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Showing posts from March, 2014

Dunedin: Days 16 & 17

I had an odd feeling when we left our lodgings in Naseby that I should be taking Te Harinui with us on the bikes. I talked it over with John and we agreed that the symbolic presence of the Gospel represented by this piece of wood was powerful and needed not to be consigned to the back of a van. But there was the danger of it getting stuck in a wheel, so we left it, clearly labeled, at Wedderburn  with the luggage. The weather was great for biking. It was slightly overcast but not cold as we climbed slowly out of the Maniototo and towards Hyde. There was a tunnel and a couple of semi adventurous bridges. There was the usual passing parade of jaw dropping scenery. We wheeled into Hyde around 1:15 pm, having covered about 50 km before lunch. This was a pretty impressive feat for two newcomers to the team, Amelia and Megan, who were fairly new to this sort of cycling. We had lunch at Hyde before being picked up by our hosts and taken to Tussock Lodge . We got to this very pleasant co

Naseby: Day 15

It was foggy when we set out from Ophir. We left Blacks and headed down the main street so that we could cross the historic suspension bridge over the Manuherikia. The bridge was damp and the wooden surface was slippery. There were ridges running the length of it and Dion's front wheel caught in them. He fell, and his ear was badly cut. It was obvious that stitches were required so Ross Falconer, at the drop of a hat, drove up from Alexandra to take Dion and his wife Tash back to town for medical attention. The rest of us rode on in the damp cool morning. The sun burned away the fog by about 10 and we rode on a slight incline through Lauder and after a very long straight stopped for lunch at the Hayes engineering works, whose various agricultural inventions include the fence strainer which has benefited generations of New Zealand farmers. Today the historic workshop is open to the public and a very good cafe operates out of a small pressed earth cottage nearby. It was a very g

Ophir: Day 14

The remnants of the past are all around us in Central Otago. The bare brown hills are, in places ravaged by the determination of the miners to find the mother-lode and get rich quick. The mutilation of the land is astonishing in one or two instances, but the ravaged landscape has its own beauty and grandeur, as in St. Bathans and Bannockburn. Some of the towns still contain the quaint Victorian buildings thrown up to service the miners' need for accommodation, food and liquid refreshment. And threading through it all is the bed of the long gone railway which used to haul people and freight between the widely spaced communities of this extraordinary place. The railway no longer holds tracks and sleepers but the earthworks on which the railway lay are now surfaced with a fine gravel and have become the Otago Central Rail Trail. Because the old steam locomotives weren't much good at climbing hills, the trail is flattish and even. It runs over viaducts and through tunnels inst

Cromwell and Clyde: Days 12 & 13

I have been using my phone to connect my laptop to the Internet. What with all the blogposts, and putting photos on Facebook and whatnot I used up my monthly data allocation and haven't been connected for a couple of days. Today Benjamin arrived in Clyde with a gadget which allows me, and 9 other people at the same time, apparently, to go online. So here I am again. After the lengthy trip to Smoothwater, the 17km stroll into Cromwell should have been a doddle, and so it would have been if we didn't strike the first foul weather of the Hikoi. We looked at Bonnie and Susie's orchards, olives, nut groves and garden, made our farewells and threw a left at the end of their road. Less than 1 km along SHW6 we met Grant Davis on his way to work at Red Tractor vineyard, which is owned by his son and which we just happened to be passing. He showed us the pinot noir grapes, let us taste a few and showed us how he checks them for ripeness. He gave us a bottle of the finished product

Smoothwater Haven: Day 11

Today was the longest journey so far. From St. Columba's Wanaka we walked 21km and biked 28km to this beautiful estate run as a B&B by Bonnie and Susie. As seems to be customary for this Hikoi, the forecast rain didn't materialise and instead we travelled under a warm, still, overcast sky. All the walking today was off-road but the ten of us who set out from Wanaka still wore the bright yellow vests. They have become a uniform of sorts. Donning one makes you look and feel like part of the team. We took the footpath past Mt. Iron to Wallacetown and then down to the Cardrona River. Following the banks for a short while through manuka and across  some small bluffs we came to the Clutha which we walked beside for the rest of the day. I have driven the route from Cromwell to Wanaka more times than I can count but the well prepared track covering about half the journey was completely new to me. The Clutha swirls and boils as it makes its way steadily towards the Clyde dam wh

Wanaka: Day 10

The regional event in Wanaka today was already planned before the Hikoi was announced. The local churches had long planned a thanksgiving service in the Rippon vineyard for this Sunday and were generous enough to incorporate us. It all worked perfectly. The weather was great: one of those hot, still, Central Otago days with the clear golden light and the dry air. The venue was a hillside with a view out to Ruby Island floating serenely in the blue lake with the lion coloured mountains beyond. At this time of the year the trees are just starting to turn colour, making them a vibrant light golden green. A couple of vintage Tiger Moth aircraft droned picturesquely overhead and the waterskiers on the lake were far enough away not to be heard. All the churches of Wanaka were present and a few other people beside. A very good band from the New Life Centre played a variety of modern worship songs, people read and prayed and spoke on cue and all of them had thought about their various tas

Wanaka: Day 9

Photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014 I stayed last night on a farm just out of Garston. I went out to breakfast at about 7:30 am and found the 9 year old twin boys in charge of things. They had scrambled a pan of eggs and made toast. Their 12 year old brother had cooked himself some porridge. They asked me if I wanted some tea and how did I take it? Then, as I ate my toast, conversed about their sports, their schools and their hopes for the future. One of them told me how much he had enjoyed hearing me speak about the Camino Santiago when I came to the parish in April last year. The 12 year old told me about his possum trapping endeavours, including the type of traps he uses and where and how are the best places/times to deploy them. I was intrigued at the sheer down to earth practicality of these kids; by their ability to relate easily to an adult; by their groundedness. They impressed me. In the middle of the conversation Wynston came in from taking the photograph above, and their fath

Kingston: Day 8

Photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014 Today's schedule required us to travel almost 40km so it was decided to bike it rather than walk. Riding at a leisurely pace and stopping somewhere for lunch should see us there by 2.00, at least that was the theory. At Fairlight Phil's pedal fell off. So, rather than have him finish the day as a passenger in the support vehicle we decided to walk the last 12 km. Much of the riding section of the day was spent on the cycleway, which is not entirely finished but with one or two diversions because of non existent bridges - and for one small piece, non existent cycleway - it was perfectly manageable. At Athol we stopped to visit St. Bartholomew's church. This pretty little building looks and feels loved. It is clean and uncluttered and is one of the few churches around which is permanently open and yet remains unmolested by vandals or thieves. It is a holy and whole place. Sadly, it is one of our places of worship whose future is doubtful

Nokomai: Day 7

photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014 Leaving town in company with a small group of Waimea Plains parishioners, we walked past Ted and Shirley’s place, where had stayed the night before, and on to the newly formed Round the Mountain cycleway. The path sits on top of the stopbank of the Oreti River for a few km. It is broad and flat and has a pleasingly firm surface so walking was easy. About 3 or 4 km out of town a few people from Te Anau joined us, and a little further on, so did Dot Muir and one or two others from Invercargill. Dot had brought Ezra, a 19 year old donkey and his paddock mate Rocky who is a small pony. Ezra has had a hard life, or at least he did until he was fortunate enough to be rescued by Dot a couple of years back. He was pretty anxious about Te Harinui, having some unpleasant memories involving people with sticks. Knowing that he also was a bit nervous about men generally, I bribed him by feeding him a couple of handfuls of scroggin before clambering clumsi

Lumsden: Day 6

Photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014 We woke to a lovely day in a beautiful place and with a buoyant sort of attitude to the day - funny blighter, Johnny Psychology. We knew we were walking a "mere" 21 km, so it seemed like a bit of a rest day. Again, the forecast rain didn't materialise, and again we walked in soft autumnal sunlight in cool, clear air. Benjamin joined us for a few km and we stopped on the top of the Josephville hill for lunch. We kept a steady pace past the paddocks and trees, watching the mountains draw nearer until just after 2, or about 5 hours after starting, we strolled into Lumsden.Or to be more accurate, plodded in with probably the same amount of tiredness as on the previous couple of days. We found a cafe and sat still for a while before contacting Gillian Swift and entering the programme prepared for us for the later part of the day. I find the time spent walking passes pleasantly and despite the many long straights and the sameness of much of

Dipton: Day 5

Photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014 The forecast rain didn't appear and instead we had a cloudless sky all morning and some wispy cirrus late in the day. We left Winton just after 9.00 with a small group of locals who accompanied us to the edge of town and then  we walked on through the crisp autumnal sunshine Northwards across Southland. For the first couple of hours there were some refreshing bends in the road and three hours into the day's walk the first hill of the Hikoi. We stopped for lunch at 1.00 pm and then there was a series of relentlessly long straights before we completed the 30 km to Dipton a little after 3.00 pm. The little grocery shop in Dipton serves the largest and best icecreams in New Zealand. We struggled through their "single" scoop cone and contemplated buying a treble scoop one not so much to eat it as just to see what it looked like. We were picked up, just as we were finishing, by Sarah Stewart, our host and taken to the farm she runs with

Winton: Day 4

Photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014 The road North from Invercargill to Winton is wide, clear and well maintained. Large trucks burble past with their accompanying gust of cool, diesel tinged air every few minutes but the shoulders of the road are wide and it never feels dangerous. There are no towns or settlements in the 28 km between Invercargill and Winton, so there's no reason to break the journey. Starting at 8:00 am we walked steadily but not briskly, stopped by the roadside to make sandwiches, put our rain gear on briefly and took it off again, and we were in Winton by 2:00 pm. This is prosperous country. The fences are straight and the pasture is lush, green and free of weeds. With the wide roads and the flat paddocks stretching off in every direction and the great empty sky it feels spacious. I quickly get into my own rhythms on a day like this. The road stretches straight so far ahead I can't see the next corner; there are very few rises or falls and when they come

Invercargill: Day 3

photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014 Today was almost a rest day. We had a leisurely breakfast with our hosts, Liz and Evan Cheyne before making our way to St. John's for the 10 am service where I was preaching. After the service we held the first of our regional events outside under the trees. As the rain was threatening we kept it brief. I acted as MC, Phil Clark spoke with his usual witty eloquence and John Franklin prayed a blessing on the city. We had a pretty good turnout, most of whom stayed for lunch afterwards and a few of whom walked with us in the blustery wind and light rain across the city to Gladstone. It was a day for talking, making links between Christian communities of our own and others' denominations, and listening to what is going on this energetic little city Invercargill is a beautiful town, which I knew already but knew even more so when I had walked through Queen's Park and down a couple of leafy little walkways known to the locals. I stopped to hav

Invercargill: Day 2

photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014 Today was our first real day of walking. We were at Stirling Point, the place with the signpost that everyone likes to take a picture of,  at about 9:00. As the list of people who like to take pictures of the signpost includes us, we started walking about 9:20 and arrived outside St. Johns about 7 hours later. I was happy with this time for the 30 km distance considering the fact that we had a number of people walking parts of the road with us who were well beyond their normal limits of exercise.  The part of State Highway 1 which runs from Bluff to Invercargill doesn't appear on many of those New Zealand: A Scenic Wonderland type calendars. It is flat and straightish and runs through peatland that is given over to sheep and deer farms and to stands of battered looking macrocarpa. There is a fertiliser factory and a few small settlements but no towns. The road is not busy but very large trucks rumble by at regular intervals going to or from Bl

Bluff: Day 1

Photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014 I woke early and ate a breakfast of homemade bread and hot cereal. The evening before, the conversation at St. Andrews Anglican Church had spilled over into a time of quite deep sharing with Bubba, Jo and Andy and the rapport built continued into the new day as we sat around the breakfast table. Conversation was interrupted by radio interviews, conducted by telephone as we ate, with Radio Live in Auckland and with a Maori station from Northland. Then we were driven to Wohler's Cross and the Hikoi began. Stewart Island is a beautiful place and one of the most beautiful parts of it is the small hill above Half Moon Bay where descendants of the Rev'd Wohlers have built a memorial to this pioneering missionary. Below the bush clad hillside are several golden sand beaches with small rocky headlands and the sea is dotted with islands large and small. The memorial is a stone cross set in a small dell on the hilltop, with a view out to Ruapuke wher

Stewart Island Day -1

I met with Phil and John for prayer this morning before we joined Richard Johnson and local Kaumatua Bubba Thompson for the flight to Stewart Island. The trip across Foveaux Strait is made by either a swift catamaran ferry service or by Britten Norman Islander aircraft. Both cost about the same and both are at times equally adventurous. We are hedging our bets, flying to and boating from the Island. This morning was still and calm and I had the favoured seat, the one next to the pilot with all the knobs and dials and so forth spread out in front of me and the startling scenery passing a thousand feet below and visible on three sides. We were met by old friends, Peter and Iris Tait, and taken to the Tait's place for coffee. Peter and Iris run an exquisitely laid out B&B operation as well as a charter boat service. Both are a fund of information about Stewart Island and a hour or so slipped happily by as they caught us up with what had been happening since I was last here.

Invercargill: Day -2

Four of us drove South at mid-day today: Benjamin Brock Smith, John Franklin, Phil Clark of the Church Army and myself. We had our gear for a month loaded into my not large car and a whole lot of stuff besides: magnetic signs for the side of the support van and a flashing light for its roof; a first aid kit and 2 way radios and various cameras; booklets and maps; a timetable. I had talked with Clemency and Debbie about the best ways to connect with me. I had procured an exceptionally cheap bike and prepared it for Phil to ride. All was ready, after this long time of thinking and preparation and we were finally on our way. We had a quick lunch at Waihola and I tried hard, honestly I did, not to covet the Ducati Multistrada parked outside the restaurant window. We stopped in Balclutha on a baking hot afternoon and met the people from Anglican Family Care. AFC has a small office in Balclutha which accomplishes an astonishing amount of good. Like it's parent office in Dunedin it p

Te Harinui: Dunedin

Lent has arrived. This week has arrived. Te Harinui, my pilgrimage from one end of the diocese to the other has almost arrived. When I first thought of doing this I imagined going to Bluff with a little pack and walking Northward, no great drama, not a lot in the way of preparation required. I hadn't factored in how much the walk would grab people's imaginations, and, with many wishing to participate, how much organisation would be involved. Benjamin Brock Smith has been working pretty much full time on the Hikoi since the end of last year. He and I have driven the route, sorted it into do-able stages , made notes on all of them and publicised it to the diocese. We have invited invitations of interest and/or registration for differing parts of it. The original walk has developed to include sections by bicycle, train, aeroplane and boat. When I was in Wanaka recently a helicopter pilot generously offered to take me from Queenstown, over the Crown Range to Wanaka, a step that

Te Anau

I had no scheduled services this Sunday, so when an emergency produced a hole in Te Anau's service schedule I was able to nip down and fill it. It was a lovely evening. I brought my camera. So, despite the world having no particular need of yet another photo of a sunset , I took a few snaps, some of which I was pleased with.