Newsletter - August 25, 2006

A Résumé of the Art of Collecting Ideas, Memories and Experiences

We are Thomas & Katja, the German WWoofing couple cycle-touring through NZ for 1 year. We have to go home soon, but before we leave this beautiful country, we wanted to write our final good bye.


Bushbashing near Tauranga

“What brought you to NZ?” A question we have been asked several times. Actually it’s all Thomas’ “fault” He wanted to go travelling with his bike and see another side of the planet, and Katja just came along. The Rest kind of developed along the way… What we found was a small country with a great variety of landscapes, nature and characters, welcoming us warmly and amazingly trustful.

So let’s get started with the people and their places:

  1. Glendair, Chris and Johann, Banks Peninsula

A meeting of old friends, Thomas was waiting for so long, and the starting point for our NZ microgaming journey. A special tx to Chris getting us started and organized. We will never forget the view over Little Akaloa Bay waking up in the morning. Savouring the warm autumn sun we went on walks seeing Fantails and Cabbage Trees for the first time in our lives. Hope everything’s working out fine for you.


Okarito, West Coast

  1. Onuku Heights, Eckard, Banks Peninsula

Our first Wwoof experience we encountered high above Akaroa Bay made Katja wonder how she’ll ever survice this cycle trip, her elbows nearly breaking, pushing uphill. Thomas felt like an Orc, shifting huge makrocarpa logs within this scenery and the “Lord of the Rings” Soundtrack in his ears. The relaxed dinner conversations we’ll keep in good memory as well as our first possum! We appreciate your well organised and structured wwoofing schedule.


  1. Marc, Kaituna Valley

How patient can someone be! You taught us about strawbale building, passive solar heating and let us play and experiment with plaster. Nights were freezing, but the incredible vegan feasts kept our energy levels right up.


Kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park

  1. Tigh Solias, Mike, Christchurch

Working with 73 year old Mike made us feel old, how much energy can someone have! It must be all this healthy steamed fish and silverbeet! We were amazed by how many people know Mike Brosnan, when we mentioned your name along our wwoofing way. Also a big thanks for being our CHC Base – that was a good help for us and made things easier.


  1. Hohepa, CHC

Working together with mind challenged people made weeding and preparing orders so much more fun than it would have been without them. Happy faces! Here we met another Wwoofing couple for the first time and we really enjoyed exchanging ideas and viewpoints with you, Johanna and Mosez hope to see you soon!


Breakfast in Kauri Country

  1. Sirocco Wines, Paul, Rakaia

Your sense of humour and jokes delighted our day, especially your talent with copying accents. Sharing some glasses of wine gave us another approach on your “Labour of Love”. The grafting of routestocks sparked our interest.


  1. Waihi Bush Org. Farm, David, Geraldine

Real cattle farming, combined with interesting architecture, hidden pathways and artistic evening sessions made this an unforgettable visit. Goats heaven, lovely bush tracks and a fantastic panorama made it worthwhile going out feeding, on freezing mornings. Best Regards to Jim for introducing us to the hungry bulls, to Oliver for warming us up with some Milo and Hannah for the fun she spread.


Beach Time in the Abel Tasman National Park

  1. Pinehill, Jenny, Timaru

Your almost Bed and Breakfast Style Accommodation was certainly a highlight. We cherished sharing moments in front of the cosy coalrange with you, sorting out the garlic. The trip to Timaru was a nice change. Also the lift over the hill turned out to be a big help ;-). Thanks to Aidy and Haley for spoiling us and for their hospitality.


  1. Arnstead, Maurice and Neroli, Waimate

South island organic sheep farming with working dogs, tractor with post driver, very funny kids and most kind parents make us often think back in joy of the time we had on Arnstead. Here we got introduced to Starcharts, Hunterways and Thomas catching sheep. How to freak out a wwoofer? Send him miles away and up a steep hill with hundreds of old tyres on a trailer an see if he can handle it. 🙂


Avalanche Peak – Arthurs Pass

  1. Ruzak Park, Veronica, Oamaru

Medical Center and Bike Depot in one. It was a bit unfortune that Katja got sick and Thomas had to do all the work. In the end it all worked out fine. Katja got fit again and Thomas figured out how to handle the weed eater, which was useful on coming stops of our journey.


  1. Hoimed, Richard and Kate, Ida Valley

The freezer of NZ, and sure cold it was! A huge hot outside tub heated us right up into our hearts, while we were counting shooting stars and looking for the Southern Cross. Looking forward to build something like this bath by ourselves – in the name of “schwaebisches Weltreich”!


The Remarkables Mountain Range

  1. Felton Road Winery, Gareth, Bannockburn

Then it got serious. Heading towards Queenstown, we were running out of money :/ With finding our first paid job at Felton Road we felt really lucky and so we were. Living in the Portacom, a good working atmosphere and the organic approach made our first two weeks of paid work outstanding. Big Hello to all the staff.


  1. Dennis, Wanaka

There was much more than your big knowledge about trees. You surprised us everyday with different interests and skills. Variations reached from cryptic crosswords, acting and wearable arts to Indian techno music. Cooch grass roots are still haunting us in our dreams …


Brewster Hut – Mount Aspiring National Park

  1. Makarora Valley Organics, Raymond and Carol

How was the raspberry picking this season? We hope our sculptural tying up made it a bit easier. Mt. Constitution was a mission, the stunning views and the soaking outside bath the relief. Hope your new house construction is working well. Katja is still doing her flax weaving (lots of souvenirs!)


  1. Konuku Lodge, Cindy and Rainer, Okarito

Being able to have a fire at night (esp. after capsizing with the kayak), living on the beachfront and having stunning views over rainforest to the Southern Alps made this place very special and hard to leave. First time that we regret having a schedule to stick to.


Water Tramping

  1. Hokitika, Kim and Eileen

We enjoyed sharing your paradise and the evening conversations. Your travel stories about working in a Kibutz, cycle tour in the U.S. and Outward Bound made us feel like talking to soulmates. Moving on was a bit harder than usual.


  1. the Nook Guesthouse, Cathy and Dennis, Pohara, Golden Bay

Our first wwoof stop after our side trip to Japan grounded us back to normal. Your kindness and living in the housetruck watching Pukeko chooks introduced us warmly to the Golden Bay and the easy going lifestyle there.


Smoko (Resting time)

  1. Hinterland, Bill, Onekaka-Golden Bay

Spending X-Mas with you and your family was the best gift we could get. We enjoyed the bondfire, the ducklings and the life inside the Barn. Helping to save the stranded Pilotwales made this stay a lifetime memory.


  1. Hope Organics, Brent and Kevin, Nelson

Sharing a cosy cottage with a French wwoofer couple and working along with you guys made our time passing by way too quickly. We were impressed by the huge variety of veggies and fruit you grow and all in an organic way. Helping to sell the crops on the Saturday Market made the circle of planting, growing and harvesting complete. Celebrating New Years Eve in Nelson with Celine and Simon was lots of fun and Floyd and Charlie were the best entertainment we have had!


  1. Landhaven, Maud & Frans, deep in the Marlborough Sounds

If we would ever get in a situation of leaving Germany, NZ would be the country we’d choose to life, and Marlborough Sounds would definitely be the place to get settled. We didn’t need much time to decide on this. The fact that you so openly shared your paradise with us, made it very easy to fall in love with Landhaven. We had the most “stormy” welcome microgaming and the help from Tyst, Iske and Muske pushing our trailers up the steep driverway was very needed. Your insight on “parenthood” made us think in different ways and prepared us for the “the next big adventure”.


  1. Cathie Ellis, Wellington

You have been our capital base and our infomation source about the North Island. We will remember the days we’ve spent with you of endless planning, looking at maps and routes to take. A part of you was always with us as the new flags gave us a bit of a new identity because it shows our regional origins. They will be tavelling home with us!


  1. Sun Nest, Alex, Mt. Taranaki

The sounds of the Smiths and your yoga exercises kept us energized while cycling the North. The Feng Shui Wisdom taught us to look for good campsites balancing Tigers and Dragons and tidying our tent as it was our home. Unfortunately the summit of Taranaki was hiding from us in clouds, mist and rain, but we tried to find your house from the top of Mount Ruapehu 2 weeks later. Best of Luck with the  new born baby which must be due soon. Regards to Aileen.


  1. The Flying Fox, Annette and John, Whanganui River

We felt like lucky dogs being able to wwoof at your place. Arriving by cable car to this fairytale island made our stay even more exciting. We admire your building skills and the fact that you used those materials available to you. Preparing your garden for a TV team, set a whole new perspective on  weeding for us. A pity that we stayed during the busy season, as there was not much time for relaxed evening talks, but none the less we really enjoyed our time with kayaking and blackberry picking (Katja). A beautiful good bye being sent over the River – a memory we will take with us.


  1. Tauhara Centre, Andrew and Moira, Taupo

The whole week was dominated by wedding preparations and jigsaw puzzeling. Swimming and mountainbiking and spending time with other wwoofers, we had a relaxed and carefree holiday all together. We especially like to thank Geoff for showing us around and Emily for adding quality and meaning to our stay.


  1. Rachel and Henery, Coromandel Town

After 10 exhausting days of cycling we looked forward to a place where we could rest our bones. Meeting Rachel in the arty co-op shop briefly, we already knew it’s gonna be good. Welcomed into their fantastic adobe home, we entered a world of magic. We really much enjoyed the work which was something different to weeding, especially when Henery let us help creating a part of the garden wall in adobe in situ style. It’s good to see two healthy, happy people enjoying their time together with a positive and playful attitude towards life. You set a meaningful example for us. Also thanks for introducing us to the art of playing tambourelli.


  1. Mara Whenua, Yvonne and Wayne, Honeymoon Valley

Pedaling deep into Honeymoon Valley and finding Mara Whenua at the very end of the gravel road, was like diving into native bush forest. We felt insignificantly small. Your settlement seemed to have grown out of the bush as it is nestled into nature, being well integrated. Same to say for the gardens and orchards. The matured state of your applied permaculture concept taught us how natural you can live of the land. Our days were filled with the sound of hammers, Kiwis and running water from the river. Needless to say that we were mesmerized by the waterfall climbing track, what an adventure!

While being on the road, we have had many encounters with friendly and helpful people being interested in our travels. We want to thank you for your help, providing us shelter and fuel (i.e. delicious food), giving us ideas on where to go and what to see and the opportunity to meet “real kiwi characters”. Especially we want to express our gratefulness to Steffi and Bruce in Wanaka for helping us out in Winter times with a place to stay, Sue and John in Christchurch for giving us the keys to a university cottage in Arthurs Pass; Peter in Motueka, a likeminded cyclist on Takaka Hill; the McWilliams Family in Tauranga for the surprise invitation; Nina in Taipa for a wonderful 50th Birthday party and last but definitely not least Sara and Eugene in Auckland for being our “travel family”.


Apart from cycling and Wwoofing we explored the country by foot and with kayaks, climbed mountains and walked many tracks. We melted snow for drinking water, washed our salty skins in crystal rivers and soaked tiered muscles in hot thermal pools. We fed our souls with stunning views, waking up with bird songs at the crack of dawn, got covered in cobwebs all over, bugs and spiders were our friends, except sandflies, though!   For being Europeans we’d say, we spent a year in nature.

Blessings on this land!

Thomas & Katja