...in hot and sticky weather.
01.12.2010 - 05.12.2010 26 °C
We arrive to Frankie and Dom's beautiful property just minutes away from Wanaka. After a lovely risotto dinner with freshly picked broad beans, we take the grand tour of the property. They have put forth a lot of effort over the years to build their home, and set up goat and cow paddocks, a predator proof chicken coop, and easily accessible veggie gardens. They practice bio-dynamic and permaculture techniques on their property. Bio-dynamic techniques involve gardening on the lunar cycle, and permaculture techniques minimize the work load and maximize the yield. Everything on their property is situated in the most convenient location. For example, the gardens are right next to the house, so they are always walking through them and can pay more attention to them.
Frankie and Dom designed their house and helped the building process in anyway they could to cut down on costs. They are very innovative and imaginative people when it comes to reusing and making waste a function item in their home. Using plastic disposable cutting boards and baking paper they created the most desirable wall sconces we have ever seen. Dom also made all the door handles out of leftover copper pipe by bending them and pounding the ends flat to fasten to the door. Another fabulous part of their home is the kitchen and its concrete countertops. But our favorite part is their outdoor shower, which seems a little exposed to surroundings, but we have no problem scrubbing after each days' garden duties.
The work here was laborious including working up soil, turning compost, transplanting seedlings, weeding overgrown gardens, releasing native plants, and mulching newly planted sections of garden. Frankie is very particular in every job we take on, but quickly realizes our vast knowledge base. The evening chores are Julie's favourite part of wwoofing here. Part of this includes bottle feeding “baby girl” one of the 3 baby goats, which was orphaned at birth. As we enter the paddock the cute little goats come running toward us and start to nibble on our shoes and clothing. We separate the babies from the 2 older goats for feeding and leave them separated over night. This is to allow Frankie and Dom to milk the goats in the morning taking the amount they need. The babies are then put back with their mothers during the day to feed. After playing with the baby goats for a while we then enclose the chickens in their predator proof pen, gather up the freshly laid eggs, and check on the new born baby chicks. Mommy hen is very protective always tucking them safely under her.
While staying at Dom and Frankie's we met another wooffer, Matilda. She is a German woman in her 60's, living in the moment. She just completed skydiving and loved it. She has travelled the world and is currently living in Australia. She tells us all kinds of inspiring stories, including becoming pregnant during 2 years of travel with her husband at the time and having the baby in Sri Lanka and then continuing to travel for 10 more months! It is fun working with her and listening to her stories.
One of the highlights of our stay with Frankie and Dom is hosting a dinner party for the Green Party at their house as they double booked the evening and weren't going to be around until 10 pm! Around 20 Green Party members arrive, some running for Members of Parliament for their district, including Sue, one of the owners of Wanaka Waste Busters. Sue is super friendly and really easy to chat with. Julie has a great time mingling and learning about New Zealand's current environmental issues and the Green Party's course of action. After a huge meal and more chatter the group disperses. It was a great time hearing about their politically strategies and opinions on various issues.
During our time at Frankie and Dom's we keep a low profile, having lots of afternoon naps and watching gorgeous sunsets. Julie enjoys getting her fill of goat dairy products, as Dom makes a variety of amazing cheese including goat feta, and soft cheeses. The food here was fabulous and most of it came fresh out of their gardens. This will be truly missed but it is time we pack up and move onward. Frankie is feeling under the weather but Dom thanks us for looking after the place while they had the busiest week of their lives. As a thank you, he allows us to take a bottle of goats milk and a container of his homemade goat chevre.
Leaving Wanaka we head onto Crown Range Road climbing up through a mountain pass, labelled as the highest elevation for a sealed (paved) road in New Zealand. The road drops in elevation quickly beyond the pass and we head through the beautiful (but touristy) Arrowtown. It is a historic town with a cobblestone main street, lined with many shops, cafes, courtyards, all of which look historic. We take a walk through the historic Chinese settlement in Arrowtown which was the result of the mid-1800's gold rush times. Many Chinese came to escape the poverty in South China with hopes of striking it rich. But life here was tough with the local hostility towards them and the harsh climate which claimed the lives of 1 in 7 Chinese men.
While in Arrowtown we also stop in at a few galleries, where Julie finds a favourite quote of hers, “Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.” New Zealand is a country full of beauty but it has its problems too, just like the rest of the world....money.
For a scenic afternoon drive we take the daring road into Skippers Canyon through daunting country. The narrow canyon road was sculpted along the side of the mountain and through rocky outcrops by hundreds of Chinese workers. During the drive there are times we have to reverse to a wider place in the road, so that the oncoming car can get by. We pass by only 3 homes in the canyon and it is hard to imagine this was once the location of four main hotels and many Sly Grogs (tent pubs) back when this area was booming during the gold rush. The car clings to shingle road winding around the steep rocky walls of the canyon until we find a safe turn around point. On the return trip we pass over gorges full of rushing water on rickety wooden bridges where bungy jumpers get their kicks.
We drive through Queenstown we realize that it is the Whistler of New Zealand, being filled with young 20 year olds and thrill seekers. The next wwoofing host lives in Bob's Cove, just pass Queenstown, the bustling tourist mecca which we try to avoid for now.