood sucking monsters and somewhere amongst it, we gained an hour of shut eye through day light saving!  All part and parcel of ‘life on the road.’

WP98 - 050415 Sunrise at PunakaikiWatching the sunrise on the West Coast in reality is more about watching the moon set.  A fellow backpacker aged 10 years rose early to share the experience.  That and a couple of games of Genga with BClaire before other souls fronted.


Short sleeves, sun block and shades were the barometer for the days ride ahead.  More insect goo to hide the pleasant smell of clothes re-worn.

WP108 Punakaiki is a must destination to visit on a travel itinerary.  30 million year old towering limestone formations form the renown giant Pancake Rocks.  Dolomite Point gives the best views and when the tide is at highest ebb, the blowholes shoot sea spray metres into the air similar to a whale exhaling air.


Shags with wings spanned open to catch the rays and dry feathers, rest before they swoop and plunge into the ocean swell.  I wonder if they stink if their cloaks don’t dry properly?!

The approach to carrying and eating meals went wonky after the first spoonful of soup touched the taste buds the day before.  So keeping with tradition, eggs and bacon from the cafe opposite the pancakes were gobbled down as we witnessed the hordes of tourist traffic arrive and depart.  This meant contending with passing buses on the narrow road south with similar coastline ridden, also as the day before.

WP144The Barrytown settlement (population 15) had an old pub turned backpackers for sale.  Photo’s of nudity and frolicking collaged walls not leaving much to the imagination.  A Fantail bird flying around the rafters made for uneasiness, Maori folklore would have one believe it signals death.

WP147Coal mining surpassed gold mining to sustain the economy on the West Coast and for a small part of the year, the Tasman sea is awash with the scrumptious delicacy – whitebait.  Transparent beady eyed 2inch fish when cooked in batter turn white and when dipped in tomato sauce, turn the colour of yum!


WP155Runanga was the last township cycled through before we hopped off the bikes for the last time.  Another coal mining township, a coal bucket statue pays tribute to the many that have forged deep into mountainsides or down mine shafts to extricate the black gold.  There was something reflective about the smell of coal burning wafting through the air bringing back childhood memories of an open fire, a red glow and hot heat.  Runanga too has had its share of being a hot spot – it was the last place in the South Island to execute a convicted killer by way of hanging; and in 1967, 19 miners lost their lives due to a mine explosion.

The Great Coast Road has so much more to offer – caving and tramping, horse trekking, surfing, gemstone hunting, heritage sites, art and craft activities, glow worms and gold panning to name but a few.  Attractions left open for a future time.

WP163And although Greymouth was our destination, we peddled a few more kilometres to Dobson where friends Lloyd and Vivien hosted us at their batch they are renovating.  Before the tools were downed and the cork of a wine popped to salute the two days bums on seats, Lloyd cut and nailed a bed together for Alannah.  It was positioned in the kitchen beside the stove, a nice way for Alannah to switch back into suburbia the next day.

We too started the transition; the dozen sausages carried by BClaire from Westport to Greymouth by bike, were at last eaten.

BIKING THE GREAT COAST ROAD – Part 1: Westport to Punakaiki

WP15The chap draped in gold wearing stubby shorts and cowboy boots reminiscent of an 80’s porn star had two sentences of advice for us, as we exited the New World supermarket .  “If you can’t see the mountains, it’s already raining.  If you can see the mountains, it’s about to rain.”

And damn it, he was right.

Laden with worldly belongings for the two days cycle touring, it was only a matter of pedal rotations before the heavens opened up and down came the moisture from above.  The vehicle spray creep slowly into the abyss of our butt cracks yet as a threesome, we grimaced the landscape undulation to reach Charleston some 25kms later.


WP41Biking from Westport to Greymouth seemed a great idea by our friend Alannah who knew we would be up for the adventure.  I could only imagine what was going through her mind as we sat hovered over hot soup and toasted bread peering through the blurred glass windows at the torrential rain.  But we knew that the conditions were a test of stamina … resist a third bowl of soup; re-cloth in the wet clothes; and re-saddle to keep going.

WP57The Lonely Planet describes the stretch of road we were traveling as one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world.  The Paparoa National Park didn’t disappoint with rainforest at times coming right down to the sea.


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The beaches that skirmish the foreshore is home to the world’s smallest penguin however, our attention was on safety so as not join the road kill frequently evidenced atop our bike seats – opossum, pukeko and weka.  Oh, and the hedgehog of course.  Nikau Palms, the type you see in desert oasis are dotted across the landscape in their hundreds of thousands, lush and green.  We did wish the sand flies were too only found in the desert as well.  When we stopped to absorb the view or rest after a climb, they were unrelenting at feeding off any bare skin not covered or lathered in Bushman’s 80% Deet repellent.

WP94The grind up to Irimahuwhero Lookout gave the greatest views of the raw rugged coastline, both north from where we had originated, to the south and our destination Punakaiki.  The distance covered was only 51kms, a fair and reasonable start to getting back on the bike after the bike crash last year and for Alannah’s introduction to cycle touring.


We often believe that some our best conversations have been had in a backpackers except we ventured some more to frequent the tavern and meet some locals.WP97a Not once did we meet anyone who was born and bred on the Coast with extra body parts that is often rumoured.

The weatherman porn star earlier in the day wearing his cowboy boots did stride kind of weird though.

Perhaps the weight from all his gold?  Or the tightness of his stubby shorts?  Or an extra couple of toes!