Friday, November 29, 2013

Excitement at Te Arai

  The surf was gorgeous with a strong undertow, so I pretty much stayed clear the water, plus I already had a sunburn, but that didn't really stop me from re-applying more sunscreen and trolling the beach for sculpting treasures and ideas. It's amazing how all day long you think about the moment you get to stop walking and take the pack off, then once you get to your destination, you take the pack off but all you want to do is explore, so its off for more walking.
  Here's what I found and made, minus one project which is a film. Again, sorry, but for the films you are going to have to wait.

The first couple of penguins I see, and the poor things have perished.

This is part of the film

self portrait: blurred lines

drift would

Aside form the art several other things happened while at Te Arai. For example, since it was Friday all the young "rif raf" showed up to party for the weekend. There were two bon fire parties and I swear at one point I saw laser lights. Needless to say I wore my earplugs when I went to bed, which resulted in two things, sore ears in the morning but a relatively okay sort of rest, and 4 holes in my tent from the possum I didn't hear chewing through, because I had the earplugs in.  I am starting to really understand why we see possum traps all over the forests here. Little buggers!

Ngunguru to Waipu, Lang's Beach, and onto Te Arai

  I made it to Ngunguru (Nun -ga- roo) and met with the clan. But this is where Laura says "the band broke up."  Realizing we were all hiking at different paces with different intentions we came to the conclusion that we were not all going to be leaving together the following morning.  As the trek began I had every intention of walking the whole trail, every square inch of it, but as life has a tendency to want to be heard, she kindly reminded me one more time, that you only have control of so many things, and plan as you might, not everything will go as planned.  I have learned to give way to other things in store. Sorry if it's a disappointment to anyone who helped me get here, but the truth of the matter is, that this trail on its own is one hell of a challenge, throw the art project on top, which is one giant endeavor as well, and you have to learn to compromise. So here's what I decided, and please feel free to give me some input, as I know many of you helped me to get to this place.

  • injuries happen.  We don't plan for them, but in the end they always win. So, yes I hitched a bit due to injuries, there's not much to be compromised on here.
  • Road walking is a pretty big part of this trail and utter hell on the feet and extremely unsafe.  Bike lanes are a rarity in this country so its just car lane and ditch with nothing in between. Often while navigating through and around town your senses are heightened and you are more than fully aware of the proximity and speed with which cars are flying past you. Reiterated by the mini tornadoes of wind gust that blow you around after they have past at seemingly unthinkable rates.  It can take me one full 8 hour day of walking  to travel the same distance it would take a vehicle to drive 20 or 25 minutes, in case you need some perspective on my sudden fascination with car speeds. So, in the case that a section of the track is fully invested in road walking, there is a chance I might hitch through it. I traveled here for the tramping, not the near death roadside experiences, and to increase the number of blisters on my feet.  You may call it cheating...I call it smart.
  • If, while walking on a road section , you are approached by a car and offered a ride, having in no way solicited said ride from the driver in any way, taking a small jump through the road section is not considered cheating, but rather more of a case of "obliging the locals."
  So there you have it, I hope you aren't disappointed in my stand on the whole hitching thing, but as I said before compromises have to be made...on with the story!!
  That night I camped with Rita and Martin, a German couple who have been in New Zealand for 11 months, and are soon to continue their travels onto Vietnam, and Turkey before heading home in February.  It is all too common an occurrance that the track notes and the maps will indicate some sort of campsite at a location, when one does not in fact seem to exist in said location.  So, again you compromise.  It turns out there was no camp site in Ngunguru, but we had been told there was a man who lived at the top of a hill who was allowing people to camp in his lawn for $25/night...well, that is simply too rich for my blood.  It's also at the top of a hill.  So, we found a comfy cozy little section of grass, slightly removed from the main road, right behind the public library, and made it our home for the evening.  We also happened to be camped right near a small walking path and woke in the morning to the sounds of some judging, and some confused locals, but nothing ever came of it, and we were on our way.
  The three of us split up and hitched to Whangerai (Fon-ger-rye)where we had agreed to look for each other, with no real solidified plans of reconnecting, and just see what was happening.  Fate and travel magic has continued, ever since to land me at the feet of my new friends. We collided on the street in downtown Whangerai and after stocking up food, decided to head south and restart the trek.  I only had a series of days to hike with these guys before they left for Auckland and onto their next adventure, but I was very excited to be with them because it seems, from what I had seen with our little time together, that they hike much more according to my speed and leisure.
  While in Whangerei I stumbled upon a sculpture walk! What luck!!

  We decided to try our hand at hitching together as a group of three, which seemed at first impossible of not entirely improbable, but wonders never cease and apparently neither does the kindness of the Kiwi. Enter Bob Howard, who is actually from the States, but moved to NZ several years ago. On a side note, he has actually been to Idaho for some white water rafting. 

Bob dropped us off at an exit from South Highway 1 to Waipu to help get us back on track and trail.  The second we got out of the car the wind and rain began.  The forecast had said the next 4 days would be terrible, and was ultimately the result of why we didn't get to take the kayak tour from Ngunguru like we had planned.  Lady luck was shining on us again though, and in 15 minutes so was the sun.
  The thing I learned very quickly about hiking with martin and Rita, was that if you want to keep their spirits up and their motivation going, on the rare to never occasion that it dwindled slightly, you mention two things. For Martin you mention pie. New Zealand is known for its small hand held savory meat pies and I think Martin very quickly became a connoisseur.  I kept telling him he should have toured the country and written a book solely on their pies.  For Rita, it was the mention of a coffee.  So, once we made it to Waipu, having told them I had yet to have a pie, we very quickly rectified the situation, and now I know what all the fuss was about.  I will say, however, i don't think I will ever meet someone who loves the pies as much as Martin, but I do appreciate the introduction.
  Beyond Waipu toward Waipu Cove we found this gem of a cemetery, and I was pleased to find I was not alone in wanting to stop for a break. I was also not alone in the appreciation of cemeteries. Some find them sad and disturbing, I find them welcoming.

This tree was incredible

  The trail continued along a section of the coastline which had to be traversed at low tide.  there were several stream crossings along the beach which were difficult to judge the depth of. Picture the scene in The Never Ending Story where Atreyu gets stuck in the mud and loses his horse to sadness, that was me trying to cross parts of the streams. I quite seriously got stuck twice and had to have Martin pull me out of the mud.  I don't think it would have been as tricky as it was if it weren't for the heavy pack on my back throwing me off balance and making me sink further and further into the depths of the oceanic bogs (I might be slightly dramatic here).  Laughter all the while.
May I introduce Martin and a boat.

Barnacle Shoe
Once to Waipu Cove there were two options for sleep, both were campervan sites, where you can pay for a space to pitch a tent for the night, bathroom and a kitchen provided sometimes, but all for a cost. One was booked full and the other was $19 per person, just to pitch a tent, and none of us were willing to pay that, so we carried on to what we thought was the next town, up a very windy road. More dangerous NZ road walking.  Once over the hills to the town we found nowhere to camp and were quickly informed by a local upon asking about a place to stay that Lang's Beach is "Not a town. It's just a beach."  You could have fooled us, it was full of houses, and signs that said no overnight camping. What's a weary walker to do? Pitch a tent right next to a no camping sign right down on the beach, that's what! After all, if it's not a town, then there are no enforcers of rules :)
Lang's Beach

Up again and on the move toward Mangawhai Heads and Magawhai where we stopped for both a coffee and a pie and were greeted by the most lovely of locals who offered us rides, which we didn't take, and cheesy breadsticks, which we did take as well as some appreciated information on the whereabouts of nearby campsites which in fact existed in this world and not just the imagination of maps and track notes.  We walked onward and while doing so I explained how i believed today was Thanksgiving and took the time and liberty of explaining the holiday to the Germans as best I could. Tradition never seems so strange as when you are explaining it to someone outside the circle.  What perfect timing that while i was explaining it, several wild turkeys poked their heads up from the grass. I swear if I could have figured out how to fit one of them into my Jetboil, we would have had one for dinner.
Taunting deliciousness

After several more kilometers on the road along came Barry Atkins, another helpful beekeeper, to offer us a ride. He said he had seen us this morning in Lang's Head and could not believe we were still walking.  He dropped us at our destination a few kilometers away and gave us some medicinal manuka gel made by his bees.  I could seriously bee nerd out on you right now, but I will refrain.
Thanks Barry!

Time in Paihia

  Okay, so much has happened since last I was in range of a computer I think I will split this update up into several sections to keep it easier to follow and to keep you all interested without throwing too much at you all at one time.
  The last time I left off, we had hiked from the west to the east coast and ended our travels in Kerikeri, where I had my first sit-down meal and I bought new trail runners to get me through, until I could get to a town with a wider selection of shoes.  I spent one night in Kerikeri and hitch hiked to Paihia, where I have previously stayed while on my way to the northern most point where the trail actually begins. The family that gave me a ride was visiting with their young son, after having lived in NZ several years prior. They had amazing strories of the places they travelled and gave me much hope and insight on my trip. Thank you Heather, Scott, and baby Jack (whom I loved picking things up for when he made a game of dropping them).

 Paihia the Bay of Islands is a tourist paradise where you can sea kayak, swim with the dolphins, sign up for helicopter tours of the islands. etc. none of which I did.  I mostly sat in the hostel, mending the feet and trying to prep myself physically and mentally for the future task at hand, which, at the time was seeming less and less accomplishable.
  It seemed time was dragging on as I spent a couple days watching my friends move onto the next part of the trail without me, as I sat trying to figure out how people hold still. I attempted watching a couple movies, I tried reading a terrible book, but after 20 pages realized just how terrible it was. Holding still is just not in my nature, but I was trying.  In the meantime I woke early one morning to go down to the beach to make some art.  I wish I were capable of downloading the time lapse videos I created of this piece, but that is all going to have to wait until I get home in a few months.  For now, know that this sculpture, will eventually blow your mind!!!
  Made on the sandy beach and videoed as the tide came in and slowly swept it away.

  My last night in Paihia, I asked my new German friend Marcel if I could use him for a photo project, which seems to have turned into a series, and thankfully he obliged.
  Travelling always holds me fascinated at the difference in flora and fauna between geographic locations, as well as intrigued by the people you meet along the way, so I have combined the two into a series of portraits.



My time in Paihia was at an end.  Although not completely healed, but definitely feeling much better, it was time to move on, so I had arranged transportation to meet my friends in Ngunguru, where the following day, if weather permitted, we were to kayak further down the coast.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dorm roommate alienation. Let the awkwardness begin.

How to completely alienate yourself from fellow hostel dorm mates: Enter dorm room. Sit in bed adjacent to roommates and begin surgically removing toenails which have become detached from hiking in shoes that did not allow for the amount of foot swelling which happens in wet regions. Do so without saying a word of justification and let the elephant in the room grow to exponential size. Bandage feet. Keep detached nails for future artistic endeavors. Leave room...Hahaha! There is something great about being a creepy weirdo. Giving the tourists something to talk about 

     Enter photos that will leave you a changed person (in other words, do not scroll down if you are easily grossed out) Consider yourself warned.

Prior to removal

Believe it or not, they feel much better this way.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

West Coast to East Coast. In a way I have already traversed across the country

  I don't even know where to begin on this entry. It seems like everything is flying by and time has taken on a new amebic shape and no longer holds relevance.  All I know is the state of progress and I look ahead just a couple days at a time so as to avoid becoming overwhelmed with all I have left to travel through.
  This last week has been incredible tramping from the west coast at Ahipara, where the trail escapes the clutches of 90 Mile Beach and leads you on to a series of forests and mountain ranges the likes of which I have only seen in adventure cinema like Indian Jones films.  I have emerged from the forests and onto the east coast bewildered and proud of my own achievements and finding townships to be a thing to become accustomed to once again. Its a wonder how quickly we integrate into the familiarity of our surroundings.
The first sculpture... Integration (90 Mile Beach)

  Last week I hitch hiked off the beach after only completing 42 kilometers.  It was a disappointing start, but it seems this whole trip, and life in general is a series of life lessons reminding you to go with the flow and work with what you've got.  With all the electronic gear I had brought to help me document the trip my pack was weighing well over the max of what I should ever imagine to be able to carry. The second day, after hiking 29 kilometers, was resulting in pain, more so than the usual amount of productive pain.  So I hitched off the beach, stayed a few days in town, replaced some gear, with lighter options, and sent myself a care package which I picked up yesterday here, on the east coast in Paihia. This town is beginning to feel a bit like a home base to me after having spent a few days here before reaching cape Reinga and starting the trail.
  While staying in a hostel in Kaitaia I met two Australian women working on filming a documentary of the trail and have since been traveling with one of them, Laura. Belle had to reformulate plans after having a hip injury.
  Within the first 15 minutes on the trail out of town and into the Herekino Forest we ran into my other Australian travel partner Jason whom I hiked with down the portion of 90 Mile Beach, and the three of us have been trekking together ever since.  To be quite honest, they are much more experienced trekkers and are certainly much faster than I, so it's mostly been a game of catch up and stay up for me, but their patience has been astounding and I would say we travel very well together and their company is very welcomed, as well as the fact that they push me along, striving to be better and faster and certainly upping my cardio abilities.
  The first 6 kilometers were an easy walk along a country road and my lungs started to act up.  A few years ago I had a series of encounters with bronchitis and it has left my lungs wanting a bit more strength, so I was worried that after wheezing a bit just on the road if I was going to be okay doing this trip. It wasn't something I had anticipated dealing with, but over the next 2 days, all signs of issues seem to have taken a back seat to my ambitions. Way to buck up lungs!
  Side Note: "Buck Up!" is my mantra for the trip.  You will hear me remind myself to do so often. Generally, in my head, it is said through the voice of my mother :)
Pestion directs the way down a country road exiting Ahipara

  The trek into the forest felt like a steep introduction, but after the next series of days to come I would find it to be nothing of the sort. The following forests made the Herekino look like a foothill, and I am grateful for the easing into the situation.  We camped on the ridge of the mountain, very near the tallest peak of this range at 557meters, amid the call of foreign birds, which have become a beautiful alarm clock, and a comforting collection of now familiar songs. The wind blew hard through the trees but seemed to magically never touch the tents. Early to bed after a long day, and early to rise for an even harder push unfortunately leaves me less energy and time to create sculptures and works of art than I would like. I am still working out the kinks, but I think what will end up happening is that while taking break days in between sections I will play "catch-up" on days missed, or play "I can do better than that" and create separate works that offer more than what I had an opportunity for while on the trail.

The common watering hole

Following the Herekino Forest, we emerged onto an old forestry road which merged into a logging road. We were suppose to go around, but had been given false information that the logging was finished.  We passed safely through, and a special thanks to the logging truck drivers for slowing their pace a bit as they passed us, minimizing the flying dust and rocks. We lunched along the road next to the most beautiful abandoned building.  Why does abandonment and decay catch my eye so?

Onward and upward through the Raetea Forest, its highest peak at 744 meters. A steeper and muddier version of the forest preceding.  For a chance that day, I had the most amazing amount of energy and excitement, and took off like a shot and actually lead quite a bit on the trek.  It was a great moral boost to not be holding up the show for a change and I began to feel for the first time that this whole trip was actually happening. It set in, that I am overcoming the part of wanting to complete a task, a far out of reach dream, and that it will actually one day, be a series of stories I can tell.
  We trekked on and on for what felt like forever, at the thought that at the end of the day we were coming into the small town of Mangamuka, where there were promises of a pub, a cafe, and a dairy (here a dairy is a reference to a convenient store), where we could restock supplies, and for the first time on the trip have a hot meal served to us.
Through the forest and into the open!!!

  The pub was only said to be open until 8 and Jason, the fastest of the group, took off ahead to secure us at least the option of a take-away meal.  Laura was close behind, and as the pain of my feet could no longer be ignored I watched as they got smaller and smaller into the distance.  Since the second day on the beach I had been experiencing pain in my big toes. Although my boots fit perfectly in the dry desert regions of Idaho, the swelling of my feet in such a humid climate is quite substantial and was not bargained for. The slow result of which has been the loss of my big toenails.   I have been taking photos of the damage that has been done to my body on the trip. Swollen and cut into hips from the weight of the bag, bruises on my clavicles from the shoulder straps, rashes from the chaffing and sweat,   blisters on the feet, and the absolutely disgustingly slow progression of the separation of my nails.  Gross? You have no idea!! So I hobble on into Mangamuka, catching Laura as she stopped for a rest on the road.  As we approached town we were driven up to by a local woman who had bee sent on down the road by Jason to let us know the pub and dairy were closed.  We had pushed on so hard, to no avail.  However, it was not without its reward as we were offered a grassy pasture to sleep in for the night, with high hopes that perhaps when we woke in the morning the local cafe, our last chance at a resupply before hitting the east coast, would be open.

  Hopes quickly dashed. The cafe was also closed. So we sat at picnic tables out front the cafe, and ate breakfast and planned the rationing of meals for the next couple days. Shortly though our luck would change as a local man biking past saw us out front and told us he could let us into the dairy.  Thank you Brian!

  Through Mangamuka and onward to Omahuta Forest and a lovely campsite at a Kauri tree sanctuary. This is the first in a series of camping parties where we were joined by several people we had been bouncing off of along the trail since the beginning. 8 tents at camp that night.  We rose early for a very long day. 25km to the next camp site and 5 of them were wading in and out of the river bed.  Swimming pools in the shoes.
Only ankle deep at the beginning, but up to the thighs by the end

  After the stream section it was more steep terrain up and down the Puketi Forest track and the swimming pools in my shoes felt more like lead weights.  It was a slow climb, but we had a destination to reach. An actual campsite, with bathrooms and water sources. The things that can motivate you!  The sleep that night was amazing, and the driest in a while.
  The walk into Kerikeri, our east coast destination was mostly road, and flat.  Which was welcomed and grueling at the same time. Walking on pavement is a different creature than having some give in the earth beneath your feet.
Two Australians and a French guy are walking down a road...

Lounge boulder

  We finally made it to town. It only took us 4 days to trek 126km over 3 mountain ranges, through a that's impressive if I do say so myself.
  My pace has improved, my lungs strong, calves are slowly appearing on my legs which is something I have been wanting my whole life, and only at the cost of two toenails, some bruises, swelling, and rashes. And all absolutely worth it. 
  I spent one night in Kerikeri, was driven to an athletic store by the woman running the hostel, bought new shoes, hitched a ride to Pahia, shopped at the grocery and prepped food for the next bit, have eaten as many fruits and vegetables as my body can handle while they are available to me, and now all I have to do today is spend time on the beach, make some sculptures in the sand, maybe watch a movie and spend as little time on my feet as possible.  I will continue to asses the status of my feet and will make a decision by tonight whether it is a good idea for me to do the next stretch or if I am going to have to skip it and meet up with the gang further down the line. I very much don't want to miss any of the trail, but several more kilometers of the next section run through river again, and infections in my feet are not an option and would prove to be very detrimental to the rest of the trip.  So we will see what happens next.  Either way, the show and the art must go on. 
  Oh, one last photo...I saw this dead cat in a tree and couldn't resist the photo op... again, why is decay so beautiful?
  On that note, I'm outta here!!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

90 Mile Beach vs Saratops

  Where to even begin!!  There is so much to tell, bare with me and please read on, because the magical series of events that have recently occurred is astounding and I cannot explain the amount of love I have in my heart right now.
  First off, kiwis really are as giving and helpful as I have heard them to be.  It's like I have landed in the sense of community I always dreamt was possible, but had begun to lose faith in ever actually existing. If you ever lose faith in the kindness of strangers, hop a plane to the other side of the world.
  I took a bus to the west side of the Northland to Kaitaia, to begin the final trek to the northern most point at Cape Reinga.  This is where a few issues arise. The only way to get to the cape is to either take a tour bus, which puts you (very expensively), at the cape half way through the first day, and thus gives you less time to hike the days trek to the campsite, or there is the option of hitch hiking.  To a tiny American woman traveling alone the idea of hitch hiking is fairly intimidating, and in the States is just considered to be an utterly poor idea. So I had devised a plan. Anyone who picked me up would be photographed and their information gathered (i.e. email address). This serves to keep my parents informed of my last known whereabouts and who I was with, as well as providing one more aspect to the art project.  Collecting a catalogue of anyone who has helped me along the way, to whom I cannot give enough thanks.
  I walked a couple kilometers to the local grocery store, which sits at the base of the only highway to head up to the cape and stuck out my less than 5 minutes I was picked up by DJ who was on his way to spend time with visiting family before he heads back t his home base in Auckland, and who also has offered any assistance needed once I reach Auckland on the trek.  Thanks DJ! You got me a bit further on my journey.

  No sooner had I closed the door to his van, than the rain started pouring and the wind began to blow.  Behold my second bit of luck! She goes by the name of  Lorraine. She picked me up and said she could take me a bit further down the road after only maybe 5 cars drove by. She is a hospice nurse and as one might expect from a caretaker she was very concerned about my well being when she too had reached the limits of where she could take me. Thankfully my heart was full of hope, and New Zealand rain this far north, although hellishly persistent, is also not terribly cold.

  Enter bit of luck number three.  He goes by the name of Jonny. He actually turned his truck around on the freeway to give me a ride. Lo and behold, the man is a beekeeper!!! Are you kidding me!? We talked bees for quite a while, and he told me of how they hunt wild pig, peacock (you read that right), and turkeys. A wonderful conversationalist, and maybe living one version of my dream life. He also said if I happen through his town at any point and would like to work for a few days that he would give me room and board in exchange for help moving hives. I would love to have the ability to split my life in two sometimes.  Even though it was further out of his way Jonny gave me a ride the remainder of the distance to Cape Reinga, and he even gave me a history lesson of how Captain Hook named the surrounding islands when he first landed there.  Thanks Jonny!!!

Behold Cape Reinga and the beginning of the footwork:

My trek started at high tide and usually you cross rocks down on the beach, but those rocks happened to be under crashing waves a good portion of the time, so I had to trek through thick vegetation, I believe following a game trail, to get to the other side of a hill. It was then followed by several kilometers of beach, hills and sand dunes. The rains began again. It was at the point when I was almost blown over by a gust of wind that I determined my pack was going to be quite too much for me on this trek. I was carrying far too much weight, but how could I not? I have artwork to document and gear that I would like to have to do so.  Feeling as if someone should have been filming me, a nomadic ragdoll in the wind, I stopped long enough to put the raingear on both me and my bag.  After 13 kilometers of reminding myself that this is what I had been waiting for, and very much looking forward to setting up a dry tent and sleeping bag, I reached my days destination at Twilight Beach. I was shortly joined by 4 French trekkers, and one Australian trekker, and I was very glad to have the company.
  Campsite at Twilight Beach, literally equipped with rainbow!!!
  It also came equipped with a pestering possum, who thieved chocolate from one of the French women's tents, and kept her up all night, to where she went at it with a knife. Unfortunately the only damage she managed was to cut a hole in her tent. 
(The possum pictured is not the actual possum above mentioned)

 I woke early, ate food, and hit the trail solo. I knew with the weight of my pack that everything was going to take me longer. I also knew there were expected rain showers on the way.  It didn't take long for the Australian, Jason, to catch up to me, and thankfully keep me company for most of the 29km path down the beach we hiked that day. This beach

Which resulted in this face
(the, "Here we go!" face, commonly confused with a look of fear)

  In short, the trek was long, the feet wet, the company great, the bruises and swelling of the feet and hips increasing with every minute of the overweight pack, and the blisters forming, but spirits still high and hopeful.  We past a rental van stuck in the tide and judging by the look on the young men's faces as they were trying to get it towed out of the surf, their holiday was officially ruined. People drive on the beach here, if they know what they are doing. And if you rent a van, the insurance stops at the beach. I can only imagine the phone call between those boys and their parents later that night.
  Other random facts about this place before I forget... pitbulls and terriors seem to be the dogs of choice around here. So many pitbulls. Every afternoon there is an air raid siren test, no need to panic.
  Anyway, at the end of the day it was clear I was never going to make the rest of this journey carrying the weight on my back, an artistic martyr of sorts. So I asked Jason what he would think of me if I hitch hiked back to town with one of the cars on the beach. Thank god he said it was justified and that the weight could be detrimental to my health, but that I had been a trooper through it all (carrying almost half my body weight across a sandy beach for 2 days in the rain).  If he had said anything but that, the stubborn streak in me would have pushed me to the end of the beach, and who knows, maybe into a hospital.  I hitched a ride, returned to the Backpacker's Main Street Hostel in Kaitaia, and had the most appreciated hot shower of my adult life.
  I laid low yesterday and focused on the maps of the coming trek
  This morning, with maps and coffee in hand I met two women in the hostel who are also hiking the trail while filming a documentary called Soul Trekkers.  Unfortunately Belle was injured and Laura had planned to carry on. Now, at least for the next trek, I have a new partner to hike with, and I am grateful.
  And then...this is where you start wondering when I a going to be finished, soon I promise. While talking to Mike, the owner of the hostel where I am staying, I told him of my purpose on the trip and he said if I come back at 11:30 he would take me to a sculpture studio where a man makes cement works.  On the way we stopped at some friends of his pottery studio Fern Flat Pottery. Could it have been a more appropriate place to end? Nope! Their studio sits right next to their beautifully crafted home, which they built themselves, in picture perfect New Zealand country scenery. They are indeed living the dream!!!

Thanks Rod and Marguerite Davies for the tea and tour!
  Now just to get a photo of Mike to add to the collection of people who have helped me so far on this incredible journey.
  Enough for now, I must go eat, and prep a box to ship away from my body so that I may never have to carry the weight of its contents again for the rest of this trip :)  The best weight loss program ever!!