Photos of Summer

We have had a quiet summer, a stay at home holiday; partly because we went away to Queenstown and Wanaka back in July, partly because we were just so buy at the end of 2010 to get round to organising anything, and partly because Aonghas broke his toe on December 27th and we decided it woukd be no good going away camping, walking, being active when he couldn’t really do all that!  Anyway, having the chance to catch up on the garden, while away the days reading, pottering and generally relaxing was wonderful after the busy year I had had at school.  In fact it took me until after Christmas to catch up on sleep and feel anything like motivated to do anything at all!  It was a hot sultry summer, we didn’t go to the beach as often as we would have liked, but there is no shade at the beach, and boy, did we need shade!  Anyway here are a few snapshots of our summer.  Find more on Flickr.

Once Gus’ toe had healed a bit we headed over to a beautiful spot in the Limestone Downs called Waikeretu where there is a cave called Nikau cave.  We had planned to go there last summer but went north instead.  I had ended up going there with school on our Year 12 camp and was keen to geet back there with the family.  A sheep farmer who has lived all his life in the valley bought the land a few years ago, and having been caving in the cave when he was a boy saw the potential of opening it up for wild caving trips and maybe an opportunity to move into semi-retirement from the hard grind of sheep farming.  He and his wife have made a fabulous job of it – about 10 years on they have created a haven which sits in the natural beauty of the limestone valley.  A large, airy, high ceilinged room makes a beautiful place to eat, with a picture window that looks out on the scenery and plenty of outside areas to sit and contemplate the surroundings.  The food is mainly homegrown – they have a vegetable and herb garden a couple of hundred metres down the road, and all home cooked.  They have a refreshing micro brewery beer on tap and delicious home made lemonade just like my Mum used to make!  We stayed in their campsite – a small patch of mown grass in a meadow next to the organic veggie garden.  It boasted a long drop toilet (which actually wasn’t such a long drop!) and a stream with a swimming hole complete with resident eels and stepping stones which led to a beautiful bush walk.  It was pretty close to paradise!  The cave is stunning, and although generally we object to paying to go caving, we had to admit that this was worth the $90 it cost the four of us.  The formations literally drip from everywhere – white, pristine stals, curtains, long straws and even some gour pools.  We waded through the clear, cold water of the streamway along wide high passages and then stooped as the ceiling dropped before crawling on hands and knees through a small archway that led to a continuation of the stream passage, less decorated but still with avens that went way up high and then more stal.  We emerged to a Nikau strewn gulley much like the one that led into the cave and then climbed out and into the familiar limestone country that made me yearn for home – just for a moment!  It was definitely a place that resonated with us – maybe because of the familiarity of the landscape.  It was more European though, brighter, starker because of the clear blue skies and the bright sunshine that beat down unrelentingly, more like northern Spain or the plateaux of France.  Later on we went for a walk through the bush and found some “Maori Holes” so called because the maori used to keep food in them.  The stories suggest that the maori ground them out with long branches which is what cave them the tunnel like shape; in reality they are natural hollows in the rock, probably formed by water.  Anyhow they gave us a wee playground for a while as we crawled through them and out the other side.  We came across a promising looking entrance in a shakehole, a little loose underfoot, but a stream trickling into it and a hint of a draught ..tantalising!  Onwards we went until we reached our goal – a waterfall under which we stood and basked in the warm water as it pummelled our heads and shoulders.  Lachlan climbed round to the top of it and pushed more water over as Gus delighted in the waves.  It was a beautiful stream of water warmed by the summer sun and we sat neck deep in the natural bath that had been formed by thousands of years of nature’s elements.  From up there we could see an old farm building in a  meadow which led down to the stream, a small cliff that you could possibly put a couple of climbs up and a hill behind to climb up and sit atop to watch the sun go down.  We have found our perfect place.  Nigel and I imagined a while what we could do with it, how we could make it work, live away from the rat race, self-sufficient and maybe supplement our incomes with organic veg and a little cafe….. Dreams are wonderful things but maybe someday we can make it happen, just maybe…

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