Saturday 17 December 2011

Down to the sea in slips

That was the title of a rather dull booklet, full of black and white photos and close-typed text, that passed across my desk in sixth form geography: all about erosion in NZ (but far more effective in teaching the power of the pun). I thought of it when I was over east earlier this year, driving to Wairoa to eat a pie and noticing all the streaks of bare soil on the cleared hills; and again last month when I was down in Taranaki in the back country going to Caniwi Lodge (no prizes for guessing the nationalities of the owners, sorry). There the green hills were scarred with white slips, and I regretted that they'd been cleared of bush for grazing, as even my townie eyes could tell that the grass was thin and the land not very suitable for pastoral use.

I stayed on my last night in Taranaki at Oakura Beach Holiday Park, to the south of New Plymouth: a classic beach-side Kiwi campsite, brought into the 21st century by an internet cabin, but still pleasingly simple, running along the beach underneath a cliff. That's where my cabin was, the one with the poltergeist, where I slept peacefully with the sound of the sea in my ears. It was also the very cabin that last night was swept away by a landslide down the cliff, pushing three of them ahead of it and understandably startling the people who were asleep inside. I was startled myself to see it on the news - and to think I'd been alarmed when the bedside lightbulb popped out!

Down in Fiordland where I was last week, though Davey Gunn did his best 100 years ago chucking lighted matches and grass seed left and right as he herded his cattle along the Hollyford Valley, the bush still stands virgin and ancient and beautiful. Yay.


the queen said...

I am sorry to hear your poltergeist drowned, but what of this Auckland news?

It is clever, but it would never fly in Saint Louis.

TravelSkite said...

It didn't fly here: a grey-haired Catholic Action man tore it down last night. The 'Poor Joseph' one a couple of years ago got graffitied several times before they gave up replacing it. Narrow-minded Christians - no news there.


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