08.10.2010 - 15.10.2010 17 °C
We are slowly grasping the wild concept of driving on the opposite side of roads now, after a few close calls and quick u-turns. I gave Julie a go at driving, lets just say we had some good laughs when every time she went to put her blinker on her windshield wipers came on. Just walking down the sidewalk and crossing the road is all ass backwards too. The traffic is coming from the right when you step off the curb, not the left like at home.
Anyways, we made it to Glen's bachelor pad in the hills near Little River to help him with tasks around his house, earning food and board in return. He is slowly working towards taking his property off the grid and becoming fully self-sustainable. With large veggie gardens and fruit trees, lots of available firewood, a fast stream and solar panels for hydro, becoming self-sustainable is within reach. He also plans to get chickens to provide him with eggs and will use their poops for fertilizing everything. He has an outdoor bath by the river, which is pretty cool, however being that the air temperature is only about 10-15 °C you tend to avoid showering until a hot sunny day appears. We spend our free time relaxing by the stream and exploring different bays and towns in the Banks Peninsula.
We take 2 days and head to Akaroa, a quaint town with deep French ties. It's a beautiful place to explore and sip coffee by the harbour. We complete a few hikes including the Beach Trail in the Hinewai Reserve; part of the Banks Peninsula Trek; the trail to Little Haylocks Bay in the Akaroa Head Reserve; a walk along the coast in the Pohutu Marine Reserve. We also did a coastal walk along Akaroa Harbour past the light house and up into the Anglican Cemetery which was devastated by the previous earthquake.
Back at Glen's he talks to us about his buddies, Marcus and Megan, who own Manaia Native Habitat. This is a property being converted into a wonderful property full of native flora and fauna offering hiking trails and camping. For a change of pace, Glen sends us over to the Habitat since they need help preparing for the season opening. We spend most of our time clearing overgrown trees, mostly the invasive elderberry trees, and doing general repairs. Marcus and Megan treat us to some amazing meals and really appreciate our help sprucing up the property. While at the Habitat we were shacked up in “Goldie's Cabin” (one of my middle names is Goldwin, after my Grandfather) which was great. A huge storm brought buckets of rain and left snow on the high peaks but despite this Megan and Marcus cooked and delivered dinner to our cabin. What an awesome stay.
The last few days we spend back at Glen's place building a stone wall and moving firewood from up on the slope down to the wood pile using the “Flying Fox”. His little piece of paradise will definitely give him plenty of joy as he and wwoofers work towards creating a self-sustaining property. His neighbour is a bit ahead of Glen in terms of sustainable power. She has a hydro-electric and solar setup to provide all of her power. She diverts water from a pool in a stream through a pvc pipe to a turbine that is 100 m downstream. Being that it is spring and the river flow is high, currently the hydro-electricity provides enough electricity for the house. However, she also added solar panels to keep the house's batteries fully charged at all times especially in times when the river has low flow and provides less power.
Our time spent on the Bank Penunsula has been very rewarding and enriching. We can't imagine what is to come, but if the rest of New Zealand is as beautiful as this, we are in for some mind blowing experiences.