Search Chasing Jessie

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Long Beach... a long way from California!

April 19-26, 2010

After five great days of hiking, marvel, beauty, partying, and fun times in Queenstown, I should have known disappointment could only follow. There was some difficulty finding the next wwoofing host, and we quickly realized that many farms and homestays were leaning up their operations for the approaching winter months. Success prevailed though, and with bus ticket bought and luggage loaded, there was a quick email check before shooting off for Invercargill:  New Zealand’s southern most city. Bad news was revealed 3 minutes prior to leaving: our new hosts backed out.
The trip started off with a powder keg bang, and continued down a dreary path. All in all this city, one which I could do without visiting again, greeted us with 80 kph wind, gray skies, rain showers, and just overall depressed gloom. By making the best of the situation, we found a gardening-for-accommodation exchange at a hostel in an insalubrious neighborhood, which turned out to be much more rewarding that originally anticipated. Taming a neglected and wild garden into something respectable can be highly satisfying, so we gave it all we had for 2.5 days!

The highlights were slim in this city:
*“The World’s Fastest Indian” ‘car’, history and other paraphernalia, as Burt Munro was a native (yet I still have not seen the movie…d’oh!)
*Henry the Tuatara at the Southland Museum, who was a mean ol’ bastard for the first 110 years of his life, including biting off the tip of his future suitor’s tail, Mildred. After anal cancer was discovered on Henry, and the subsequent removal of a tumor, he turned over a new leaf and became docile and charming. At the ripe age of 111, Henry became a father, suiting up with Mildred (at 81 years old) to make lots of baby tuataras, 36 of which from two shaggings were on display! What a fairytale.

Thankfully after 2.5 days that was the end of Invercargill… about 2 days too many.

Dunedin & Long Beach
Yippee!! It took a while to find our next wwoofing host, but after 15 different calls, our host later told us he could sense some “desperation” in my voice. He said yes, and Aerin & I let out a little woot! woot! of excitement. Our hosts, The Pringle’s, did not hold a wwoofing hosts description that was exactly appealing initially… “reforestation and regeneration of native bush, and clearing invasive species” Hmpf. Being happy to have found a wwoofing host regardless, we patiently waited at the Dunedin Railway station for pick-up with big smiles and open minds. Little did I know that I was about to meet the most kind and generous Kiwis one could ask for, and that their planting work would be infectious and rewarding!

The Pringles voluntarily manage the Long Beach Conservation Reserve by replanting native trees (with grant money) and removing invasive species and weeds. This conservation area is located on a beach of the Southern Pacific Ocean, which was 3 minutes walk from the house. Yes! The first day’s work saw some beach and involved a lot of weed clipping, and a little bit of hole digging. The days that followed would continue similarly, but the weeds got bigger (needing a hacksaw!) and the holes got deeper, and the beach was peppered with long walks and bicycle rides. Together we planted over 100 native bushes, trees and shrubs, and cleared more invasive species than I could pile in the back of an F150!

The Pringles had 4 laying hens, and one of them, the ‘little gray one’ liked to be picked up! She would come stand near your feet and stretch out her wings a bit to advise of her desire for higher ground. I complied over and over, and occasionally when she didn’t ask. I was enamored. Two of the chickens were of one variety and laid brown eggs, while the other two were of a different variety and laid blue-green eggs. Awesome chickens and absolutely delicious eggs! (I now want to have chickens at home, fyi!)

The Pringles were my first real “live in” New Zealand family, and I enjoyed observing differences in culture. The husband, a retired high school math teacher, made fresh grainy bread almost daily, and the wife cultivated the most beautiful vegetable garden that supplied us with dinner every night. The compost bin was regularly filled in the kitchen, the house ran on a ‘tank water’ supply (rain water only), and we read and talked every night instead of watching television. Meal time was always fun (I love food, duh), and I tried to get in the kitchen to learn different recipes as often as possible.

All in all, 5 nights spent with simply wonderful, open-minded and bighearted Kiwis left me captivated with the entire wwoofing process. So much to learn, so much to experience, yet so little time!


No comments:

Post a Comment