MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 3 – Light


Last light

Snapped after dinner outside Schnapps…almost forgot…

The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…


Volunteer | The Daily Post


My new happy place

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

Source: Volunteer | The Daily Post

Never volunteer. That’s like one the the greatest military truisms – ever. And one of the wrongest. Nothing risked, nothing gained. My experience always was that something good generally came from volunteering – being volunteered, perhaps not so much…

I’m starting on a new volunteer adventure. The Fire Service was never something I really considered before…I travelled so much in my Army, then Air Force lives that I would have been unlikely to have been able to meet the training commitments but really, my head wasn’t really in that space. Most of my post-infantry career was in TTI roles (Top Two Inch) , thinking jobs, often working on my own, solo…not really the team environment from way back then.


Way back then…

My lifestyle changes over the past year have changed my ‘headspace’…an Outdoor First Aid course brought back all those Band 4 Medical memories and encouraged me onto the Pre Hospital Emergency Care course in September and that team working environment showed just how much I missed team work. On top of that, I needed some place to keep up those PHEC skills..

A friend joined another local brigade and I followed her progress…mid-winter, the local brigade delivered a recruiting pitch to our Business Association meeting and, although I wasn’t ready then, that sowed a seed that took root post-PHEC. I went down one training night and, in half an hour,  I was helping a firefighter into a hazsubs ‘carrot suit’…

Training is officially two hours every Wednesday night but that’s the minimum…National Park 281 is only a small brigade but most members work odd hours and days so there are usually ad hoc training sessions throughout the week. For recruits like me, there is also a lot of study and training – just getting on top of the language is a mission – to be signed off before the week-long recruit firefighter course at the National Training Centre in Rotorua…with a little luck and a few more people falling off the wait-list I may get on the January course…

So volunteering…it’s a bit more than a couple of hours a week and a bit of study…lifestyles need to change: a pager can go off anytime so little things like ‘cap, shirt, Bata Bullets, need to be more prescribed and practiced; parking the truck pointing up the driveway saves a few seconds…many of us live in Raurimu, a time-consuming 5km north of the station: we don’t have the critical mass or number of calls to justify standing watches…

Small team, good team…hard training, good training…repetitive training, even better…


If we were having coffee

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how great it has been having Mum and Dad come to visit for the last week…we even got some halfway decent weather…



Leaving on the Northern Explorer, heading south…


Louie found a new walking buddy


A quiet spot in the sun


Can’t keep some people out of the garden


Dad discovers the media centre remote…

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how great it has been having people to cook for the last week. Breakfast and lunch are pretty much self-help here but our dinner menu was pretty on to it:

Day One: Roast Baby Armadillo on a potato, kumara, parsnip mash. This is quick and easy. I only made half the recipe but added the full cup of milk to the bread which made it a bit gooey. I fixed this with a half cup of almond coconut meal (left over from almond coconut milk) which a. worked to soak up the extra milk and b. added an interesting flavour and texture twist to the meat loaf.

Day Two: South African Curry with brown rice. This can be made with meat or not but I had 500 grams of mice left over from the baby armadillo and, due to my currently congested fridge space, this was a good way of consuming it.

Day Three: Fruit Salad Curry with brown rice.

Day FourChicken and Potato Chowder. My plan was to have this with homemade bread but I got a bit careless and put into too much water. The result was a bread with a heart so hard it burst out of the when I tipped up the breadmaker bowl.

Day Five: Beets and Goat Feta on Black Rice. This was the first time I’ve made this with raw beets. These worked as well as if not better than the precooked one I snagged form the supermarket last time by accident.I did go over on the olive oil and had to up the honey and balsamic to compensate…it all worke don the day though..

Day Six: Curry Kumara Hash Browns with Salmon and a neat salad. These hash browns are really nice but I’ve never been able to find a decent side to go with them. In the past I have relied on a dodgy rocket salad but I’m not really a big rocket person. Last night I tried a bit of an experimental salad and sauce that worked really – both of them…more to follow on that soon…

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how impressed I was when the train arrived 15 minutes early on Friday…but then it was almost 15 minutes late this afternoon – life balances out but the lesson is to wait in the cafe with your coffee and the crispy fire until it actually pulls up…

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m humbled to have gained a seat on the National Park Community Board. Elections aren’t until October but the position wasn’t contested so it’s done and dusted. I’ve probably just signed myself for even more work but I’ve got some catching up to do getting into this community. I’ve lived up here since 2004 but it’s only been since I started to work in the Park that I’ve started to get involved…yes, I do miss the Defence travel sometimes but it doesn’t outweigh coming home each night…

If we were having coffee, I’d be telling you how excited I am to be getting into some new ventures in the Park…

Share Your World – 2016 Week 32

Here is the basic Share Your World format:

  • Answer three random questions each week.

  • Respond to a fourth item (I will randomly chose from this list)

  • Answer the bonus question which is always the same  “What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?”  Because we all need to be reminded that there are many things in our lives to be grateful about.


If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

Coconuts. They don’t grow here so it’s not like I can grow my own and they are still pretty pricey at the supermarket but with a guaranteed supply, I’d be making all my own coconut oil, flour, milk etc even more than I am now…of course, in a few months I’d be over it and want an endless supply of something else…

What is the worst thing you ate this last recently?


Tough question as I eat pretty well, if I do say so myself…I’ve been working to perfect a good (great would be awesome but I’ll settle for good) dairy-free latte. Non-dairy milks won’t ‘pull’ the same way as real milk…this is due to to a lack of protein so adding a half- teaspoon or so of protein powder lets coconut or almond milk froth up nicely using a mechanical frother. Last week, during the trial phase, I made an error in assuming the frother would also serve as a mixer for the teaspoon of protein powder in the bottom of the cup. It didn’t and my coffee was spoiled by a sand-like grit (it was pea protein not dairy) in the dregs  – normally the best bit where the final swirls of coffee and coconut combine…

Are you are comfortable doing nothing? For long stretches of time?

Yes…years of practice…something called ‘hurry up and wait’…it’s easy to zen into a ‘park’ mode, still aware of what goes on but conserving effort and energy ’til whatever happens/arrives/departs/whatever…

List of Jobs You Think You Might Enjoy: Even if you aren’t thinking about a career change, it can be fun to think of other jobs you might enjoy.

Now that I’m back on the Mountain, I gaze longingly at the snow-covered slopes and wish I could ski or climb again…cold injuries are such a bitch and they never really go away…


These are my favourites…Ruapehu’s too over=populated…

I’d like to have my own cafe…paleo-themed but not pedantically so…I drive past Ferguson’s Cafe in Whakapapa Village every day and the lost potential rubs me so badly…


I’d love to fly but not for a living

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week, I’m grateful I finally took the plunge and applied for the next Pre-Hospital Emergency Care course. I’ve been avoiding getting back into this game for a while but the more I get drawn into the Park and the District, old flames rekindle. I enjoyed the debate during the Outdoor First Aid course last year and much as I’ve tried to steer away, I think now why not..? So a lot of study to get my head back in this…

I’m also grateful that I took the plunge to run for the National Park Community Board. Again, as a result of being drawn more and more into the District, I’m looking for ways to engage and contribute. Earlier this year I joined the Village Business Association and the Community Board seems like a logical next step…

Next week…I’m looking forward to my parent’s coming to visit for a week…the first time they’ve bee up here in quite some time…been a few changes to this place…DSCF9706.JPG

Also looking forward to some good outcomes from a tactical planning meeting with my lawyers on Monday…one way or another, the battle with the bank hasn’t got long to run…how it will go I don’t know but the new evidence we uncovered in the last week or so looks promising…


Look Up | The Daily Post

This week is all about taking a moment to check out what’s going on above you. For this week’s challenge, take a moment to look up. Whether it’s the fan above your head at work, your bedroom ceiling, or the night sky, what do you see? Is it familiar? Or does it show you a new perspective on your surroundings?

Source: Look Up | The Daily Post


Looking up

This dead tree towers over State Highway 4 as it snakes under the Makatote Viaduct between Horopito and National Park Village. I’ve driven this road hundreds of times and only noticed it when i was driving back from my physio appointment yesterday. I’m not sure if it’s the result of a lightning strike but it surely is a candidate for one now…



Looking across

The viaduct has been undergoing some serious maintenance the last year or so and the plastic shrouds are to prevent sprays and dust contaminating the environment around the viaduct.


Looking down!!!

Someone’s clearly had a party!! And dumped the rubbish at the lookout by the viaduct. Most of this is recyclable: bottles, cans, and pizza and beer cartons. That just goes to show how lazy some people are: there is no charge for dumping recycles at the transfer station. Some of the good lads from Downers were there tidying this mess up. A highlight of their day – not!


One of the problems we have up here is campers who can’t get their heads around the fact that when the bin’s full, the bin’s full and that doesn’t mean they can just stack the rest of their rubbish beside it. A rubbish bin does not denote a dumping site and this is why all the rubbish bins have been removed from places in the Park like Whakapapa Village: put one out and half an hour later it’ll be buried under a pyramid of rubbish bags.

DSCF0252 These apples were dumped at the side of the lookout car park. Sure, they will eventually break down but that still doesn’t making this blatant dumping OK…

As you drive around the Park, and you see dumping like this, take some pics and report it…even better, if you see someone doing this, take their pic and report them…

Solitude | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt: solitude.

Source: Solitude | The Daily Post

This morning, I had big plans to clean up, do vacuuming and other such boring stuff…the sun streaming in, though, was too much of a temptation and I went off on another wander…this time, a little closer to home, Tupapakurua Falls just up the road in National Park Village…

There is a good, albeit slightly out of date, description of the route on the Taupo Tramping Club site, and also a good summary in the latest version of the DOC Walks in and Around Tongariro National Park (page 24). The track is pretty well-marked and does not pose any great navigational challenges so longs as normal common sense is applied, especially on the leg down to the base of the Falls.

The track starts in National Park Village. Park where you like but you need to be looking at this in Carroll Street to get underway:


Cross the railway tracks – the BUSY railway tracks so take appropriate care – and follow the road round to the left…DSCF0012 …taking the first right down Fishers Road where…DSCF9968…after a couple of kilometres, you come to the start of the trail proper. Yes, you could just drive here but it’s a nice walk along the road and you wouldn’t want to drive only to find that the freedom campers have taken up all the parking:


A short way along the track there’s a sign:


This is a great way for walkers to contribute to the maintenance and ongoing development of tracks like this one: all you have to do is pick up a couple of buckets and carry them to the next bucket depot. Don’t stress: the depots are only a few hundred metres apart and the buckets aren’t too heavy.


Grab two and start walking…

Along the sides of the trail, you’ll occasionally see traps for rats and stoats. Unless you are part of the community trapping programme, leave them alone…


The track is well-marked and very easy to follow; the gradients are all quite gentle and after twenty minutes, I got to the Taranaki Lookout:DSCF9978

…with Mt Taranaki clearly visible on the coast about 120km away…DSCF9976-001

From the Taranaki Lookout to the Tupapakurua Falls lookout is about an hour of easy walking. The track is not quite so well-defined, marked or developed and there are a few roots and other potential hazards for the carelessly-placed foot. The climbs are a little less gentle but still doable for walkers with average health and fitness: just take care where you are placing your feet. This is original New Zealand rain forest that does not get a lot of sun through the canopy – the sort of environment over which Von Tempsky pursued Tītokowaru – smooth surfaces, wood and rock, can be slick and slippery: there is no cell coverage here and even satellite access can be dodgy at the bottoms of the canyons: if you are on your own you may have a long wait for assistance if you have a whoopsy.

DSCF9984 The lookout is a nice spot for the break…DSCF9980 …with good views of the Falls in the distance.DSCF9985

The Taupo Tramping Club notes recommend pushing a few minutes south-west of the lookout to the end of the ridge for a better view of the Falls and the valley. I really recommend doing this as the views are much better. Not mentioned in the notes is the more-recently developed track down to the base of the Falls. I almost gave this a miss as my destination for the day had been the Falls lookout but it was still morning, still sunny and I had come all this way…I’m glad I did as it was the highlight of my walk!!

The track down to the base of the Falls is marked with the standard blue poles and orange arrows. It is not nearly as well-marked as the track to the lookout and walkers really need to be able to see the next marker before stepping off: there are many animal and hunting trails here as well and it is so very easy to follow what you think is the trail and find yourself geographically-embarrassed with no clue as to how to get back onto the actual trail…

Having said that, I found myself at the base of the Falls after a descent of around 15-20 minutes. Wow!! I need a better camera with a decent wide-angle lens to capture scenery like this…

The sun only gets into the valley later in the afternoon and it was not at all warm down in the base of canyon, plus the Falls throw up a fine mist that further drops the temperature: definitely NOT the spot for lunch..(or a swim!!)! But very much worth the extra walk and really made my impulsive activity worth the undone housework…

The climb back up to the lookout was not as arduous as I thought it might be on the way down BUT you do have to take care that you are actually on the trail as I found a couple of times

I still wasn’t that hungry when I got back up to the Falls lookout so pushed on back to the Taranaki lookout. I still wasn’t that hungry but felt I should eat something since I had carried it all this way: lunch was my standard walking lunch of a bannofee smoothie – tastes a lot more bananary with fresh bananas – and a couple of Jen Rice’s chewy spicy apple cookies – I always carry more but, as advertised, two is enough for a quick meal on the go.

From the lookout back to Fisher’s Road was only about ten minutes. Walking back down the road, I was welcomed back by a spectacular view of Mt Ruapehu through the trees…


My total time for this walk was just under four hours: obviously I could trim this down quite a bit if I wanted but what would be the point. This is the first walk that I have done in this series where it was just me and the outdoors – solitude – and it was there to enjoy. The last two adventures that I have done, on Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, have been in open terrain and I was surprised just how comfortable I felt today returning to the close country of my roots…oddly, although was was the least strenuous of my three adventures to date, it is the only one that has left me with quite sore shoulders…really wish that I had that spa pump repaired now…