Thursday, May 5, 2011
New Zealand Travelogue
I'm hoping that you've missed me, but in any case, I have been visiting with New Zealand quilters since April 16. My first stop was in Queenstown for the Remarkable Symposium, an annually traveling event hosted by regional quilters for visiting quilters around New Zealand and Australia.
This is my third trip to Queenstown and I feel so lucky to be invited again! The symposium is called after the mountains that surround the area, the aptly named "The Remarkables". Although it was spring when I left home, it was autumn in New Zealand. The flight into Queenstown was an amazing blaze of color with the mix of bright gold and red deciduous trees against the dark evergreens.
In Queenstown you are always wrapped by mountains and water... so beautiful, but nearly impossible to capture on camera. We arrived in late morning and dared not take a nap, lest jet lag get the best of us. So I headed for the park that I had enjoyed so much before. This was my first autumn exploration, but all my favorites were still there... the giant monkey puzzle trees, the pond, the bowls ground and the roses. It was school holiday in New Zealand, too, so lots of families and students were romping and enjoying their autumn vacations.
One morning we awoke to snow on the mountains in the distance. Thank goodness I packed gloves and ear muffs. You could smell wood fires burning on the way to the classroom in the morning and back home in the evening.
I conducted three workshops at the symposium and each one produced some wonderful work! Below you can see examples from the Kaleidoscope class, the Shape Shifting class and the Pattern Play class.
Then on Easter morning I began a two day road trip, with my adventurous companion, Anne, through the Southern Alps to Takaka in Golden Bay. It was a wet trip and the clouds sifted through the jungle of dense dark foliage on the steep rocky walls around us. I kept thinking of the haunting opening of Aguire, Wrath of God, Warner Herzog's memorable movie about conquistadors in the Amazon jungle. So that sound track was my companion, too.
My first peek down the other side of the mountain into Golden Bay was obstructed by clouds, too, but it was still an inspiring sight!
Golden bay is a beautiful, pristine and idyllically isolated spot on the northern coast of New Zealand's south island. There is only one road in and out and it's extremely steep and convoluted. Golden Bay sits on the Bay of Tasman, surrounded by water, mountains and green fields and my hosts had a fabulous view of it all! Later that day, the clouds began to lift for a beautiful sunset.
The plush green pastures were sprinkled with grazing cows and sheep. Even in town, there was always some livestock within a block or two. It amazed me that the animals stay outdoors all the time, year round, unlike here where they go into the barn at night. So logical!
Things grow like mad here, too! I visited a student's lovely garden who must have had 20 varieties of fuchsia, plus apples, avocados, oranges, hydrangeas and more!!
What wasn't green in Golden Bay was rocky, VERY rocky. Tramping (hiking) and climbing is a favorite pastime. It was a bit damp and cold, but we went on a little tramping adventure one morning between the rocks, boulder and exotic vegetation. This narrow passage made me feel like Indiana Jones.
Even though I would have loved a longer visit, it was time to move on. Back over "the hill" to the Nelson airport and a flight to Christchurch. It was a short but dramatic trip over the snow dusted mountains.
Then a two hour drive with my new hostess to her quaint little store, Obsession 2 Quilt, in Temuka. Temuka is noted for their pottery, their carrots and bagpipes... home of the New Zealand Bagpiping Champions. Love it! There were some nice old homes and buildings there, too.
The class in Temuka was small, but very talented. They inspired me with their hard work and unique vision.
It was difficult to believe three weeks had passed and it was time to head back home. My flight was late in the day, so my kind hostess took me to see the botanical gardens in Christchurch. The city is still recovering from a series of devastating earthquakes that hit hardest in the lovely old part of the city, but caused damage for miles around. Church steeples lay crashed on the ground and piles of brick and stone exposed the innards of buildings. But scaffolding and protective fences were evidence of rebuilding and renewal.
The large park that held the greenhouses and gardens was a quiet, restful and rainy refuge in the middle of the shaken city.
It was dark when I boarded the plane for Auckland, where I transferred for the twelve hour flight to LA. In LA there was a two hour journey through customs and a change of terminals before the four hour flight to Chicago. I arrived at O'Hare at midnight and I had been gone so long I felt like a visitor, instead of a native... a newly confirmed citizen of New Zealand. So 32 hours after leaving my hotel room in Temuka, Greg picked me up with Korean "takeout" and a smile! After the hours drive home, I ate dinner at 1 am and hit the sack around 2. When I woke up it was spring again!
Home again, home again, jiggity jog! But home again as a big fan of New Zealand and it's gracious and resourceful quilters!