Monday 24th March – Part 1

I woke quite early to the sound of rain on the roof and the waves crashing on the shore.
I sat and wrote up my blog for a while until it was light enough & for the rain to ease for me to go outside, to take photos of the beautiful sunrise which was surfacing across the bay around 7:20am.
Mahalia came buzzing out about 25 mins later wanting to take photos of the sunrise too.
Both children were up by then so I got them to come sit on my bed to have a d&m talk.
There were a lot of issues that needed raising and discussing that had been building over the past few days.
One was how to behave and deal with conflict.
That physical and verbal attacks are not acceptable and if there are differences they need to be discussed with consideration and in a civil manner.
The other was how to deal with comments from others.
Over the past few weeks I have watched Mahalia change from being happy, light hearted & carefree to being dejected sad & withdrawn in just a few seconds when someone comments about her being so tall.
I talked about how we cannot be responsible for what people say to, or about us, but we can be responsible for how we react.
Yes, it is difficult to come to grips with your height when you are only 14 and you have already reached 154cm, but that is in your genes and it is the way God has made you and you have to accept it at some stage so make it easier on yourself and accept it gracefully as soon as you can.
Yes, there are people out there who are very insensitive and think it is okay to comment on you being tall, whereas they would never come up to you and say ‘wow you are so fat’ or ‘my goodness you are incredibly short’ etc.
So to anyone reading this, please think twice when talking/commenting to young people about themselves.
Try and reflect a positiveness in what you say to them!
I know personally that there are aspects of myself that I have felt very negative about for most of my life, until some random stranger has made a positive comment quite out of the blue which has made me look again and helped me to claim that part of me as being acceptable and attractive.
We lay and cuddled quietly for a while – it was good 🙂

After a nice leisurely morning we breakfasted and while I showered the kids cleaned up and got ready to go exploring.
First we drove to the campground and Mahalia & I went rock hopping.
P1070301P1070303P1070304 P1070305P1070312 P1070314 P1070323P1070331 P1070335 P1070340P1070341 P1070342 P1070345

The weather is quite calm at present so the waves are surging relatively peacefully.
I would love to see it here on a stormy day!
The seaweed seems to have a life of it’s own the rise and fall of the waves makes it almost breath.
I often think as I am exploring the environment that I would like to be a more clued up scientifically about all the rocks and plants etc but then I realise that I actually prefer to just look at things through the eyes of an artist and enjoy the patterns and shapes and colours and remain blissfully ignorant about the rest of it all 😉
We drove over to the carpark on the other side of the camp and went for a walk down onto Porpoise Bay.
It is the other end to where we are staying.
There were Hector Dolphins swimming beyond the breakers.
You can just see two black things in this photo.
They were not playing today, just swimming quietly.
But it was cool to see them.
We drove along to the Curio Bay penguin lookout where we had been last night.
The tide was out and it was between 10am and 4pm so we were allowed to walk freely on the rocks.
Outside those hours you have to stay within the ropes so you do not disturb the penguins as they go to and for their nests & chicks.
The rocks are a petrified forest.
It is really cool seeing the stumps and logs which have been turned into stone over time.
We walked right along to the northern end of the rocks just cuz we could and they looked cool.
P1070350  P1070352
We got a real bonus by going that far.
Look who was standing behind a large rock out of view of most of the visitors.
We were so excited 🙂
After waiting with 50 other tourists last night and seeing nothing we get to see a Hoiho or yellow-eyed Penguin in the daylight up close.
Super cool!!!
We behaved ourselves in our excitement.
Kept quiet and kept our distance so as not to disturb or frighten it.
P1070367 P1070371 P1070373 P1070374 P1070376
From there Mahalia went off to do some jumping on the far rocky outcrop.
Thankfully it was a calm day because the waves sweep in over here when it is rougher.
P1070377 P1070378 P1070379 P1070382 P1070389 P1070392 P1070399

Sunday 23rd March

We were packed up and away from the motel by 9:30am.
It was very grey and misty this morning.
Everyone kept telling me that the skies would break open and we would get a good day.
We drove south and had to use the wipers intermittently as we drove over the hills.
But once we got down on the other side it was all clear.
We stopped for 5 minutes at Niagara Falls.
They were named by a surveyor with an obvious sense of humour 🙂
The early settlers took their wool by punt from Niagara Falls to be loaded on to ships at Waikawa.

We arrived at Curio Bay at 10:30am.
The scenery blew our socks off!!
I drove to the camp ground and asked the shop lady where to find the fellowship meeting.
I had read in a brochure last week that there was a Christian Fellowship in Curio bay which meets at 10:30am each Sunday, so when I realised we were going to be arriving here on Sunday I asked the kids if we could get ourselves packed up in time to get there and we did!

We found the Curio Bay Christian Community Centre just up the road front he campground, a few folk already there socialising.
We were warmly welcomed by the pastors Paul & Celia Watson.
There were 2 American couples visiting plus a few local families.
A crowd of kids arrived soon after we had started the service.
The view from the windows is awe inspiring.
It was built about 15 years ago in the most perfect place and lays claim to the most southern church in NZ.
It was the first time in 13 months that I have set foot in any sort of church so today was very God led as the introductory talk was about not being forsaken.
Celia read Hebrews 13:5 from the Amplified version which spoke right to the depths of my soul.
It was a very emotional time for me.
I have felt so lost without Tim.
So alone and without purpose.
At the end of the the service Paul had a word of encouragement for me.
Basically the word was to go forward with the vision we had and make it my vision.

They have a shared lunch afterwards which we were all invited to stay for.
Mahalia was not feeling well so she went out to the car while Azzan & I mingled.
Met some lovely folk, including an Israeli woman & her son whose family are wwoofing nearby.
Another lady invited us for dinner tomorrow night which I gladly accepted.

We left and went for a drive up to the top of the hill opposite at the north end of Curio Bay.
It seriously is the most dramatically wonderful scenery.
Looking back at the mainland with Penguin Bay on the right and Curio Bay on the left and the camping ground in the middle amongst the shelter of the flax bushes.
P1070219 P1070220 P1070221 P1070225 P1070226 P1070233 P1070234 P1070244 P1070246 P1070249
It was quiet cool and very windy so we drove back to the campground and they phoned up Nick at Catlins Surf School who I had booked our holiday home through.
He met us at Penguin Rest Cottage and let us in.
It is a cute wee place with a fantastic view of the beach.
I watched a kite surfer for a while and then joined the kids.
P1070253  P1070258
We all just chilled out for the rest of the day.
It was a good and very necessary way to spend our Sunday afternoon.
I started cooking dinner around 6pm.
I had some leftover lasagne sheets from Mahalia’s birthday dinner so made a lasagne by stir frying carrots, zucchini, bacon then added pasta sauce and layered it with a jar of alfredo sauce.
It made enough for two meals!
We enjoyed one dish tonight, it was very tasty.P1070278
Around 7:30pm we drove up the road to Curio Bay to watch for the Hoiho – yellow-eyed penguins who are often seen coming in at dusk.
Along with about 50 others we waited for ages tonight but gave up and come home.
Will try again another night.

I was really upset by the kid’s behaviour tonight so sent them both off to bed as soon as we got home.
I was feeling really let down and just didn’t want to be bothered with sorting out nonsense.
It is good to have a place with two bedrooms for a few nights – we need some space from each other sometimes.
I sat and chilled out with a Caramel Latte and watched a movie on tv for a while.
Mixed emotions tonight.
Missing Tim’s companionship badly.
When I finally got to my bed I was delighted to find it so very comfortable with a cosy mattress topper and duvet.
I was very snug.
I read my iPhone kindle for a while before falling asleep.
Was woken around midnight by a loud beeping noise.
Tried to block it out but it wouldn’t stop so I got up to see where it was coming from.
Finally tracked it down to some kind of small electronic gadget on top of a bookcase.

I had to take the batteries out to quieten it!
Back to bed.
Read some more till I was able to go back to sleep.

Saturday 22nd March – Part 5 Purakaunui Bay

The guy at the Lost Gypsy Caravan had suggested that we should go visit Purakaunui Bay.
So we made the long trek there after the falls visit.
It was quite a long gravel road which freaked me out a tad.
I can handle dirt roads but the unpredictability of gravel scares me especially as we were on the outside edge of the road, so I was driving quite slowly.
It was a very worthwhile diversion.
What a spectacular bay.
There were a lot of folk camping and I can see why.
It is such a beautiful spot.
We went for a walk around the rocks on the southern side of the beach.
And then across the wide expanse of the beach to the cliff bas on the northern side.
A dramatically stunning bay.
P1070141 P1070142 P1070143 P1070144 P1070146 P1070149 P1070152 P1070153 P1070154 P1070159 P1070161 P1070164 P1070166 P1070168 P1070170 P1070172 P1070173 P1070175 P1070177 P1070179 P1070180 P1070186 P1070188 P1070190
It was after 6pm when we drove bcd over the estuary bridges approaching Papatowai.
The children had been wanting to go to Tautuku Beach to swim but they conceded they were far too tired and were just wanting to go back to the unit for dinner and bed.
I was rather pleased at that decision.
We had sausages and veges for dinner and then I left the kids to get ready for bed so I could go find the local cemetery.
I meandered up a gravel road for about 3.5kms and eventually found it.
A very peaceful spot.
It was good to wander quietly alone amongst the old graves there and to contemplate a while.
My friend Kat lost her partner Colin last year and I wanted to go pay my respects while in the area.
Left some flowers for him Kat xxxxx

When I got back the children were cleaning up and getting ready for bed.
I collapsed on their bed and Azzan gave me a foot and leg massage.
That ended up in a great deal of hilarity before I was able to snuggle them down to sleep.

Saturday 22nd March – Part 4 Purakaunui Falls

We then went on to find the Purakaunui Falls.
No problem finding them – there were cars & camper vans for Africa in the parking area.
I keep losing my days – remembered it was Saturday so no wonder there were a lot of folk around.
Plus we found out later that it is Otago’s Anniversary Day on Monday so a lot of folk taking advantage of that along with the lovely weather to have a long weekend before winter sets in.
It was an easy walk in to the falls.
I had to keep stopping though as the trees were fascinating.
Lots of old gnarly Matai with wonderful hobbit holes in their trunks.

IMG_6259  P1070077 P1070078 P1070079 P1070080 P1070081 P1070082 P1070083 P1070084 P1070085 P1070089 P1070092 P1070093 P1070095 P1070097
There were a few people down in the river very focused and intense about taking photos.
One woman was in full burka and was getting absolutely soaked which was causing quite a lot of interest from above.
Consequently it was rather difficult to get any photos of the falls without someone in the picture :-/
As we walked there were a lot of others passing and I caught sight of someone who looked very familiar.
I was puzzling over it and what his name might be.
When we got to the viewing platform he was there with his wife and daughter so I plucked up the courage to ask.
After some bantering we established that yes it was the person I thought he was and we had a lovely quick catch up.
It is about 23years since John was our Correspondence School rep for our Pelorus area.
He seemed quite pleased to hear we had claimed our freedom and were home educating 🙂
Mahalia & I walked around the side and on to the rocks to get some different angles.
They are very beautiful falls.
They are probably the most photographed falls in the Catlins.
On the way back up the track were these beautiful falls on the river above.P1070104 P1070107 P1070111 P1070120 P1070122 P1070124 P1070126 P1070130 P1070132 P1070137

Saturday 22nd March – Part 3 Barrs Falls

We went to Owaka and had some lunch at the cafe so we could use the internet.
Well, I had lunch and the kids had a drink.
The kids didn’t want to eat there.
Apparently it was all too embarrassing as they had been there a couple of days ago and didn’t like the food and didn’t want to be seen by the staff etc etc etc…….
I enjoyed what I had and wasn’t worried about being recognised 😉
I did some blog uploading while I ate.
After a while we cruised over to the LumberJack Cafe and the kids had their lunch.
It was a very nice establishment and good food.
Then we replenished our pantry at the 4Square Supermarket and drove off to suss out the Barrs Falls.
They are just out of town and up a long gravel road.
Meandered up the hill and parked on the side of the road.
Obviously not a tourist destination as there was only room for a couple of cars and not much sign of people on this track!
But we were glad to have made the effort.
It was a pretty walk down to them and they were rather lovely.
P1070043 P1070044 P1070047 P1070048 P1070050 P1070052 P1070061 P1070068 P1070072

Saturday 22nd March – Part 2 Matai & Horsehoe Falls

We drove towards Owaka and stopped off to walk into the Matai & Horseshoe Falls.
It was a lovely walk in.
I proceeded to give the kids a pep talk on behaviour and was told, ‘Don’t worry Mummy, we have talked and we have sorted out our issues.’ 🙂
‘Look Mum, we are blending in’!
We went up to the Horseshoe Falls first.
They were very pretty.
P1060994 P1060997P1060998P1070007P1070008
Then down to the Matai Falls which are just the next falls down the river.
Can’t help wondering what all these falls would be like after a good rain.
It is getting very dry down this way too.
No decent rain in quite a while.
Azzan’s foot was troubling him so Mahalia gave him a short piggyback.
These bright golden-brown trees have been fascinating me.
I am curious to know what they are.
The foliage is hard to see as it is above the canopy and the branches we could see had no leaves on them.
The view from the top of Table Hill looking north into the Owaka Valley.P1070038

Saturday 22nd March – Part 1 Lost Gypsy Caravan

Our first port of call was just up the road to the Lost Gypsy Galley.
We had been told by many people that we had to visit it.
And I am so glad we did.
It is fantastic.
A veritable playground of riotous imagination.
Everything is mechanical.
There are so many interactive things.
Handles to turn, knobs to push, things to squeeze, all resulting in a mechanical display of some sort or other.
This ‘blind clock’ was cool.
We paid the entry fee and went up the path to explore the Winding Thoughts Theatre.

The first thing the kids found delighted them no end.
When they turned the handle the legs of a kraken began moving all over this large bush.
This game was fun.
They had to throw golf balls into a gumboot.
Took them a while to figure out how they got from the gumboot back into the catcher at the end again!
A Bush in a Box in a Bush was fun.
When you pushed the button a short recording or George Bush would play.
The bike provided impetus to peddle hard to see what was on the tv screen!
Paua shells on a water wheel.
Had to laugh about this one Crimes Against Nature.
When you pushed the button a light came on and showed the Barbie Doll in various poses.
This room had lots of interactive electrical gadgets and gizmos.

The music room was fantastic.

Each key and foot pedal connected to something in the room to create an eccentric orchestra of the unexpected.
P1060935P1060969   P1060976P1060975P1060974P1060973P1060972P1060971
Even the toilet was amazing.
A very interesting stop visit.
Educational without the kids realising it 😉
Most worthwhile.

Friday 21st March – Part 6 Tautuku Beach

As we drove back to the motel we saw a sign to Tautuku Beach so I did a quick backup and u-turn which took us along a track and out onto this vast expanse of beach.
We saw there were other vehicles so were confident of driving out there.
I parked up and Azzan made friends with a wee dog from the car nearby.
It’s owners just walk doff and left it to play which suited Azzan 🙂

The kids changed into their swimming togs & went frolicking in the breakers.
There was a large flock of gulls on the beach which created a lively diversion.

The kids played and I wandered for about half an hour and then we headed back to the motel which was just a few minutes up the road.
It was then time to shower and get dinner ready.
Mahalia fried up some mince and added it to the pasta sauce left from last night and cooked up some penne pasta.
It was very tasty.
We were hungry and tired.
I sorted my photos from the day while they cooked.
Then they sorted the photos they want to use int he their journals.
We swapped beds tonight – Mahalia moved in with Azzan and I took the single one.
Azzan was under very strict instructions that there would be absolutely no nonsense tonight and sleep was in order for all!!

Friday 21st March – Part 5 Lake Wilkie

Up the road a wee way was the walk into Lake Wilkie.
It is a depression between the sand dunes and cliffs where water has been trapped.
It is called a ‘bog lake’ – originally much larger than today’s 1.7hectares – slowly filling in over time.

The walk was worth stopping for.
We wandered through 4 forest zones.
It was 5pm and the lake was so still.
The reflections were creating absolutely stunning mirror images of the surrounding hills and forest.

Mahalia was spotting small red dragonflies flitting about on the watertop.P1060768P1060769P1060772P1060773P1060775P1060776P1060778P1060779P1060780P1060787P1060790P1060791P1060792P1060794P1060795 P1060798P1060799P1060805P1060808P1060802P1060811

There are some wonderful specimens of majestic Rimu trees.
I needed to use my panorama setting to get the whole trees into the photos!!

A very worthwhile place to stop & explore.
It was only 25 minutes and we walked the boardwalk twice as it was so beautiful.

Friday 21st March – Part 4 Tautuku Estuary

The walk to Tautuku Estuary was just a short 30mins return.
It is the area which the Tautuku Sawmill was operating at the beginning of the 1900’s.
There are signs along the gravel road in from telling what buildings were there.
Several 4 & 5 bedroom houses etc.

It is a short walk through regenerating forest to the estuary.
I have never seen tall stands of manuka like these.
They are amazing – so straight and tall.

On the north side where we were walking, the forest has been regenerating since it was logged during  the 1930’s.
On the southern side we could see across to untouched rimu-kamahi-southern rata forest.


The boardwalk took us out into the middle of the estuary.
It’s a pretty magnificent saltmarsh.
Azzan was like – ‘it’s just a big swamp’!!P1060701P1060715P1060724P1060728P1060729P1060730P1060731
But on closer inspection we found some very cute wildlife scuttling around in the mud below the lookout.
The birdlife down here is fantastic too.
Where ever we go we can hear birdsong.
It is so beautiful.