Thursday, January 07, 2016

Looping the South - a whirlwind tour

With the silly season approaching and pressure to use up some of my annual leave, I had to hatch a plan. I liked the sound of going to D'Urville Island - a romantic sounding name for what struck me as a wild windswept location by the perilous French Pass.
When I went to make my booking just a few days before Christmas, lo and behold there was no space on the ferry for days. This led to quite a different route...

After spending Christmas Day with family Wellington, I chilled out for most of Boxing Day before flying down to Christchurch in the evening. The city centre remains an earthquake-struck ghost town with cranes promising new life. The following morning I was up early to catch the 'Atomic Shuttle' to Lake Tekapo. That afternoon I was out horse trekking - a wonderful way to experience the beauty of the Mackenzie Country. Pleased to say that I had no fear of falling off - in fact I would've galloped into the sunset... that night I soaked in the to pools then later enjoyed the stillness of the lakeside, the full moon (& pretty starry sky) - YHA is in a spectacular location!

Up early again the next day to head to Aoraki/Mt Cook. Clear clear skies and bright sunshine created crisp lines in the mountainous landscapes. A bush walk provided shelter from the intense rays, which prevented me from embarking on another more open trail under the midday sun. Instead I struck a last minute deal with the helicopter company and had an amazing flight around Mount Cook and up to the Tasman Glacier, where numerous photos were taken with 3 friendly Chinese suitors and the pilot. Fascinating to read about those early climbers and all the heavy gear... although not so high, it's a challenging mountain which I am happy to appreciate from afar - even climbing walls make me feel rather weak :)

So after all the excitement I travelled back to Christchurch late at night then took the Tranzalpine train through Arthur's Pass the next day. More clear skies and fantastic mountain scenery...

(an amazing train trip - but due to excess sunshine, my photos didn't quite make the grade!)

From there I travelled from Greymouth to Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks) and on to Nelson.

With a bit of packing and shopping the next morning I set off with friends on another scenic journey to the Marlborough Sounds - taking the windy gravel road to the French Pass.
A water taxi from the D'Urville Island Wilderness Resort took us to a new form of paradise - with our own camping area at the end of the beach. Coffee, cold beer, freshly caught fish, and music were never far away. New Year's eve party included bbq, bubbly, fireworks, & DJ. My $35 tent provided shelter and a chill out zone to finish my book the next day!

(Photos by Lisa super-Noble)

The rain appeared on the last day when we headed back to Nelson - got a slice of the jazz festival at Mac's brewery the flowing day. In search of more sunshine and stunning scenery I took off to Kaikoura, where I walked around the peninsula, then relaxed in a hot tub. The next day I went for a bike ride, and went kayaking in the evening - joined by seals, penguins, dolphins... and an amazing sunset!!!
(No photos - flat battery & my charger died!)

Another day in paradise - travelled to Picton & then took a boat around the Queen Charlotte Sounds, exploring & dreaming of my next trip... that evening on the ferry, there were clear views across to the North Island and back towards the Kaikoura ranges - it was a smooth crossing back to Wellington, & a taxi ride home courtesy of my neighbors :)

A whirlwind tour...

Friday, January 09, 2015

2014 trails & treasures

Thursday, January 08, 2015

2014 Revisited

It’s been adventurous and exotic, fast & furious, creative and crafty, gradual and relentless…
At the end of 2013 the time came to leave Timor-Leste after more than a year, so I braved the stage choosing song over speech with “Pokarekare Ana & Hau Hakerek Surat Ida” accompanied by a lone guitar and receptive workmates. During 2014 the twin anthem became a regular item - sung together with Timorese friends at the Southern Cross, at a picnic in the Botanical Gardens, and at a Timor-Leste embassy reception, and even in the streets of Palmerston North!

Christmas 2013 was spent visiting the majestic mountains of Nepal & chaotic alleyways of Kathmandu - trekking gadget-free I marveled at the possibility of wifi at 3000+m. Diving into adventure for the New Year 2014 in Raja Ampat, Western Papua, in the heart of the coral triangle. Volunteering to go diving every day for a conservation project, I enjoyed vibrant marine scenes in a remote, tranquil environment with magical sunsets and movies by starlight. Next came massages, manicures and much relaxation in Bali…

Arriving back in New Zealand I had to look for a way to survive i.e. find a job or alternative way of staying afloat before too long. As a continuation of my holiday I focussed on survival at sea and in the bush.
Having just completed a relaxing 'cruising' course, I volunteered to crew. A $25 Naked Bus took me to Auckland and about an hour later I was at the helm of Montego Bay III, sailing out of Auckland harbor all the way to Wellington with 3 strange men. Fortunately the boys knew how to sail with and against 60 knot gusts. After a wild night from Cape Palliser I was relieved to be munching on bacon and toast in the sheltered Port Nic marina. During the year I continued racing with the crew of grand Illusions - with wild antics and strategic yet risky behavior, we crossed the line to the top of our division!
In an effort to become self-sufficient and develop the ability to survive in the great outdoors, I found myself blazing trails in the bush and making a cosy overnight shelter in the Rimutaka Forest Park in accordance with NZ Mountain Safety Council spec!

Dreams of busking for a living, or simply for fun, became a quirky reality as I frequented the Wellington Community Choir and became involved in the opening performance for the NZ International Arts Festival. What a buzz singing at the ‘Big Bang’ along with Kora, Strike, 200+ drumming school kids and an epic choir.
Feeling inspired I then borrowed a tent and headed to the Womad Festival in New Plymouth -  so many amazing performances... music continued as I became a Balkanistas groupie at Meow, & followed So Samba and others around town.
The choir had a number of unforgettable performances -  in particular the Labour Day concert at the Regency Theatre in Palmerston North! Singing at the NZ music industry awards in a mock gospel choir - you had to be there but probably just as well that you weren't!!! Check out the final act (at 2hrs 38mins approx) 

Special music moments included Dave Dobbyn singing at a memorial at Old St Paul's, and performing This Love’ with the Orpheus choir - a tribute to the Pike River 29, the mining victims -

Efforts to coordinate mind and body were extended through dancing tango - amazing to finally be upgraded from ‘eternal beginner learning to walk’ to ‘might advance and one day dance!’ - an improvement on my flashmob days in Timor -
I also branched out and tried Scottish dancing but only lasted a day - efforts to master steps were dreadfully serious! 

On a more serious note, I was busy getting careers counseling, rewriting my CV, and searching for jobs around the globe. Our of duty to the academic world and the possibility of a free meal, I delivered seminars at Victoria University and Otago University based on my tourism training project in Timor-Leste. I reviewed articles here and there and dabbled in writing between job applications. I was accepted to speak at a tourism conference in Greece after scribbling a quick abstract - when it dawned on me that I'd need to actually write a paper and even pay to attend my own presentation, my bank balance and mind froze, as did my feet. 

The job search took time - it was arduous yet interesting, as I researched several jobs, organizations, countries etc. in the process. After applying for a tourism-related job here in NZ at the Department of Conservation in March, I survived 3 panel interviews and finally started in June - very exciting!! No excuse now - got to do all the Great Walks - :)
Added bonus being at DOC has been the opportunity to continue learning te reo Maori, sing waiata, learn flax weaving, and stay at the Maketu Marae in Kawhia.

It's been a busy year but I've found time to hang out with friends and family - people from all continents and all decades, potluck dinners and sing-alongs, walks and talks, and side trips up the coast. Also been around for big birthdays - my Mum's 91st and my aunt's 93rd as we'll as friends' 50th, 100th, 150th celebration!! 

The year ended with a bang, a cousin's wedding, Christmas with a friend's family in the Bay of Islands, exploring historic and cultural heritage along the way, and then heading as far north as I could go - to Cape Reinga. The last day of the year I began kayaking down the Whanganui River - a wonderful place to begin the New Year!
Happy 2015 - Time for more fun!!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Timor Loros'ae - rising sun from Cristo Rei

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 revisted

Follow my journey through 2012 with a few images
2012 revisited

from Hau Moana to Atauro - 2012 revisited

From research to publication, from salsa to tango, sailing to snorkeling, listening to singing… From linguistics to language policies – please enjoy whatever gets lost in translation

After a family-Xmas in Wellington, 2012 started in the company of friends, delicious food & a crisp wine in Haumoana, where the vistas extended from Cape Kidnappers to the lights of Napier, and Picton & the magical Sounds – thanks to Kathryn, Brett & Max; Lisa & Zao. The beginning almost felt like a dream until the thudding reality and increasing urgency struck as the inevitable deadline, marking the completion of my Masters thesis, darkened the horizon.  To enhance my heightened nerves, the distraction caused by the reappearance of an undesirable criminal who’d passed herself off as my mother’s grand-daughter way back when, added a splash of drama and numerous chats with police on untangling privacy laws & dropping trespass orders. Looking back, those first couple of months of 2012 required a degree of perseverance and a level of discipline unbeknown to me. I edited and re-edited to the point where I could no longer make head, let alone tail, of whatever it was that I was hoping to paraphrase. Thanks again to my draft-scanning team (Sally, Heather, Rebecca & Dagmar). Fortunately Stephanie’s last-minute visit was so animated that it prevented me from even trying to rewrite it all for the nth time. Once handed in (deformatting & reformatting with Lina’s technical assistance), it was time to catch up on life – salsa classes, learning to sail, celebrating my cousin Kate’s wedding, and 90+/- birthdays with my mother and my aunt. Thanks to all the encouragement throughout my studies, I got there in the end! Being awarded a Master of Tourism Management with First Class Honours has certainly given me the freedom to reach out to new horizons. And yes, after staying firmly grounded for such an extended period, over two years in fact, my mind, body and soul have been impatiently ready and waiting to venture out. Spending some downtime ‘at home’, catching up on walks and talks, and continuing to do visitor studies at Te Papa, allowed me the space to unwind and reconnect with the world. In my dreams the romantic notion of the Silk Road initially grabbed my attention as a potential starting place. I even caught a glimpse of myself high up in the mountains speaking Tajik and eating plov.
My destiny, however, was to be at sea level and below in the South Pacific – a region so close and yet unknown to me. On arrival, in July, I was thrown into an almost frenetic and rather surreal scene, unexpectedly attending the Tongan Crown Prince’s wedding only hours after landing (a touch of traditional attire allowed me into the church!), then spotting majestic humpback whales from the shore later in the day. From the start, I had to learn to ‘kai lahi’ (eat big) & politely took full advantage of generous buffet dinners – the evidence remains with a few extra kilos which I appear to treasure to this day. Although Sundays in Tonga are strictly for church and family gatherings, i.e. prayer, singing, food and rest, I managed to cycle slowly around Tongatapu aimlessly; trying to look as if I was going somewhere, showing no hint of actively engaging in exercise, which is strictly forbidden on the Sabbath. Not sure whether it was all those Sundays spent listening to choirs, those sweet harmonies resonating from the many churches overflowing with families dressed up in traditional garb, or my sister Finola’s up-coming film ‘Quartet’ which influenced my decision to join the Dili international choristers later in the year. A short trip back to NZ in October gave to time to see friends and family, and repack. My new destination with VSA being Dili, Timor-Leste until April (& who knows…). With so much stimulation around me, the weeks have raced by – thanks Sue, Nat & many others for enhancing my social life, dance moves & vocal chords - slowly coming out of denial about being a chorister & singing proud! Hopefully the images attached speak for themselves & spark your interest. 

As always, it’s the people I meet along the way who make life special and experiences memorable. With fond and funny memories of friends near and far, and those who have departed early.
This year Xmas comes early with suckling pig is on the menu – oddly, the idea of DIY slaughtering & roasting was rejected early on. Spending a few days with friends from VSA relaxing at the beach in Baucau and wherever else the roads may lead. If the heavy rains don’t wipe out the roads, I’ll be tempted to head to coffee country or climb a mountain…  The New Year 2013 will find me gazing at corals and marine life on the reefs of Atauro Island. Of course, such adventures are mandatory for someone who dedicates life to travel & tourism

To all my friends and family dotted around the globe, Feliz Natal - happy festive season to all & all the best for 2013, whatever it may bring!!!
You’ll always find me somewhere in cyberspace (& yes, it’s curious what comes up when you google yourself!)
Skype: trishadwyer

For Christmas movies: check out “Quartet” 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Timor Leste

Whichever way I look, whatever I find here is linked to somewhere else with a new flavour and a special twist which makes it Diliesque and Timoresque.

What a whirl of going places and meeting a really diverse range of people during my first 3 weeks in Timor Leste. Chatting with neighbourhood kids, fishermen, students, and taxi drivers makes learning Tetun fun, and when in doubt Portuguese words help the guesswork! At a tourism training meeting today, powerpoint presentations with a mix of Portuguese, Tetun, Bahasa, and English emphasized the challenges of which official language to use (or not).
Bbq fish & beer at the local beach is a great place late afternoon. Yesterday I even saw a humpback whale from the shore. Whilst Dili has a strong local flavour, there's an extensive international community including Cuban doctors, aspiring Portuguese tango dancers, and the last of the UN workers from around the globe winding down operations. The "Kiwi Stone" event marked the departure of the NZ army, and most of the police have been packing up. Meanwhile the VSA volunteer presence has grown to 10 (

Last weekend I was lucky to join a road trip to the eastern most part of Timor Leste where we spent a few nights sleeping out under the stars by the island of Jaco (a marine reserve with amazing snorkelling). And it's just the beginning of my journey in Timor Leste...

Sunday, August 05, 2012

One Sunday in Tonga

Any Sunday in Tonga is a day for church, family, food and sleep. Saturdays, therefore, are busy, shopping at markets, doing domestic chores, & maybe a drink before midnight. The clock strikes 12 and the Sabbath begins. The mornings are early for those going off to mass at 5am, most lie in and appear dressed in Sunday best strolling with the family, in the back of a ute or Japanese 4-wheel drive around 10 – but yes, someone has to get the fire burning and prepare the ‘umu’ - underground oven – lots of manioc, taro, yams, pork or fish done in coconut wrapped in taro leaves... so yes I’ve been to church at least twice and since heard numerous choirs and photographed buildings of multiple denominations, not only the Wesleyan church whose missionaries arrived almost 200 years ago but several others including the Church of the Latter Day Saints, Seventh Day Adventist, Salvation Army, and Jehovah Witness, as well as the Catholic Church.
Now I was advised never to show up at the office on a Sunday (not even to check facebook...) or even to do exercise!!! I had a coffee on the verandah and guiltily sorted through some photos on my laptop... on Sundays almost everywhere, with the exception of the bakery dishing up hot bread, is closed. In town cafes are shut and hotel restaurants may close even when there are guests. One week I hopped on a boat to a nearby island for raw fish & a beer. Anyway, this morning I decided to go out and explore Tongatapu by bicycle (equipped with bread, water, swimsuit and sunblock). Setting off around 10 I managed to catch not only the church-goers, but all the wonderful choirs along the way. After a quick stop at the bakery I headed out of town past the hospital and the King’s country palace towards the east side of the island. Following my map with so few roads marked, because really there aren’t many, I wound around the lagoon till I reached ‘Kuki’s’ landing place (thinking the neighbours could rebrand as Kuki Islands). Not overwhelming as an attraction but a pleasant view and fits into Anne Salmond’s Trial of the Cannibal Dog – Captain Cook in the South Seas (a book I’ve been trying to read for years!). Met a group from Japan who were astounded by my cycling effort... I continued on, stopping to explore side lanes along the lagoon where dug-out canoes with outriggers set the scene. No fishing today though! Riding along I nodded as I passed people in their houses or on the road – and offered a ‘malo e leilei’ or a quick ‘malei’ to all – ‘Io’ being the usual response along with ‘bye’.
After quite some time riding I made it to the key attraction Ha’amonga ‘a Maui, a trilithon (not a triathlon as mentioned on some websites!) dating back to AD1200 explained through legends and a number of theories. However, as the interpretation panel didn’t quite do it for me, I was left with curiosity and in need of a marvellous storyteller to spin a yarn. From there I followed a nature trail opening to a coral stone beach. The pedalling continued as I rode down a not so well sealed road, potholes and coconut palms and not a car or person in sight for what seemed like miles. Eventually I found myself at the Stalactite Cave. Paying 5 paanga to turn the generator on I ventured in, ducking through the opening into what appeared to be a large cavern. The power appeared to also be taking a day of rest so I pulled out my flashlight (very well prepared thanks to Heather J) and clung onto the ropes there to save me from sliding off the edge away in neverneverland. Being alone in a dark dripping cave with a bat flapping around was not exactly magical but definitely made me think of all those horror movies I’ve watched as I sensed my batteries might fade... so I marched quickly back along the slippery trail and found a guy to sort out the light bulbs (much better!!!). I re-entered the cave with a completely different impression as I retraced my steps now newly illuminated (but not too much). At the end of the trail was a delicious pool – feeling hot and sweaty after all the cycling, my swimsuit appeared and into the water I slid. The echo of the ripples resonated and cheekily led me to new openings in the underground waterway. All of a sudden I wondered not only what might be around the corner but what form of life could survive in such waters... my shoes were back on and out to enjoy the beach at low tide. Colourful graves framed the view of a few kids playing in pools after lunch. Cycling back into town the legs were weary and as I wondered how much further, I noticed that the signs to where I’d been could only be seen if driving out of town. Although the open door of the golf club suggested a cold drink, only distant voices and yesterday’s beer and peanuts were present. Back to the bakery for some cake and a 7-up for a sugar hit which I enjoyed as I sat by the wharf in town just a block away from home. Dinner on the verandah with a cold beer, listening to the evening rain. Maybe next week I’ll settle for church, a feast & a long sleep!
So far it’s fair to say that life here presents itself with an eclectic mix of fairy  First, the crown prince’s wedding to a not too distant cousin arriving to the sounds of a brass band in a limo covered in plastic daisies onto a tapacloth driveway lined with neatly braided schoolgirls. The abundant wedding feast cooked by local families & restaurants even catered for gatecrashers (No I wasn’t there!). The following week, a new quest was on the horizon as talented girls vying for the Miss Heilala crown took to the streets. Week 3, young men with Viking hats flexing muscles & cheeky grins took over to find Mr Tonga 2012. Rumour has it that super yachts are now housing not only the richest Mexican on earth but also Mr Google and James Bond - Sean Connery was named but really not quite sure how Mr Google would survive without the fibre optic cable – a satellite link maybe?

Images of Tonga so far

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Malo e leilei

Malo e leilei

Have had a busy week in Tonga - starting with royal wedding & sighting humpback whales on day 1. Dressed up in traditional dress for church on Sunday with King & Queen, newly wed crown prince & fantastic choir. The rest of the week has included a display of bodybuilders competing to be Mr Tonga & a Miss Heilala festival which had all generations out till midnight at a street party - including preachers & Christian hiphoppers, Japanese exchange students, & charming old men playing ukeleles & WISE women (women in sustainable enterprises) sizzling sausages. Checked out a Tongan coffee plantation, a nearby island, & more amazing voices from an array churches singing anything from Harlem gospel to a Chinese-Tongan compilation. Corned beef & other imports flood the supermarkets - still lots of coconuts, taro & fish... 'ota ika' (a delicious raw fish dish) being my favourite so far. 
Toki sio

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Breaking all barriers

Human beings are members of a whole, 
In creation of one essence and soul. 
If one member is afflicted with pain, 
Other members uneasy will remain. 
If you've no sympathy for human pain, 
The name of human you cannot retain! 
Saadi Shirazi - Saʿdī ( سعدی‎)
*بنى آدم اعضای یک پیکرند * که در آفرینش ز یک گوهرند* * چو عضوى به درد آورد روزگار* *دگر عضوها را نماند قرار* *تو کز محنت دیگران بی غمی* نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی*

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa in the Wind

Thursday, December 15, 2011

52 weeks gone by

Happy Xmas again!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Que chevere mamita!!!

Oi!!! Bom dia!!! Tudo bem???

Hola!!! Buenos dias che!!!

Ni hao!!! Ni hao ma???

Suseeday!!! Souk sabaii???

Xin chao!!!