The New Zealand Diaries: wilderness wonder (07/01/2016)


It is 8am and all around me, the world is quiet, apart from the odd passing car on the Lewis Pass, the distant sound of the river and a gentle, persistent buzzing from bees flies and (unfortunately) sandflies in the bushes and grass behind me. What you see on the photo is the view I am able to enjoy here at the Marble Hills Department for Conservation (DOC) campsite on the West Coast end of the Lewis Pass. The picture was taken at the end of the day yesterday, after my tired body could take no more driving, as the sun was slowly beginning to set. The colour display was truly incredible—all shades of green, brown, red, and the yellow-golden tinting of grass and flowers ahead of me turned this basic, 5 dollars a night, campsite, into five-star accommodation. No shower, no hot water would ever compensate for this beauty.


An added perk here are the many, many birds. As I was sitting writing a letter last night,  I heard the gentle flutter of tiny wings and when I turned my head lightly to the left, a New Zealand robin had come to sit on the arm of the camping chair beside me. Turning his head from side to side, he eyed me, then hopped onto the grass and explored the environs of the campervan. Later, as I wandered down to the water tap to fill up my water bottles, another robin hopped into the puddle beside me. He  waded through it with his long delicate legs, then dared to venture close to me and took a peck at my jeans………a short while later, he developed an active interest in my walking shoes and proceeded to pecking at the mud embedded between the soles with great fascination. What a glorious, curious little creature…..I am so excited to have met him


After this encounter, I checked my bird book and rejoiced over how many native and introduced birds I have been able to see so far here in New Zealand. Aside from numerous sparrows and black–birds, as well as my demanding pet duck at the campsite in Kaikoura, I have so far seen  a parakeet at Mount Maunganui, welcome swallows in flight and the black and white red/orange legged pied stilt (both t Wai-o-Tapu geothermal pools),  a magnificent bell-bird, song thrushes,  a blue-green coloured New Zealand pigeon, a pheasant and the funny gargling Tui at Lake Waikaremoana, the Myna on countless occasion as I was driving on the North Island, including in Rotorua, and now my little friend the robin. I feel so blessed but still dare to confidently pray for a sighting of a kiwi……at the very latest on Stuart Island, I will make an effort to walk around in the hope of spotting one.


Yesterday, having finished my pasta dinner and writing that letter, a chap walked by who was camping further down,inviting me to come and join them by the fire they had made. What ensued was a wonderful evening with Idit and Joave (spelling?) from Israel and Yoshi from Japan. While feasting on Idit’s beautiful home -made pizzas cooked on an open fire, we chatted, and what an enriching experience it was. Yoshi lives in a beautiful part of Japan which gets cold in winter so he comes to New Zealand for fishing…..he catches the fish and then throws them back into the water. He showed us a photo of a giant 6 pound brown trout he had caught. He actually just stopped off and had tea with me before heading out on his fishing trip.


Joave is a graphic designer and Idit a primary school teacher. A couple, they have both taken  a year off work to travel New Zealand and Australia (where Idit’ s mum is originally from). They are both beautiful human beings and I hope our paths cross again on the West Coast as they are travelling in the same direction as me.


On that note, I my wrap up, finish my tea and see if they are up. After that I will have some brekkie and then hit the road…..I am behind schedule if ever there was one but taking the time to reflect and just “be” is more important than seeing everything there is to see. At least to me.


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