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East Otago Caching

Over Christmas & New Year PB & I had a twelve day holiday. For once, we actually got to take the holiday that we planned. The last two years have been challenging ones with a lot of family illnesses & surgeries, and we have often had to change or put on hold our plans. So we were glad that we had the chance to do our own thing on this trip.  We’ve discovered that we’ve got to take our chances while we can.

We did spend the first few days over the Christmas weekend visiting family – as you do – then we flew the coop. Of course we got a few caches while we were doing family stuff as well – as you do – and even took some my family members to one cache. My Dad & little.sis quite enjoy finding the occasional cache ( little.sis plans to get her own GPS) but I think the other relatives find it a bit of a crazy hobby. 
 

Clarke's Mill

< This photo is from  Clarke’s Mill GC1TW3Q which is near the town where a lot of my family live.  We’d like to go back here when it’s open & see inside.  I didn’t realise that it ever DID open, so we’ll have to plan our timing better on some other trip.

  After the family visiting we started to head down the east coast, which is very different than our green & forested West Coast. There is much more rural land instead of wilderness, and rolling hills instead of wild mountainous ones. 
 
We had a night of not-quite-free camping at a Department of Conservation camping ground at Trotter’s Gorge . This was an amazing drive in, not so much for the scenery (because it was dark), but for the rabbits & hares running across the road. We lost count in the end – over a dozen!!  Rabbits are a pest problem here in NZ, but even so, we don’t usually see THAT many all on one short piece of road.

 

 

Campsite river

 By the time we arrived it was quite dark, so we didn’t really see the landscape around us, but in the morning we saw that we literally were camped in a narrow gully and that the river was quite pretty. 

 

 

 

"I got it!"

 

 There were – of course – caches. Where in NZ aren’t there caches!!! So we went to hunt a couple. They were both a good challenge despite quite descriptive hints, as the GPS reception under tree cover, in a gully was not too good.  Here is me at GC1BDHX  The Draw Bridge  

 

 

The next step on out trip was to head back out to the coast again. We picked up a few more caches 7 a few more photos – these ones are near GCYFQD   Katiki Beach .

Early Morning Beach

 

Wildflower

I favourite this cache just because I really enjoyed our morning stroll along the sand. You see, we don’t really have much sand on our West Coast beaches – especially right near our little town – and what there is, is greyish, not golden and, well….  sandy coloured!  

 These two photos are from near a place called Shag Point  (yes, really!) There are a few caches there, some we got on a previous trip, but we found three more this trip – and had a DNF. The seagull got photographed during our DNF, as there were too many people about for us to have a really good search.  There is an ‘official’ seal viewing lookout in this are too, but we saw more seals & closer at the cache called  Seal Watch  GC274P5 .  Probably a case of the locals knowing where the best viewing really is.  

People Watching

Seal Watching

 

We also did a few caches around the little town of Palmerston  Some of the caches here, I have to say, were not that great. But it was still worth the stop as there are a few good ones too. Our most interesting one was Sir John Makenzie GC25YDV   .  This was a real stealth challenge, and I’m sure in the end we quite obvious, but sometimes it’s the only way.  Again a few photos – including the rose & statue got taken while searching for this one!! I really do wonder about people sometimes, as I’m sure one of the dozen or more that passed by MUST have wondered what we were doing.

 

Decoy Photo

Zealandia

 

 

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Waiting

Our little community here has recently suffered a tragedy. I’ll not name it as I’m not interested in the visits of those who search the internet for such things. Those of you who know me from Twitter or elsewhere know what it was in any case. I wrote this last week just as something personal to recognise my own perspective. As it happened later that day an announcement was made that effectively ended the search for the ‘bodies.’  Not that there will be bodies. One of the senior police officers involved said something to the effect of: “The time has come to memorialise those who have died and to focus our energy on the living.”  To my mind that how I see it too – but that’s just my entirely personal opinion.  ___________________________________________________________

 

Waiting

 One day,on a Friday in November, twenty nine men went off to work as they usually did. They kissed their mothers, lovers, wives – or slammed the door on them. They whistled to the dog & gave it a rub on the head – or swore at it, they cuddled their children – or kicked forgotten toys across the lawn.

In any case, they went to work. As they usually did.

Got on a bus, laughed with their mates, joked with the driver, planned their weekends. As they usually did.

Arrived at their workplace, collected their equipment, rode down the long dark tunnel. As they usually did. 

Well, for one it wasn’t usual. It was his first day at work. Early. He should have gone the next Monday, but he was so keen that he went on Friday, in November.

For others, it was a life’s work, here or around the world – Australia, South Africa, Scotland. But today it was here. Doing what they usually do.

I’m not going to say what they usually do for we all know, and for those that don’t, it doesn’t matter anyway. Because it could be any tragedy, anywhere in the world. An earthquake, a flood, an industrial accident, a vehicle smash, a day of play. We all go about doing what we usually do. No one expects not to return. No one expects their loved one not to return.

But something about the day didn’t go as it usually did.  Maybe we’ll never know what.

And by the end of the day, the hospitals were being readied, the media were arriving.  There were people in uniforms, sirens. And helicopters. 

Waiting.

There were tears & sobbing, vacant faces, confusion, fear, cakes & cups of tea, solemn announcements, hopeful announcements, tissues & cameras.  And always the helicopters.

Waiting.

Then gas tests & robots, cameras & media briefings, family meetings, mattresses, cakes & cups of tea, phonecalls, emails, cards, whitebait fritters & cups of teas. More helicopters.

Waiting.

Explosions, anguish, wailing, fainting. The cameras mostly went away. Dead people aren’t news it seems. More cards, soft toys, McDonalds, pizza, Arguments, briefings, debriefings. No more helicopters.

Waiting.

They’re still waiting. Or not. The mothers, lovers, wives, children, dogs. Some  had to leave – back to their home countries and towns. With sorrow in tow, and sullen teens, fatherless children, pregnant bellies, broken hearts.  Some wait still, for a body unlikely to come. Unbelieving, or unbelievably still hopeful. I’m not sure which.

And today, we go to our work. To our play. To our tasks around the home. As we usually do.  Waiting.

Weekend Visit

Down here in little ole’ NZ we’ve just had a four day weekend for Easter. We are five weeks into autumn, so it sort of signals the end of outdoor adventures for some people, and the beginning  for others!!

Poor PB spent a good part of his weekend at his work, due to being in the middle of a 13 day run of on call days.  And a lot of complicated things needed dealing to, so he really didn’t have a great time. On top of that he developed a really bad tooth ache, which resulted in having a tooth extracted this week. 😦

In the meantime, I was jaunting around the countryside with my brother & his friend! Our mission was to figure out a route for the 4WD trip that he is planning to lead over here in a few months.

At this stage it looks like it will be through some back roads and forestry land around the area of Lake Hochstetter.  

This lake is named after the Austrian geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter, who briefly surveyed some areas of New Zealand in 1859. A range of New Zealand plants and animals are named after Hochtetter including one of our frogs – Hochstetter’s Frog.  

This is a natural lake, but for 10 years or so from 1876 it was enlarged by putting a dam across one of the creeks that enter it. The water was used for mining. The ruins of this dam and its control gate can be seen today in the vicinity of the geocache:  GCX20B Control Gate.  There is also another cache by the lakeside: GCX58H Hochstetter near where the photo below was taken.    

Hochstetter

 

Near  that cache location we had a close encounter with a weka, which is a very common and pesky New Zealand bird – fortunately a little more brainy than another common bird, the pukeko!!!  These birds have in the past been known as ‘ bush chickens’ – but it is now illegal to eat them, unless you live on The Chathams.

Bush Chicken

Along the road we saw a fantastic specimen of a native climber the Rata. This plant can either be a vine or a tree – or both! – in the course of its life span.

Rata vine growing on a tree

Rata Flowers

Another part of our weekend was chicken minding. I think the chicken would be glad that we wee only looking after them for one day, as we couldn’t find their food in the morning. They went a little hungry until lunch time after PB had found out WHERE the food was!!!

Regular Chickens

On Sunday my brother & I went on a bit of a photo taking trip around town so that I could get a photo for PJ’s weekly challenge at Flickr. See the Hoohaa 52 group for more photos  !!  And here is my eventual entry.

Water

Of course we managed to fit a couple of family meals and some Easter Egg eating in there too!

Art in the Park

Busy weekend this weekend. PB was ‘working’  (well, more like playing!!) all day proving the sound for the musicians at this event.

The Advertising Postcard.

It’s a local annual arts weekend – music, dance, visual arts and kid’s activities. Well, this year they stopped calling the creative activities ‘kid’s activities’!!! I made a mosaic tile – but I got so busy making it, that I forgot to take photos!!! LOL When I get it back (the lady is going to grout them) I’ll take a picture!

I didn’t take pictures of the ‘professional’ artists that  were exhibiting and selling their art works – they often aren’t too happy if you do.  But here are a few snaps of some of the other stuff that was going on.

The venue is “Shantytown,” which is a kind of a pioneer village that is one of the tourist attractions around town. I have been here heaps of times, as most schools take part in the education programme at least once a year.

Pioneer Villlage

But this weekend I saw it in a totally different light.  Humming and busy – with over 2000 people passing through during the weekend.

There was lots of different bead work for sale.

I'm not quite sure what this one was about!

One of the "children's" activities!!!

More "children's" work - or not!

The 'belly dancers' were my favourite. Amazing colour & movement.

Harold the Life Education Giraffe

 Life Education 

Solomon the Carriage Ride horse

This couple & their four children have travelled the world for ten years in a vintage car!!

Spark Your Dream

Wrought Iron Work.

FANTASTIC Cake Decorating.

PB's T-Shirt

FTF

Country Road

FTF is a geocaching term that  stands for ‘First to Find.’  Now this isn’t something that usually happens to us – it’s a bit of an extra game that some geocachers enjoy chasing. What is means is that you are the first person to find a geocache that has recently been hidden.  This particular one had been in its secret spot for a week now, and a couple of other caching teams have had a look for it. So we didn’t necessarily expect that we would find it. However the scarey fact is that we must be beginning to think like the person who hid this one, because we found it in a few seconds.

Signing the Log

Geocaching is at its basis a giant world-wide scavenger hunt!! Go to the right spot, find the right thing, sign the logbook to prove you were there, and that’s it. Sounds simple –right??

Ah ha – not necessarily so. The challenge of the game is that what’s hidden can only be found at a certain geographic location (or  983,726 certain locations as the case may be)  and that you need (in general) to use a GPS receiver to find the right spot and the ability to think outside the square to find the hidden box .  And the fun of it is there are as many deviously minded folk out there hiding these little suckers as there are deviously evil places to hide them, and the combination makes for some great adventures. Because you could be out for a simple stroll in the park with the family, looking for a lunch box sized or larger plastic container hidden under a tree, or you could be abseiling down a rock face, looking for a something the size of a matchbox hidden in a rock amongst a gazillion other rocks.

And the beauty of geocaching is that you often end up in amazing scenic spots, informative historical locations, quirky places that only the locals in an area know about, at fun artworks or intriguing old relics or any other number of interesting places that you never knew about before.

For some people the fun is in finding as many geocaches as they can, or as quickly as they can, or before anyone else (hence the FTF thing), or as many different types as possible – or any other  ‘game’ they make of it themselves.  For me, it’s mostly about the places geocaching takes me and the fun PB and I have together – whether we find the pesky little things or not.

Today, we ended up on a beautiful country road that we’d never been down before, and found an interesting old farming relic, and as a bonus we WERE the first to find!!

"Why can't I get this started!!"

The spiders are happy to have homes.

Not going anywhere fast!

So go here: Geocaching.com  and find out how many geocaches are near you. Just enter your town or postcode. And if you have a GPS go out and find one!!!

An Impromptu Caching Trip

After a couple of muddley days with lots of trips back and forth from town and to MIL’s, I’m hopefully going to get a chance to tell you about our impromptu caching trip on Monday night!!

After a weekend that was:

a) very busy –Saturday

b) very dismal – Sunday

we had done no weekend caching. So when Monday dawned warm and sunny,  PB declared that we need to do a cache. So we did.  We made a wee detour on our way across town to visit his Mum, and got this cache:  GC21Q8R Lost GPS. It was rather a case of lost cache for us, as it was not at all where we thought it would be – but there is that saying about assumptions ….

 Even our canine assistants were not much help – being more in the way, than in the lead when it came to cache sniffing. However PB finally spotted in (as is usually the case!)

"We can help Dad!"

"See, we know what a cache is!"

And we went off to visit his Mum, thinking that our caching was done for the day.

Later we were at home and belatedly starting to cook tea – and my cell phone rings. This is a rare thing as my normal means of communication is text or email. So after the surprise had worn off – I answered the phone.

 It’s Moneydork (another local cacher) on the phone.

“ Are you doing anything at the moment? “

“ Not really….”

“Is PB home? Is he on call?”

“ Yes. No.”

“Wanna get those three new caches in Reefton? I’ll be round in five minutes.”

 So we race round the house like mad things – as you do at such times – packed away the unmade, uneaten tea, loaded the caches, found some money, grabbed the caching bag, and ten minutes later piled into the truck with Moneydork and Pohutakawa  (Moneydork Jr.)

 So with a quick stop at Subway for those of us who were yet unfed, we were on our way.  Now the thing is, it’s already 7:30pm, Reefton is 60 minutes away, and we’re after only three basically road-side caches.  But when one is under the influence of New Zealand’s most prolific cache finder – these things are mere details. (And after all, it was his petrol …. sort of …. but that’s another story!)

 The good thing about summer evening caching at the moment is that it’s still light until after 9:00pm, so we had a daylight drive up and daylight finds and drove back home into the purple orange skies of the setting sun.

 The three caches we found were:  GC22CQK Bottled Lightning, GC22CR2 Reefton Pioneers and GC22GF2Lovelock Memorial. These photos were taken there abouts.

River View

Remember

Reefton Gold

A Small Caching Trip or Two.

 I said to someone just the other day that we don’t really have seasons here as such. We just have ‘raining’ or ‘not raining.’  Usually I really don’t mind the rain because when it’s not raining this really is the most beautiful part of the most beautiful country in the whole wide world (Hmmm …. I might just be  teensy bit biased though …..) and you don’t get rain forest without rain to make it grow.  Plus, I’m a little bit a weather freak who enjoys extreme weather. 

However, the ‘raining’ has gone on FAR TOO LONG, even for me, this year. Usually Spring is the main rainy season, but now we’ve had almost a month of official Summer. And it’s STILL raining. We’ve been getting one day of glorious sunshine – followed by three or four  or five days of rain. But not our usual rain  –  heavy rain that thunders on the roof, quickly floods the gutters and is over with, to clear quickly to  blue & yellow sunshiny days. No, we’ve been having damp, misty, claggy drizzle – sheets of it floating past the windows. The hills have disappeared, the trees have disappeared. In fact, the world has disappeared – apart from the hammering, sawing and swearing in the kitchen!!! 

Ruger in the Mist

Ruger & Neve in the Mist

So on Sunday, we went caching anyway. We just did the one cache on a small walk that goes along the edge of a local lagoon. And actually the mist added to the atmosphere. Part of the walk is boardwalk along the edge of the tidal lagoon, and then it loops back though a little patch of native bush.  We used to do this walk several times a week, and several times a week we used to amuse ourselves with the possibility of Neve falling off the board walk – which she has, several times.  She is such a busy body, that she is so interested in paying attention to everything else that is going on – except where she is walking!!  So now she stays on short leash – so at least we can fish her up again if she falls off. (And people say that heelers are a very intelligent dog ……… ) 

Yesterday – Monday – we had one beautiful clear sunny day, so we went on a small road trip to pick up a cache or three, and to check on some of our own ones.  We also got to have lunch out at one of our favourite cafes. 

We ‘found’ two caches at a little tourist village called Moana, which is on the edge of a lake about 30-40 minutes inland from where we live. It’s one of those little places that has a small resident population that  about trebles in the summer when the flashy holiday(vacation) homes that get lived in for two weeks a year are filled up.  We did notice that times must be hard at the moment as the pub/motel complex is up for mortgagee sale, the camping ground is for sale, and quite a number of the holiday homes have ‘ For Sale’ signs on them. I guess the recession is hitting those who used to have enough money for two homes. 

Lake Brunner & Te Kinga

Swingbridge over Arnold River

Arnold River lake outlet

I have to confess that we did not need to get the GPS out for the two caches here. Until recently we were co-owners of a large multi through Moana. We’d created it with some other local cachers for educational purposes when we were helping to run ‘Introduction to Geocaching’ days for various groups.  However, it was a pain in the butt to maintain – as you find with a 10 WP multi, parts kept going missing.  So its’ time had come! One of the other co-owners kept a couple of the WPs on as traditionals, and we went out to clear them off our list.  He had changed them a little, so I actually ended up taking a few minutes to find one of them, even though I knew the general location where it was hid very well.  And the other one was literally floating – we’ve had that much rain recently that the lake was the highest I’ve ever seen it. 

Near one of the caches

We stopped for a great lunch at a place called The Stationhouse Café in Moana. We stuck with routine and I had a venison burger while PB had his usual Cajian chicken version. 

Lunch with a view - PB's burger!

Our next stop was Iveagh Bay which is pretty much only occupied by holiday makers. Even more of the homes here were for sale, and there is some really expensive looking places around here!  We got a cache near here – which may or may not have been on this island.

Was it, or was it not, on the island?

 And failed to check on our own cache nearby as we didn’t come equipped with kayak or jet boat today – usually it is possible to walk along the shore to it. 

We drove around the lake to a place called Carew Falls to check on another cache of ours that doesn’t get found very often. And we haven’t actually been back since we placed it either. It’s just a 20 minute walk up to it, but a bit of a drive on gravel (unsealed) roads to get there. So that tends to put people off.  Fortunately it was all in good order, and had basically the same swaps in it that it had when we placed it. 

Carew Falls

The view looking down from the Falls

"Picnic anyone??"

Here are some views of this side of the lake!  There is a great cache called GCG00EBain Bay that we have walked around to from here previously – it’s about an hour around from this bay. We had a little wading to do when we found the cache, but today we’d have been swimming!!! The boardwalk going off to the left leads to a path around the shore to to Bain Bay and the cache. 

Park your truck…. or tie up your boat….

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cemetery Gates

To finish off the day we checked a couple of other caches including a short multi that starts at  a cemetery. It’s just a new  cache, but people seemed to be having trouble with it, though it should be quite straightforward. Everything was in place and as it should be, so perhaps it’s just a little more difficult than we think it is. Might have to add an extra half a star to the difficulty rating…..

 
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P.S. Getting the photos in the right places in this entry has just about driven me up the wall, so some of them still aren’t right, but I’m not fiddling with them aaaannnnnyyy more.  Helpful photo manangement hints from other WordPress bloggers most welcome.