Sunday, 12 October 2014

Chicks and Camping

We've successfully finished off our time as Wwoofers and all said and done it's been a really positive experience. Alastair and Suzie have been great hosts and we've enjoyed getting stuck in to all the jobs around the place. We've had our last four working days this week and we've spent them doing everything from mowing lawns, to making cheesecakes (homemade cheese of course), to laying gravel on the parking area.

We've been putting a big push into the car park as this is a task we started on our first day at Earthstead, slowly clearing the weeds and taking it back to sand, and we didn't want to leave without seeing it finished. Thursday afternoon was spent collecting trailer loads of gravel from the neighbours house and spreading it over the area and with everyone working on it the transformation was very quick and very satisfying to see.

Friday saw us saying our goodbyes to those at Earthstead and moving on to the next part of our trip... several weeks of travelling, camping and seeing what we can of New Zealand. It's a strange feeling to be free and on the road again after our three weeks of wwoofing but I'm sure we'll settle into it soon enough. Last Sunday saw us spending time with Al and Suzies family, and for Joe that meant helping with the butchering of a couple of deer that had been shot by Al's nephew the day before. It seems that hunting is much more prevalent and seen as the norm here - something we're having to adjust to. In return for his help Joe was given a bag of venison steaks and we've been feasting on those this weekend - nothing like starting our camping trip with some quality food. 

We're heading for the South Island at the start of next week and so the plan for the weekend was to get from Cambridge to Wellington in three legs. We started our travels with a visit to Maungatautari Ecological Reserve - an area of land that is kept predator free to safeguard the native birds. We had an interesting couple of hours wandering along the forest tracks watching the fantails dance around us and the kaka work their way around the trees on the hunt for something tasty - making good use of the binoculars we borrowed for the trip. 

The rest of the day was spent driving to our first campsite. New Zealand is scattered with campsites run by the department of conservation which we intend to use regularly. They are very reasonably priced (often free, as Fridays was) and have limited facilities but are situated in the quiet peaceful spots that we love about camping. This particular one caught our eye because it was well positioned for Saturdays drive - a trip along the "forgotten world highway".

This took us most of the day and lived up to all our expectations. View after view opened up and we really did feel like we were in the middle of nowhere. The landscape was all wonderfully hilly and the road wound it's way along ridges and through passes, and at times became just a gravel track before returning to tarmac again. We've commented multiple times since arriving here about how the hills seem pointier than we'd expect. I'm not sure how else to describe it but these are certainly not England's rolling hills. As we were travelling along this highway Joe's description was "it feels like North Wales... But squashed together" - and that's about as close as we're going to get to putting a finger on the difference.

We spent most of Saturday in the car with the expeception of a detour to see Mt Damper Falls (yes another waterfall - get used to it) which was a very pleasant 20min walk through farmland and another impressive drop with a beautiful valley stretched out beneath it. It was well worth the stop, particularly as the weather was lovely and sunny. The forgotten world highway finishes in Stratford and we stopped for icecream (just the one tub!) before making headway for the campsite on the seafront near Whanganui. A very pleasant campsite and being right on the beach and we couldn't resist an after dinner wander, We had to dodge the occasional car as apparently driving on the beach is quite normal, and were astounded by the amount of driftwood that had been washed up along it - there were huge pieces of wood just sitting there for the taking and left us wondering what we would do with it if we lived a little closer!

And that's where this weeks story ends except to leave you with a photo of one of Earthsteads latest arrivals; seven Arucana chicks.


  1. The next leg of your journey sounds so exciting, have a great time!
    (Love the chicks :) )

  2. So beautiful. What a country!

  3. julie.sisley@gmail.com12 October 2014 at 19:49

    Sounds great fun, such a beautiful country.


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