Central Plateau, North Island

Central Plateau, North Island
View from a friend's farm

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Craftsmanship from a true craftsman


Our friend  visited this afternoon, and showed us his superb handwork. Words are not enough to describe the fine, delicate detail in this  50 calibre muzzle loading rifle.

1.49 metres in length, weighty, with  detail in brass, and inlaid silver wire. The barrel and flint stock were imported from USA, maple wood  showing beautiful grain and finish. This has a 2 stage, hair trigger.

I decided I would need nothing less than the sturdiest tripod, if I could even manage to hold it steady against my shoulder.

Muzzle loading rifle

Rifle butt with brass patchbox


butt end with carved detail,brass and silver inlay

To finish off a perfect afternoon, the sky rose to  the occasion once again.

Night sky at our place

Quotation of the day , author unknown

‘ A craftsman creates a thing of beauty,

to be held, admired and treasured forever”

Greetings from Jean

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Rain Drops on Salvias

Flowers shining brightly

Last night there was a sound, I thought the fridge was packing up, for a few seconds, then realised it was raindrops on the roof. Yes, for maybe a minute, we had rain. The bright red Salvia plants enjoyed it so much, they are even brighter today.

At Piropiro, Hugh went out many times to explore new tracks. There are so many old trees there, lichen hanging off the trunks, fallen logs to crawl over.

Here are some of his photos, taken with  his  Canon G9.

Lichen on an old tree trunk

Lichen on the tree

The well used fireplace, providing wonderful heat on a frosty morning

Fireplace that has been  used well

A grassy part of the track In the foreground is the box on his quad, with tools, spare parts, and emergency equipment. The Gopro Video  camera has its own special place there too.But not this time.

Grassy track

Tangled branches and tree trunks everywhere.

Tangled branches Tree trunks

This is the pool at the bottom of the steps, water from a stream gushes out of a huge pipe that goes under the metal road, very cold and crystal clear, but hard to get a good photo as it is surrounded by ferns and grasses.Too dark, too light, too sunny, no matter what time I wandered down there, it didn’t seem to be any better.

piropiro water pool

Tonight the night sky was glorious, tempting me with those few minutes of beauty.Do you get tired of sky photos? I could look at them every day, and marvel at how the sky looks in other parts of the world.

Night sky within a frame

Quotation of the day from Gerald De Nerval,

“Each flower is a soul opening out to nature”

Greetings from Jean

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Moonshine and Morning Glow



Last night  there was a Full Moon, but by the time I  realised it was shining brightly, all I saw was one big bright orb in a dark sky. No trees for contrast. This morning ,there it was, but hiding behind the trees very fast, still quite dark outside.

framed, sky with the low moon

Japanese Anemone 

The Japanese Anemone plants were all pulled out, but somehow they still manage to survive, and shone so vividly in the early morning.They are so pretty, and wave gently in the wind.

The morning sky has been beautiful lately, and although I am not able to get a full view, this is from our back lawn. There is a fine vapour trail. running from top left to middle lower right, as I took lots of photos, it gradually dispersed. It is hard to distinguish from the paler clouds,as the once thinner line spread out wider, and turned to fluff.

More morning colours

This one apple tree at Piropiro must have been part of the orchard when families lived there, there  were houses, a school, and a sawmilling operation. An isolated area, and hard for any wife, cold, with snow in the winter, and very hot summer days. No modern convenience store, probably a copper and tubs to do the laundry with a hand wringer, an open fire, where the heat flew up the chimney, maybe a coal range for cooking. Last year there were so many apples, this year I saw maybe 4, all small, not ripened at all. Such is the season of drought.

More information about the area and cycle trail can be found at


One tree at Piropiro

Quotation of the day, author unknown

“ Night’s clouds cover the pink of dawn,

till the sunrise shows its full beauty”

Greetings from Jean

Monday, 25 March 2013

Long Bridges and Intrepid Cyclists


The Maramataha  Suspension bridge, recently opened, is the longest in the North Island. 141m in length and 60 metres above the ground. This is a great engineering feat, and enables the cyclists on the Timber Trail to go further, from Pureora, down the Angel’s Rest track, to Piropiro, and on to Ongarue. Photo courtesy of Hugh, he took some photos looking down, but with the slight breeze the bridge swayed a  little. I understand that when on your cycle, look straight ahead, keep pedalling, do not wobble, and reach the other side thankfully.Some prefer to walk across, with their bike at their side, others, like me, preferred to stay  home.!!!

Maramataha Bridge 141m long

The group of cyclists from Cambridge and other areas did a full day  trip, across the bridge, to Ongarue and return, a distance of some 90km. Travel weary, a quick dip in the freezing water down those steep steps was refreshing, next morning a hearty breakfast and off for another  shorter ride before returning home .

Cambridge and other cyclists collage

This little bird ventured out after the showers, and after some research, I am thinking it might be a “ Fern Bird”, it didn’t fly far, stayed in the same area for 3 days, very industrious  searching for insects on the now damp grassy stalks.If anyone can identify it correctly, I will be so pleased.

Small bird at  Piropiro 

Quotation of the day, from David Russell,

“ The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross

and which to burn”

Greetings from Jean

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Roads we travel on,Summer and Winter


Jim, you asked if we have a “rainy season” here in NZ. Winter is June,July and August, with colder days, and nights, more rain, and snow,mostly in the South Island, and the higher areas in the North Island. And yes, metal roads get slushy, muddy and slippery. In the busier areas, graders come to move the snow, or level the metal to make driving safer.photo courtesy on Internet.Models like this or similar, and many other brands and designs to suit all purposes.

volvo Grader 

Here is  a  road in Otago , in summer ,    the green grass looking good for the sheep.

metal road in Otago 

A little further up the road, in the  middle of winter, snowbound, even 4WD vehicles had problems, and tractor transport was safer.

road at the farm

Tractors of all brands and sizes, cabs with comfortable seats, necessary for the colder South Island winters. Photo courtesy of the Internet.

Case Tractor

Many roads that  go to the ski fields, or ones that have snow covering them in winter, have “chain bays”, where vehicles can pull over and fit chains on the wheels before carrying on. This is on a tar-sealed road from Arrowtown to Wanaka, South Island.

Snow chain bay on Crown Range road

Another part of the same road, December 2011.

All seal road to Wanaka


Quotation of the day, by Henry A. Kissinger

“ If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere”

Greetings from Jean

Little guys on their bikes, and Night Sky Beauty.


Many family groups stay at Piropiro  campground, wide grassy areas, metal roads, and an area of  pumice, called “ the sandpit” by little  guys. Jacob and Luke were on holiday with their Poppa, and enjoyed some fun on the small quad bike. It has a safety device, a cord with a loop going over the wrist, and if you fall off, this stops the motor.  Thanks Wayne,   and back at home,  Adam and Sophie, your turn next time maybe.

Jacob, having  a great time. He rode round,   until some  trees in the background looked better than dry grass. . Ta so much, Jacob, great photo.

Jacob,  at Piropiro 

Luke waited for his turn, and really looked the part on the quad.   Ta Luke,  great photo.

Luke at Piropiro


Dogs came and went, mostly in their crates on the back of a Ute, tied onto the deck, or better still, inside a 4WD, out  of the dust . Ella,a 6 year old German Shepherd, sat quietly, blending into the dry brown grass. Brown grass everywhere, even under the trees.



The birds stayed well hidden, families of quail scuttled across the grass to a shady spot down by the water pipe,too fast to get a photo.

Trees and shadows

When Debbie called with our Census Papers,  on 5th March, I was further down the camping area, these stunning colours there for such a short time. Nature in perfection.

Night sky colours March 5th

Quotation of the day, author unknown

“ Holidays are brightly coloured memories in the book of life”

Greetings from Jean

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Holiday photos, by day and by night.


I met so many lovely people while we were at Piropiro Campground, according to my tally over 300 passed through the area, stopped, camped, cycled on their way, or were walking, hunting, driving, or lost.

This number does not include the 100 plus who attended the 8th,9th and 10th March SAR training weekend.

Census day arrived, 5th March, our papers were not delivered at home before we  left,  I phoned the Government Department, and was assured they would be with us at Piropiro.This is a remote area, a  17km gravel road( more later for you Georgia), and sure enough, on 5th March, in almost dark,  Debbie Donaldson arrived, I think there were at least 12 or more camped, that night, we filled the details in by generator power lights.

Census papers by generator light

It was almost 8.30 p.m. and Debbie  was on her way, trusty driver waiting while she gave out the forms, and returned in 20 minutes  to collect them.

Census night, 8.22 p.m.

New Zealand has many metal or gravel roads, these have no  seal, can be smooth, if you are lucky, or rough and bumpy in many places.  In Pureora Forest Park the roads are all gravel, not nearly as wide as a normal road through a town or country area, barely a one-way in places, some smooth like my photo, others quite rough, with larger stones, and washout areas, navigating needs to be done carefully.

metal road in Pureora Forest Park

Showers fell on our last night, and the three young men from Germany  walked over to meet Hugh. Patrick, Max and Finn. All my good wishes for when you return to  Bad Salzuflen, a spa town in the  Lippe district of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

They waved goodbye to me as I followed Hugh on Tuesday morning, along, yes, the metal road.Thanks so much, that made  my day so much happier.

The photo below, “The Tall and the Short”!!! Finn told me he is 6’8'’ tall, or 2 metres. Little shorty me, at about 5’3’’ or 1.6 metres.and I was wearing tramping boots with thick soles!!!

Finn & Jean,Piropiro 2013 

Max,Finn and Patrick.

Max,Finn,Patrick .

Did I mention that we started with self inflating mattresses, one each, thought to be the best.After 10 days Hugh was disillusioned with their ability to provide any comfort to his bones at night.He was off to the nearest small town, TeKuiti, at least 71 km away,  for some supplies we needed, a Newspaper and magazines for me. But, not mentioned to me, was his hope to buy a better bed!!! After we unpacked the goodies, had lunch, he went back to the  station wagon, and brought out a box, with the magic words

“ Luxury Comfort for Older People

when Camping in the Outdoors”

Well, that is what I thought it might have said, and although the words are true, maybe only  in my imagination!!!  It  is a really good air bed, inflated with power, has a built in pump, velour top, and is  “Queen Size”. 80’’ long, 62’’ wide, 18.5’’ high!!! He wondered if I had seen him measuring out the area in the tent to see if he could buy one to fit. He did…there was room to walk along the side, but lengthways it filled that part of the tent  to the limit. Praises to  Intex for their design,

Inflatable air bed, Queen Size!!


Quotation of the day, from Johann  Wolfgang von Goethe,

“ He is the happiest ,be he king or peasant,

who finds peace in his home”

Greetings  from Jean

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Our Holiday


A few views from our holiday at Pureora Forest Park.

We had days of 32 Celsius, a few colder mornings with zero degrees, the last 2 days were with showers, and we met so many people from all  over the world. This photo was taken after  I walked along the metal road, looking at the fog and frost on the far hills. Just slightly above “zero” when I took this.

Cold Monday Morning

While we were there Search and Rescue had a 3 day  training exercise, with NZ Police, YSAR volunteers, many other SAR volunteers, from the Waitomo and Waikato regions. About 100 took part, more pics to follow.

NZ Air Force personnel were present, with an Iroquois Helicopter, with the crew taking part in winch training in  a clearing nor far from where our tent was.


NZ  Air Force Iroquois Helicopter

We saw some beautiful sunsets, one cold frosty morning and the birds hid in the trees during the very hot days. New Zealand is in drought conditions all over, and there was a total fire ban the last week we were there ,Grass crackled when you walked, no quiet trails for the hunters, deer and  pigs well hidden and far away.

 Morning viewFrost on the hills in the distance

Late afternoon sunshine on the hills to the East,  the bush shining to a golden shade


Late sunshine on the hills

A few hunters lost a dog or two, and Jock was missing for several days, He had tracked across several ranges, followed some tracks, or maybe the cyclists. His Dad was overjoyed to drive back and greet him. He was the most gentle Staffy-Kelpie cross, about 1 year old.  He sat quietly while I picked the hook grass from his coat, enjoyed the bucket of cold water, and a lie down while we talked .

Jock from Taumarunui

More photos and stories another day.

Quotation of the day from the local radio station there

“ Take pride in how far you have come,

and have faith in how far you can go”

Greetings from Jean