Sunday, June 15, 2014

South Island Working Holiday

   I'm home again from my working holiday in the South Island. I got home almost two weeks ago and it feels like I never went away. In some ways, in others I'm changed, even a little bit of travel dose that to one. I'm going to remember some of my trip for you now.

   I flew down to Christchurch at the end of March my two friends picked me up in the blue Ford Falcon '69 and off we sped up to Nelson area. There we spent five weeks picking apples in the sunshine, well mostly sunshine, it ended up being the wettest apple season in years! It was good hard work eight hours a day six days a week. We really enjoyed our days off! It's monotonous work but it's not unenjoyable. One has lots of time to think, or not think, while picking and climbing up and down ladders. And every now and then one has a bit of excitement, one day I fell off my ladder and landed on my flat back with a full bag of apples on top of me. I was unable to pick for the rest of that day and had to lie in the car feeling useless.

Some of the things I learnt while apple picking: I learnt which end is the top of an apple, and I learnt that happiness dose not depend on my occupation, and I can find funny things and beauty in anything if I look for it. 

Here's the car we traveled around in. What fun! Dominic rebuilt it himself and spent six months driving around the country in it. The only problem with it was her appetite!

   When apple picking season was over we were out of there! It felt so good not to have to wake up at 6:30 every morning to the sound of Stan Walker singing Choose You. We spent the next three weeks traveling slowly home. We camped most nights unless we walked out to a hut. The weather was getting cold, but three of us in that tiny tent kept us warm at night.

   We went up to farewell spit, visited some amazing huts where we met more locals than when we had been in civilization. There Dom went deer hunting and came back with a goat which he smoked well salted in the chimney. It was great to have fresh meat, not cheap or easy to keep when traveling.

 There are so many amazing places to see in New Zealand. I only saw a small part of the South Island but it has made me want to spend all the more time there. There's so much more space down there, and less people, and more magnificent. Sounds ideal for a painter like me! 

 This wasn't a hut drawing trip, but I managed to draw a few that we went to. This is a hut in the Golden Bay area. A very beautiful place, but I probably didn't appreciate it as much as it deserved because it was so much like the North Island and Northland.

  On the way up we made our way slowly up the North Island. We visited the part of NZ the never really sticks out in my mind, the East coast below Hawke's Bay. There is farmland for miles there, from the mountains to the coast, and barely a tree, just grass. It was beautiful.

   We drove by the place of the longest name in the world quite unexpectedly! Then we drove around the coromandel and had two beautiful days of pure sunshine. One evening as we were starting to look for a place to camp, we decided to ask a farm if we could camp in their paddock for the night as it was getting dark, and the next free campsite was still a long way off. So we drove up to a place and, feeling rather awkward, knocked on the door; next thing we knew we had been put up in the shed. A fully furnished flat with a kitchen and sky tv! We were stunned! In the morning we found out that our host was the son of my Dad's very good friend up here. It was an extraordinary turn of events, which didn't end there. My friend, Marion, found out that she had once stayed with the people who lived next door. It was wonderful to find connections with people far away from home, it was encouraging and we went on our way heartened and the sun came out. 

    And now I'm home, I had a grand time away. I've had a good break and am already settled down into work again. And in a couple of weeks I'm off again to draw more huts. More about that project in another post.