chilling feet

chilling feet

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Motupōhue - "The Bluff"

New Zealand is a relatively newly settled area.  Around 1,000 years ago the Maori came to the islands and were the only inhabitants for quite some time until around the mid 1800's when the islands were modernized (this is not a detailed history lesson but is being relayed from memory based off a documentary we watched before coming here).  Unlike many other places, the Maori influence is not only a part of the NZ past, but it is also still alive and well as part of current NZ life.  I find myself trying to understand what our nation's identity would be like if Native Americans were more than just a history lesson.  While it is true that we have towns and even states named after words that most of us no longer understand or can even say properly, in NZ it goes way beyond this sort of courteous nod to the past.

To help ourselves and our readers to understand more about the NZ culture we will be adding certain "kiwi" (New Zealand) and Maori phrases from time to time to help us all learn.  We will start off simple with both.  Our kiwi for this week are both phrases that we hear or see a lot.  Most of you have heard this and it will seem silly but when speaking of something small or little our kiwi friends use the word "wee."  "Are you taking a wee nap?"  Our other phrase for this week comes from driving.  Instead of stop signs, at least as far as I have seen, they use exclusively a sign that says "Give Way."  It is in the shape of a yield sign and people use it the same way.  If someone else is already coming through the roundabout or up your lane, you simply give way and then go when they are past.  A simple start to kiwi.

For our first Maori word we will share about our Saturday adventure.  We shot off twenty minutes down the road to Motupōhue, or the Bluff.  The Bluff is the Southern most point of New Zealand except for Stewart Island (an adventure for another day), making it as far South as one can go in the country without taking a ferry down to the last remaining island.  In the first picture for today's post, Sarah can be seen standing at a look off point right where folks can park and then head off onto the treks that are footsteps away.  Look as far past Sarah and into the South as you can possibly stare and all you will see is more ocean.  This part of the coast is well known for having whales this time of year but unfortunately we did not see any during our trek.  As with most areas where whales were abundant before, this area was whaled so effectively that also unfortunately most of them are now gone.
 Just to the right of the first picture of Sarah is a famous marker which indicates how many kilometers it is in various directions to interesting locations.  Equator, New York, Dog Island, Tokyo, and of course where Sarah is pointing - The South Pole (for those of you who do not know already, Antarctica and ultimately the South Pole, is the location of our next planned "big" adventure once we are done with our year in NZ).  There stands my beautiful and adventurous wife marking out the next next voyage - can you see her determination and firm resolve?  Back to NZ, it was quite exciting for us to find this marker at the start to our first hike.  It felt a little more than serendipitous for our next adventure to be so clearly marked right before us at, what I saw as our first real outing in our current adventure.  Of course we have already been out learning, creating a bank account, driving around town and seeing sights, eating wonderful food, etc - however, in a country like NZ, you have to go out into nature to truly experience anything about the kiwi culture.  So for me, this was our first real NZ experience.  

The hike - let us show you in pictures.  Overall it took us around under four hours and there was still a few other treks that we did not do - perhaps next time!  A good portion of our trek was amazingly challenging and it was a good first hike for us.  Please take a moment to see the photos below and enjoy the beautiful views that we enjoyed.
(It looks like I'm dancing but this was just my pose to show off my new Salomon Quest boots in use)
(Just one of the many look offs that were along the trek - wow!)
(There were helpful signs along the way to teach us about the area, history, and more)
(You can see the trail that we are following weaving its way up behind me - hard to see how much the trail elevates)
(Sarah peering off into the ocean - is she looking for whales or Antarctica?)
(I cannot imagine who came out and put this trek together for us to enjoy)
(Suddenly we went from a hillside to being under a canopy of trees in a tunnel of sorts - much of the trek was covered with this helpful boardwalk to make it more accessible) 
(One of the amazing views during the hike) 
(Somehow I had not heard that people call these pictures "selfies" - well I am not sure we should call them that but whatever.  I love having a wife that enjoys taking a long arduous hike up a mountain/hill!)
(Once at the top we took another shot - we stopped to enjoy some deliciously hot tea that we brought in a thermos)
(There are no words needed to describe these shots really) 
(Sarah loves beaches and just spending time sitting on them - even when they are rock instead of sand)
(Right after this celebratory shot the surf broke higher and made Sarah do the "oh my gosh I just got hit by super cold water out of the southern ocean" dance and it was super hilarious)