Feb 26, 2011


tree day

i wish i could accurately share what life is like here, but as with all totally epic experiences, it can't really be described...only felt.
it feels like coming home as shannon so perfectly put it. i feel like i am home here. and to be quite honest... i don't want to leave.
but don't worry dad, don't worry john, dev. i know i can't stay. i love you all too much.

everyday we have some new adventure. we catch most of the food we eat from the ocean. i have learned how to dive for abalone and then clean and cook them. i also know how to set lines and gut a shark.... and then prepare it for breakfast. i've learned all the best tidepools to get mussels out of. tonight we go pig hunting.... in other words i am becoming eli.

everyday there are new people flung from the world over into the holiday camp. so there is always a new language to learn. turns out the word for butterfly is universally beautiful.. although the consensus is that it's much prettier with a kiwi accent than an american accent. everyone is constantly mocking my accent. "ferrrrr." says willow and laughs.

everyday i work hard on some new camp-enhancing project. yesterday i spent almost all day in the woods, clearing and cleaning them out for the future coffee cart that will be put there. i would work until i couldn't move anymore, then climb a tree, rest, repeat. before this i was mostly planting flax. i have become proficient with a machete, a spade and i'm working on a chainsaw.
basically i'm always dirty and sweaty. it's awesome.

everyday i explore some new part of this place. there are beaches, islands, tidepools where you can swim with baby seals. there are cliff-top hikes and rolling green hills everywhere. there are forests of manuka and other native brush just stuffed with cicadas. there are eels and horses and peacocks and fish of all kinds and loons and hawks and bell birds by the dozen. but there are no sand flies! paradise!

no adventure is deemed too dangerous for a girl out here and as a result i am very slowly being molded into a wild pirate. i have never enjoyed anything so much in my life. i am constantly testing my skills, fitness, and bravery. i am passing each test. i am crackling with happiness. i have everything i could want or need....

except you. xo


seddon st. beach day



"shark for breakfast mates!"


fishing day

we found this on the beach. swear.


captain of wharariki

this is dion..... he's a perfectly splendid pirate.


my new kat

this is katleentje............ she is spectacular! we are always laughing!


pawa divin round two

Feb 19, 2011


pawa diving

"the legends of wharariki beach"


new home number 13

the eye of the kiwi

i met a couple at the top of mt. stokes - the only people i saw that whole day. they had started before me and i followed their tracks up all morning. when i reached the summit i sat and chatted with them, curled on rocks, overlooking all that lay below us, for about two hours. they were locals, regional tramping fanatics and like all kiwi's i've met they took extraordinary pride in their home and even their region. when i told them i was on the hunt for the best beaches the woman immediately said coyly,

"oh we know the best beach on the south island, but you'll never find it."
"which?" said her husband.
"wharariki," she said and he gave an, "ahhh," and affirmative nod.
"well here, write it down anyway," i said, "i might."

a month earlier a german in christchurch had urged me to go to the farewell spit.
"skip abel tasman," he said, "go to golden bay." so because of him and his emphatic, unsolicited, travel advice that had long been my planned route.

when i got close and studied the map i realized that the farewell spit and the mystery beach were the same destination. i had inadvertently and unkowningly been heading to wharariki the entire time. it found me so to speak..


sneaking to the cape day


farewell spit


the secret way


fell in love with a tree

"for all it's mass, a tree is a remarkably delicate thing. all of it's internal life exists within three paper-thin layers of tissue, the phloem, xylem, and cambium, just beneath the bark, which together form a moist sleeve around the dead heartwood. however tall it grows, a tree is just a few pounds of living cells thinly spread between roots and leaves. these three diligent layers of cells perform all the intricate science and engineering needed to keep a tree alive, and the efficiency with which they do it is one of the wonders of life. without noise or fuss, every tree in a forest lifts massive volumes of water - several hundred gallons in the case of a large tree on a hot day - from it's roots to it's leaves, where it is returned to the atmosphere. image the din and commotion, the clutter of machinery, that would be needed for a fire department to raise a similar volume of water to that of a single tree...." - bill bryson, a walk in the woods



this is richard..... he got my number right away.


wharariki time

so i found paradise and i'm parking here for a while.

Feb 11, 2011


new home number 12

gypsy caravan/freedom wagon

the best thing about new home number 12 is... it's on wheels. never in the same place twice, it has the double advantage of transporting me to new unexplored parts of the south island and also affording me my own private place to sleep - affordably. i'm getting remarkably good at transforming it from fuel efficient little toyota wagon to cozy little nest; complete with a bed, curtains and mosquito netting for the windows so i can sleep with them open. i sort of love it.
the kiwis have a name for what i'm doing, (what i'm doing being eschewing campgrounds and rest stops in favor of little nooks by beaches and rivers, off of country roads, under old one lane bridges, etc.) they call it freedom camping. i sort of love that name. freedom! camping! some of my favorite things. it's so inoffensive...

but really if it looks like a gypsy and acts like a gypsy and smells like a gypsy.....


mt. stokes

in my experience the best places are hard to get to..... this is literally and figuratively true, btw.

Feb 7, 2011




hanmer springs

so linda and mike sent me on my way today with a tuned up car, new tires, a cooler (which is called a "chilly bin" here) full of food, and a cellphone. i don't know how i get so lucky sometimes but i never ever take it for granted. being at the staging post was such an amazing and unique experience and i could have comfortably stayed there for much longer but i'm formulating this theory. my two week theory... the theory being basically that two weeks is about the perfect time to stay anywhere, and you can tolerate any kind of living for two weeks. it's just long enough for the bloom to wear off the rosiest of situations and plenty of time to learn something from the difficult ones.

so for the next two weeks i'll be living out of my car, wandering. i'm on the search for the perfect beach, the best view, the greatest adventure. things are getting epic... again.

Feb 6, 2011


                                    the ghost trees of hawkswood

Feb 4, 2011

Feb 3, 2011

Feb 1, 2011


pour maman

i will now say the thing that you are probably not supposed to say when your mom's house burns down. and i say it with utmost love and sympathy.*
"The phoenix (Ancient Greek: Φοῖνιξ, phoínix, Persian: ققنوس, Arabic: العنقاء)
A phoenix is a mythical bird that is a fire spirit with a colorful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet (or purple, blue, and green according to some legends). It has a 500 to 1000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again."
i guess i'm just sitting here thinking that... without the fire a pheonix would just be a big, pretty, bird instead of an archetype; a metaphor. because there is no opportunity for expansion like the one that comes after loss. it is powerful and unique in that power; that dark, charred, smokey black hole kind of power, out of which something new must spring because nothing old remains.
i envy that opportunity. i grab it whenever it comes my way. in fact this last year of my life has been a willful act of simulated loss. now when faced with real loss, real fire, on the surface i feel the cliched worry and regret for sentimental bits burned to nothing, but deep down, maybe i'm not supposed to say this, but deep down there is a wild-eyed creature thrilling at the devastation. deep down there is a hushed voice saying, "excellent." deep down i wish i had the guts to voluntarily attempt what an involuntary accident accomplished.
deep down i want to watch it all burn.
i'm not trying to be insensitive. but i am so very interested in freedom and there is no freedom i can think of that rivals the freedom of flight from the ashes.
i love you.
*this train of thought would have been completely different had anyone been hurt - and i thank god no one was.


kaikoura coast track - day 1 (& day 2)

i hiked 26 kilometers today! i'm writing this in kilometers because it looks more impressive!