14. Home Sweet Home, and Maori Rock Art

We are settling into our travelling life better and better. Our small caravan is set up how we like it, and we are very comfortable in it. It took a while, but we are finding ourselves slowing down and not racing to get all our daily tasks done the way we used to. Even though we are busy doing things, we have more spare time! Our working lives seem a bit crazy now – for me, while I loved my day-to-day work, there was a lot of reading or paperwork that needed to be done in evenings/weekends, and I really don’t miss that. When at work, we were in a habit of picking up food on our way home, so it’s really lovely to be doing so much more for ourselves – all our own preparation of meals and baking our own bread and biscuits. Sometimes we even wash our clothes by hand rather than wait for access to a washing machine! We are also sleeping more. It feels very healthy!

One of our adult children made these two jars of brownie mix for us as a Christmas present – loved this great idea which is so perfect for our travelling situation.
We found the watercress in a stream with fresh running water, so Kevin picked some for dinner! We are eating just cold food at present – too hot for cooked food!
We started off making white bread, but have changed to using half white, half brown flour. Sometimes we add in spices and fruit mix which we both love!
We have time to watch sunsets – this also feels very healthy. This heron watched the sun go down with us one evening just as we reached the high McKenzie Country!

We stay in NZMCA parks or popstops, or in DOC camps, or sometimes we freedom camp in places where it’s legally allowed. We meet with other people doing the same thing a lot, both from overseas and from NZ. We often pick up ideas and hints of what to do next from them. Sometimes we travel with the caravan, but sometimes we detach and leave it behind in a safe place to go along shingled or steep or windy roads.

Limestone banks and cliffs start lining the route somewhere between Geraldine and Fairlie.
Kevin walking along a DOC track, with me following, to see some Maori rock drawings not far from the Raincliff Bridge.
And here they are – funny, but we didn’t even notice the black painting until we saw it in this photo! Most Maori rock art is found in Canterbury or Otago and is painted using charcoal or iron oxide, either dry or mixed with fat.
It’s interesting to think about Maori living in NZ before Europeans arrived, living off the land and moving about the country to trade resources from region to region. Totally different life to the one we know today! A lot of forest was burned in the early days – on the West Coast, Kaikoura Peninsula, all around Peak Hill and the Rakaia River, Otago where we are headed – and we think it might have been in part to make catching moa easier as this was a prime food source until they became extinct; and also to make travel and navigation around the country easier as this was also necessary to survival. I wonder how it felt to be the first Maori arriving in a land so different to the warm Pacific Islands with vastly different climate and food sources, having no choice but to learn the new environment and adapt to it. People have always moved throughout history, but these times where there’s a sudden jump into a completely different environment makes me admire this group of people and what they achieved all the more. I remember reading Michael King’s Penguin History of New Zealand when it first came out – mental note to self to read it again!

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