Wednesday 18th March
We have been in New Zealand for 14 days tomorrow and I have been around for 73 years tomorrow too. Except that’s not quite true because tomorrow won’t have happened at home until the world has turned for another 11 hours.
We watch the Covid-19 news feeds for travel restrictions, airlines going broke and the latest reactions around the globe. In the UK people are panic-buying toilet paper and pasta. In Ireland, the elderly are getting priority shopping in supermarkets. In the US people are buying guns and ammo while in New Zealand people arriving from abroad are going into compulsory 14 day isolation but otherwise things seem pretty normal here, as far as we can see.
We don’t know when we will get home. We are not due to fly back for another month but won’t be too surprised if we are told to leave earlier while the airlines are still operational.
Meanwhile we are probably in one of the safest places with a relatively small population in a big country, fresh air and mostly very sensible, community minded people. There very few cases here so far.
We walk, read, sketch, enjoy the family, share some chores, go to the beaches, eat healthy food and try not to worry. These journal entries will record some of my thoughts and activities during this strange time.
Te Waikoropupū (Pupu) Springs
Close to Takaka a turn off the highway leads to Te Waikoropupū. The entrance has an interpretation structure in the shape of a Wharenui (Maori meeting House) enclosing a sensuous boulder of Pounamu (Greenstone) worn smooth by visitor’s hands. The stone and the springs are sacred and the waters may not be touched.
A boardwalk snakes through mānuka and kānuka, vine tendrils hanging around the path. Unfamiliar bird calls drift from the canopy and sunlight pierces the cool darkness in places. Fantails dart about. The path opens out at the springs where a viewing deck is cantilevered over the wide lagoon. Water wells up looking like a huge bath emptying in reverse, 14,000 litres per second flowing from underground. It is “close to optically pure water, with clearer water found only beneath Antarctica’s near-frozen Weddell Sea.” The clarity creates a magically brilliant blue in places, while in others bright green water plants colour the surface.
Autumn is just starting here. Trees are beginning to exchange their greens for yellows and the mornings and evenings are getting fresher. Some evenings the hills turn a deep luminous blue as the light fades.
Across the road from where we are staying a path crosses fields to a swimming hole on a tributary of the Takaka River. Limestone rocks hang over the river eroded by floodwaters into fantastic shapes. A stranded tree has wedged itself against the rocks. The sun warms the rocks but the clear water retains a numbing freshness.