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Written on: Wednesday March 21st, 2007

A journal entry from: The Winter of 2006/2007

Two weeks before we were due to leave New Zealand the weather changed somewhat.  It did get really cold and rained for a couple of days and when the clouds cleared from the mountains there was a lot of snow visible on the higher mountains.  The locals told us that this was the earliest they?d seen the snow on the mountains for a considerable number of years.   After a couple of days we were back in shorts and the snow had disappeared from the mountains but we seem to have lost the settled weather that we?d enjoyed for the past four weeks, some days being really windy.


When we had our rainy days we had to find something to do and Mike suggested we drive into Nelson and visit the World of Wearable Art (WOW).  Jean and Mike had been to WOW when in New Zealand two years ago so Jean read the paper and had a coffee in the adjoining café while Mike, Roger and I paid the fee to go inside.  We noticed there was a senior rate for over 60?s so made the most of that but it wasn?t until a few days later that I noticed the label they gave us to wear for our entrance had ?senior citizen? on it.  I would have paid full price if I?d been aware of that!!  Each year a competition is held for the most original clothing made from unusual objects and those receiving honours were on display and also being modelled on a TV screen was last year?s winner, a huge cloak which appeared to be made up of plastic flower circles.  What?s so impressive about that we thought, then we realised that the plastic flower circles were actually made from the plastic strips that are (or used to be) slotted into dress shirt collars to make them stiff.  Apparently 26,000 of them were used.   Other clothes were made from golf tees, ties, various parts of cars, paper mache, rubber gloves.  There were different categories for use of reflective materials, neon, a section for unusual bras, to name a few.  Mike said the display was totally different from the one he saw two years ago as most of the displays were of 2006 entries.


When the weather improved we decided we?d try to take in a walk in the Aniseed Valley which leads to Whispering Falls.  It was listed as a three hour return hike with a reasonable amount of fitness required, so we packed a lunch and drove the 45 minutes to the Aniseed Valley parking lot.   The path was wide and flat to start off, after about fifteen minutes we saw a couple of guys with four dogs coming towards us.  The dogs weren?t tethered which is always a bit worrying as you?re never quite sure just what they?ll do and as they got closer we saw that all of them had collars with an aerial sticking up.  We were so busy looking at the dogs it wasn?t until the guys were right next to us that we noticed that one of them had a huge dead black pig on his back.  Apparently most weekends the guys go into the mountains with the dogs who chase down pigs which the guys then shoot.  The pig he was carrying weighed about 120 lbs and he?d already carried it about 5 kms with another 1 km to go.  He was exhausted but his pal couldn?t help at all because he had a broken collar bone.  I guess chasing pigs around on a weekend keeps them off street corners.  The aerials on the dogs were used to track the dogs when they set them lose to find the pigs.  When we got back after our walk the guy who carried the pig was still there waiting for a ride, he?s put the pig in the creek to keep cool until his ride arrived.  He said that they take the pigs to a butcher to get them cut up and besides eating some themselves, give a lot to family and friends.  Apparently wild pigs are a bit of a problem in New Zealand, they destroy the natural vegetation and are not innate to New Zealand but were introduced by Captain Cook and his crew.   So after that encounter we carried on our walk which took us over a metal swing suspension bridge, very wobbly but quite fun.  The track became narrower as we progressed and then started to climb and at this point Mike decided to turn back as his leg was still giving him problems.  Jean, Roger and I carried on clambering up a hill to reach the waterfall and some limestone rocks, it was a good walk in some lovely scenery.


Mike and Jean had begun the routine of arranging a tee time each Sunday to play with the other people from Penticton who are staying in this area.  As Don and Linda are now back in Penticton and Aleda McCurry is injured this only leaves Dave which would have made us a fivesome so Dave invited one of his buddies, Graham, and we split into two threesomes and agreed that the two teams would play a stableford match.  This put Mike and Jean on a different team to us, the first time I haven?t played with Jean since we got to New Zealand and what do you know she got a hole in one on the 17th hole.  Sadly she?d had a really bad game up until that point so couldn?t get too excited, I think we were all more excited than she was.  Apparently it was a really good shot which tracked straight to the hole, this is Jean?s second hole in one while Mike and Roger who have been playing golf for 40+ years haven?t had one yet.


It?s been great golfing at Greenacres, it is a scenic, challenging course and we?ll all miss it when we leave.  In our last week they grounds crew deep tined the greens so they?ve been a bit of a mess, so much so that we played Motueka course one day, that?s a good course too though so it was no hardship.  We thought our sausage beach days were over when the weather turned but it did warm back up enough for us to have an hour on the beach on a couple of days.  Long shadows usually chase us off the beach by 5 pm though, or is it Roger?s inner clock telling him it?s beer time?

 To get to the beach we have to go through a campground and in the grounds is a cage with a cockatoo ? Joey.  I guess during the summer months he has plenty of attention but now the holiday makers have gone he?s getting lonely and a couple of days he?s shouted to ask us ?what you doing?.  When I went over to talk to him he put his head through the wire and invited me to stroke him, I was a bit wary at first as he has a huge beak but he was so busy enjoying having his neck scratched he didn?t try to bite.  Also in the campground is a popular restaurant overlooking the estuary and on our last weekend in Mapua a wedding was held there.  Some of the wedding party were staying in motorhomes in the campground and just before the wedding the bride?s father walked across the beach from his motorhome to the restaurant dressed only in a towel, cowboy hat carrying a whip and wearing a gun in a holster.  He told us that he was going to make sure that the groom?s intentions were good.  The bride arrived by boat while ?Love Boat? was played over the loudspeakers and then a helicopter flew overhead and scattered rose petals over the bride.  Good free entertainment.