...so many weeds
26.11.2010 - 30.11.2010 26 °C
Today is our first day back wwoofing after a week of holidays exploring the robust west coast and the area along the Haast Pass. Ruth explains how this area, Wanaka, is in a rain shadow and the normal climate is hot, dry and windy. And this is exactly the type of weather we receive for the week. She starts us out with removing invasive South African grasses from around the native plants in her gardens, she calls it “releasing the plants”. She has just come back from a 3 month holiday and the native plants are being choked out by the invasives. To top it off, she can't weed because she broke her back during a slight tumble off a mountain. The size of weeds we a pulling out are around waist height and the native plants are hiding somewhere in the undergrowth. After the first day, Julie notices some allergic reaction on her arms and legs from the grasses, so she gets assigned a new job constructing cages to protect rows of veggies from the rabbits. After a few days hard work releasing the natives from their captors the gardens look amazing. We also help Ruth make Gooseberry Jam using the oven sterilization process rather than the water bath. This seems so much easier and we are sure to try it when we return home.
One lazy hot Saturday afternoon Wanaka Waste Busters held their 10 year anniversary party. Waste Busters is a mix between Value Village and The Re-Store. Their goal is not to make money but to divert as much unwanted stuff from the landfill as possible, and encourage RE-USE. They seem to be thriving and leading the way in NZ with their “reduce reuse recycle” innovations. It seems that the entire community is at the event and we enjoy the entertainment, including listening to Minister of Environment, Nick Smith's opening speech. But mostly, I dig the whitebait fritters.
Whitebait season just finished here but is still a main draw at many restaurants and markets. Whitebait are little fish of a variety of species and are caught with nets as they make their way in droves to the ocean from their breeding waters inland. They are a high demand and selling your catch can fetch you anywhere from NZ$30 to NZ$100 per pound depending on where you are selling. So I pay 10 bucks for a whitebait fritter, which is pretty much a fish omelet on bread. I will say it was worth trying, the tiny fish just melt in your mouth.
Wanaka is home to Paradiso Theatre, an independent cinema with some very unique ideas. We read the reviews of a movie called “Skin”, looks interesting, so we set up a date night to the movies. One of the main actors, Sam Neil, lives in the area. The theatre is small and filled with couches, lazy-boys, and even an old Beetle with the top chopped off. Each couch and armchair has extra pillows for added comfort. The theatre is really hip and extraordinary, filming their own low-budget comical previews, and showing some advertisements for local businesses only. While buying the tickets you have the option to order dinner which is prepared for intermission. So being a good sport I order a personal pizza. We curl up on a couch and enjoy the show, eating my mouth-watering pizza during the second half of the picture. A theatre like this would totally fly in Guelph!
While staying with Ruth we learn that she is an avid tramper and we use her vast knowledge to tell us about hidden gems to explore. She suggests a day hike to Rob Roy Glacier in the Mount Aspiring National Park which sounds intriguing and off we go. After an insanely rough gravel road we reach the trail head. The 3 hour hike to the glacier passes boulder-strewn Matukituki River and climbs through native bush towards the tree-line. As we enter the alpine area our eyes feast on the Rob Roy glacier sitting atop a gigantic wall of rock and numerous waterfalls funnelling towards the valley's base. We embrace the magnificent splendour before us while eating lunch and shooing away keas that want to nibble our gear and food. After roaming about the alpine vegetation, we casually descend to the parking lot.
After staying with Ruth for 5 days, she is sad to see us move on to the next wwoofing hosts who are located only 20 minutes away. She thanks us for all the help, and we load up and hit the dusty trail.