Month: December 2019

A Caving Trip!

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Plan B, Day 2 – a bit of an adventure up the Maitai Valley. Starting at the Maitai Dam, this trail took us for 3kms or so along a really runnable, undulating trail.

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Then we hit the river, which we had to cross! Knee deep and about 15ft wide with freezing water! The trail from here on in, as described in the guide was very gnarly, lots of tree roots, narrow, greasy and at some points the stream flowed along it. So we sloshed our way upwards as the path climbed through beautiful woodland.

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After a couple of kms (less than the signs indicated) we arrived at Maitai Cave.

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I ventured in to explore while Jo and Paula waited outside for me. I could hear the stream from above and it sounded like there was quite a lot of water. Difficult to see initially how far down the climb was to get to it and how much of the passage it filled. I clambered down greasy, muddy boulders making tentative use of the rope that was belayed around the rock that wedged across the entrance.

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Landing in the ankle-deep stream at the bottom I could see that it emerged from a small opening directly ahead of me. I looked to my right first to see what was there but after a few steps saw that there was no way on. I ducked down and could see that it was possible to get into where the stream was emerging. I crawled into a short passage that only went a few metres. the water seemed to be coming from under the rock wall.

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On coming back out, I followed the stream (all of 2 – 3 metres!) to where it disappeared underground – a couple of tree trunks were wedged in the stream.

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Turning around to my right, I looked up and saw that there were more boulders with a piece of tat hanging down. Above them was an aven. I climbed up, inspecting the rope carefully as I may well need it to get down again. The floor was strewn with large boulders, mostly covered in greasy mud and knowing that Jo and Paula were waiting outside I decided not to go any further. It didn’t look like there was a way on.

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Shining my light upwards I could see that the aven was about 30 ft high but difficult to see if there were any stals. Apparently Maitai Cave is the home to a very rare snail but I couldn’t see any pools that it could have been in – all water I saw in the cave was flowing quite fast!

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I was quite cold by the time I clambered out, very muddy and wet! We made our way back down through the forest. It really is a beautiful trail. The river flowed on our left and we soon came to a point where the path met the river and by then I was warm enough to give myself a bit of a wash and get rid of the bulk of the mud!

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It took us about 2 and a half hours in total to do the 11kms and 20 minutes or so of cave exploration. The sign at the start says it is 13km and will take 5 hours. However, we did run all the runnable parts (approx 6km).

Campervanlife …. WOMAD 2018

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We have been trying to get to WOMAD ever since we came to NZ. We often went in to the WOMAD Festival in Morecambe when the kids were little. It was just down the road so we could easily drive in for the day and come home.

New Plymouth is about a three and a half hour drive away from Hamilton and so it was always going to be a stay over event and tickets for the whole weekend are expensive. We would have liked to have taken the boys but it is during term time and we couldn’t justify taking them out of school, or indeed me having a day out either! So, boys no longer in school + me no longer in school + campervan = Let’s go to WOMAD!

By the time Nigel picked me up from Taupō where I was at a conference and we stopped to get petrol and pootle along at campervan speed, it was after 9pm when we arrived at the festival grounds. It was a wee bit atmospheric as the sun went down.

We headed straight out to find some food, taste the ambiance and catch the last few bands of the evening. We saw the tail end of Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band (Ghana) and then Adrian Sherwood.

A great start to the weekend’s entertainment. Vibrant, funky beats from Pat Thomas followed by the one man disc spinning and magical soundmaker that is Adrian Sherwood. I was mesmerised by the sounds he conjured up using his turntables and a whole heap of gadgetry.

Next morning we went for a walk into New Plymouth to find coffee and explore a bit. Love the new arts building – a real juxtaposition of old and new. The ocean-front walk helped blow the cobwebs away.

The afternoon was a medley of colour, sounds, tastes and smells. Music and food from all around the world and feast for the senses.

We were fortunate with the weather; it was pleasantly warm without being too hot and the threatened rain mainly stayed away. I loved wandering around the food stalls and choosing what to eat next. Everyone was friendly, relaxed and happy and there was a real mix of ages and ethnicities. The ‘Over 65’ seating was a new one on me and there were areas for wheelchair users too.

Flower crowns seemed to be the ‘thing’ and so I duly bought one, and we also bought a colourful ‘flag/banner’ for the campervan so we can mark our spot!

The app proved very useful for planning our weekend so that we could see all the bands that we wanted to and know exactly where to go at what time. There were a few artists that Nigel knew he wanted to see but after that, it was just a case of reading the blurb and seeing what fit in.

We had to do some half and halves to get to see as many bands as we could and it was sometimes hard pulling ourselves away. Highlights were – Anoushka Shankar – close your eyes and be transported, Daymē Arocena – young and vibrant with a real different sound and she had the audience in her hands as she asked for words in Te Reo Māori to sing – Arohanui was offered to her which she turned in to a beautiful song and had everyone singing along , Lemon Bucket Orchestra who continued to play in the crowd after their time was up on the stage so that the next band could set up. They played conga style with the crowd following behind. Such energy and passion! Maisey Rika and Blick Bassey were two others who really stood out to me.

  • Bixiga 70 (Brazil)
  • Blick Bassy (Cameroon)
  • Chico Trujillo (Chile)
  • Daymé Arocena (Cuba)
  • Ghada Shbeir (Lebanon)
  • Havana Meets Kingston (Jamaica / Cuba)
  • Hopetoun Brown (Aotearoa)
  • Jojo Abot (Ghana / USA)
  • Kamasi Washington (USA)
  • Lemon Bucket Orkestra (Canada)
  • Maisey Rika (Aotearoa)
  • The Miltones (Aotearoa)
  • Tinariwen (Mali)
  • Violons Barbares (France)
  • Anoushka Shankar (India/UK)
  • Adrian Sherwood (UK)
  • Aldous Harding (Aotearoa)

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