Sunday, 3 August 2008

zen moment close to home

Sometimes I have occasion to wander into the wild. In 2007 an urge to see some more glaciers before the world turns into a giant sauna drew me to the West Coast of New Zealand. Here in a nutshell are a few places to look out for as well as a couple to avoid at all costs. None of this is in particular order…it appears as various memorable moments bubbled out of the stygian gloom presently enveloping the grey cells…travel in summer if you are sensitive to coal smoke!

Both the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers offer walks through beautiful rainforests, past and through streams and waterfalls, across spectacular moraine areas. The Franz Josef Country Retreat provides a cosy haven and a fabulous deep bath in which to contemplate all this extravagant geography. They also have a welcoming and hospitable cat and will let you play at barista with their gleaming coffee machine.

The Greymouth Working Men’s Club deserve sparkling gold stars for their warm and friendly welcome, offers of tea and invitations to play pool. I’ll be back.

Keep walking past the Frauenreisehaus in Christchurch if you are sensitive to battery operated stuffed sleeping puppies with simulated breathing. There is one in the office. It was probably a beloved pet before Mr.G.Reaper handed it untimely to the taxidermist. Avoid also the Admiral’s Court at Kaikoura. It is a depressing and dismal establishment which illustrates the sort of pit a person unfamiliar with the location (me) can fall into when booking on the internet.

Leap back on to the train (after you’ve seen the seals), travel north and stay at the Harbour View Motel in Picton instead. It’s comfortable, clean and decorated in refreshingly simple style and does indeed have a rather nice view of the harbour. That way you won’t be tempted to order chowder at the Aroma (or was that Amoré?…I forget) Café in Kaikoura and won’t get a nasty surprise when the glue-like substance that arrives in front of you is full of funny pink-dyed fish substitute masquerading as crab and bears as much resemblance to traditional chowder as coffee whitener (or its cousin gesso) does to cream.

In Wellington make a bee-line for the Wellington Trawling Sea Market on Cuba Street (just up from Roger’s Tattoo Art). The fish and chips are unrivalled for freshness and flavour. Still on Cuba take your coffee at Midnight Espresso. In fact, have breakfast there too. Whatever you do, don’t risk your teeth on the offerings at Dorothy’s Patisserie a few doors down. The croissants would have made handy paperweights, but proved disappointing when offered slightly nuked as an accompaniment to the lukewarm brown substance masquerading as coffee in that establishment.

Visit Moore Wilson across town to stock up on Whitestone Farmhouse cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables and other comestible delights. Wander up the hill to the Botanic Gardens (where the Magnolias are magnificent) and adjacent historic graveyard. Take your left-over bread for the denizens of the duck pond. Back on Cuba the Irish Bar is good for a game of pool (free for as long as you can stretch a drink!) and the house band is brilliant at churning out old favourites. 

Roll on Mustang Sally.


  1. I'm on my way! Well, in my dreams anyway.
    Lovely pictures and a fascinating blog. Thank you.

  2. Love your musings and i understand the feelings you generate..

    loved the guinea hens in the photos of the Seppelt dining spot and the stone structures.. totally what I love... architecture and the earth and beauty of the natural... hands on do it yourself.... and the food sounds excellent.. You always know when you have found it!!!

    Your work is in the same vein.. from the intuitive , instinctual gut!!! I hardly have words for how I feel about your work ... only that I wish I had done it.. I love textile design.. you are so inspiring!!! but I do believe ideas can translate into many mediums!!

    and I am so glad to see that you are doing what you are doing.. I remember when I used to have my Leicester and Angora goats... Boy, do I miss them... and my chickens but I digress... So, so, so glad I found your blog!!!

    oh, my first spinning wheel came from new Zealand from long lost relatives!!! See you again, Gwen in New Brunswick, Canada

    ps... I couldn't believe you have me added to your "grazing list"...I am totally honoured!!....
    You are on mine right now!!! cause I'll be back!!!

    Well I guess I wrote too much but pardon me... I was enthralled!!!

  3. do keep writing...comments like that one make me happily purr into my teacup!

  4. Danke für deinen Besuch. Aber Eukalypten sind doch sicher auch schön? Ich sehe hier so viele schöne Bilder, dass ich wiederkehren werde - wenn es nichts ausmacht, dass ich deutsch schreibe!

    Liebe Grüsse aus dem Salzkammergut

  5. freundliches kommentar immer wilkommen (ins besondere Liebe Grüsse aus dem Salzkammergut!) ...ob auf Englisch, Deutsch oder Französisch ists ziemlich egal.
    Danke Dir!