Splendid Isolation – 19

Two Teddy Bears on a big blue flower pot on a gate post. Watercolour sketch
Two Teddy Bears on a big blue flower pot on a gate post. Watercolour sketch
Did you just say something?

This pair of Teddies sit in a ceramic urn on a gate post, part of the Bear Hunt that is everywhere, hardly a house without a bear somewhere.

The air suddenly became colder last night and we awoke to a bright, fresh morning with the first snow on the hilltops. From ‘The Bird’s Nest’ we look out across the flat Takaka plain towards the Anatoki Range which provides a constant source of changing views as the light catches the deep hillside gullies during the day, cloud hangs over the peaks and rises from the valleys in the evenings.

Paines Ford

I walked to Paines Ford where an old quarry tramway track winds along beside the Takaka River, the cool water below and towering cliffs above, usually busy with sweaty climbers. The area is one of the most popular climbing locations in South Island. By the entrance is ‘Hang Dog’ campsite, especially for climbers. The routes have distinctly unappealing titles for this non-climber. Here is a selection:

  • Rat Trap
  • Carnage Wall
  • Slave Wall
  • Wall of Thugs
  • Rhinoceros Wall
  • Little Lost Wall
  • 1080 Gully (1080 is a controversial poison used to reduce invasive mammal populations)

Today the rocks were deserted.

The path goes through dark bush then emerges into sunlit pasture before re-entering bush and shaded riverside woodland. Water sculpted rocks surround the swimming holes. Fantails pirouette, Kereru, a kind of super sized pigeon with iridescent plumage, swerve alarmingly close overhead and Tui call from somewhere above. A boardwalk crosses an area of oxbow wetland before the path skirts wide pastureland, the Anatoki range providing a constant backdrop of blue ridges and forested gullies.

Eventually the path peters out in rough grassland and I retrace my steps. I pass only one other person, a man being taken for a walk by his enthusiastic dog.

I filled the last page in my sketchbook today. I do have some loose sheets of paper but they won’t last long. Hopefully, New Zealand will be able to reduce its lockdown to level 3 soon and perhaps online supplies may become available again.


      1. Ashley

        Hah! Only now I realise that I can’t spell! Beartter and beartter! Said out loud, there’s something of my accent in there too!

Leave a Reply