After my time in Palmerston North I collected myself and headed for my first adventure off trail since my realizations of having to alter the plan. I bussed to Carterton with plans to see the Stonehenge Aotearoa.
Stonehenge Aotearoa is a modern, and fully functioning solar circle. It is not a replica of the Stonehenge ruins of the Salisbury Plain of England, but rather a modern adaptation designed to demonstrate how the ancient people of the world, (because solar circles are in fact found world wide), understood astronomy by the movement and seasons of the sun.
I asked a woman after getting off the bus if she could point me in the direction of cheap lodging, because even though there was a holiday park in town, they charged more to pitch my tent on a piece of grass, than most hostels do, so I was trying to optimize my options. She suggested we pop into the local pub, which is where she was heading anyway to ask the bartender, and the next thing I know, after going over all the options, she offered for me to stay in the spare room at her house. She made sure to ask me first if I was an axe murderer. I said no, and asked her the same. She also said no. Yay! We were off to a great start!
She introduced me to the locals at the bar, a scene reminiscent of the opening scene in Cheers, but this town is so small everyone knows everyone's name. I answered a lot of questions of my travels, intentions, and Idaho. Shockingly many of them already knew Idaho was famous for potatoes and the Rockies. Nothing will make you want to bone up on your geography like traveling. Or increase the desire to learn more languages for that matter. I have a lot of homework when I get home!
I spent the evening in wonderful company. Michelle and her partner Jamie were fantastic hosts and I have been instructed to inform you all that the best of Kiwi hospitality is found in Carterton, and I must say after the next 24 hours, it's hard to argue. The house sat amidst well loved and tended flower, herb, and food gardens. I had a tour of the town, and they cooked an amazingly beautiful seafood dinner for me. They were ever so gracious in unecessarily tending to my diet. They gave me a beer!!! And over dinner, while they entertained guests who had also come to their home from the pub, they all took part in explaining to me the game of cricket, which I now can safely say I have a vague understanding for.
The following morning the spoiling continued as Jamie took a break from work to give me a ride out to the Stonehenge. It was far out in the middle of typical New Zealand rolling hillsides, and would for sure have taken me a majority of the day to get to by foot. I waited around for about 15 minutes for a tour to start. It was by far the best tour I have had in years! Worth every penny! So if you find yourself out Carterton way, take the 90 minutes to be inundated and amazed by science, Greek, Roman, and Maori legends as only the stars can tell them.
The henge contains 24 pillars capped with lintels making the structure 4 meters high. It is 30 meters in diameter and has a 5 meter tall obelisk marking the center and also turning the henge into a Polynesian star compass.
Maori legends tells a story with the two pillars in the forefront, representing the two wives of the god in the sky. He is the sun and moves from one to the next as the seasons change.
|At high noon, the tip of the obelisk's shadow falls on the tiled platform, marking by its position on the figure 8, the date and zodiac sign in power.|
|When standing on this center marking, the acoustics are unbelievable. Sounds from everywhere within the circle resonate in your ear as if they are all up close. So mind the gossip!|
|The angle of the hole in this obelisk points toward the south celestial pole when lined up to reveal a full circle.|
|The seven sisters|
Now to top the wonderful day off, I saw a ghost house atop the adjacent hill!
Then I was given a ride back to town by the published astronomer himself, who had given such a wonderful tour. I sat, ate lunch, walked tot he train station, took a small nap under a few trees at the station, and boarded a train to Wellington.