Tuesday 26 March 2013


That's gold as in nuggets - this is Nugget Point, and those rocks look like a miner's dream, apparently. Myself, I don't need to see them as anything else to appreciate their beauty, especially in the low light of a fine evening in the Catlins, after a day pootling around at half-speed, discovering the tucked-away treats here.

One of them is actually man-made, surprisingly: the Lost Gypsy Caravan where Blair Somerville spends his days tinkering with rejects and recyclables to make "gizmos and gadgets" for the endless simple amusement of passing travellers attracted by his startlingly realistic mannequin out on the road. With a cup of the best lemon/honey/ginger tea I've ever tasted in my hand, I poked through his old house truck full of jokey games and toys, and then followed his garden trail of hand-operated machines: a paua shell water-wheel that makes natural music, a corrugated iron whale that breeches and dives, an old-fashioned hairdresser's chair that, when you sit in it, plays kakapo noises through the dryer hood. Best of all was a wooden-keyed organ with each note played by a different machine - radio, gong, electric toothbrush - that combines Blair's favourite elements: art, science and fun.

There were waterfalls today, bush walks, museums, more yellow-eyed penguins rock-hopping over a beach and scrambling in an endearingly ungainly manner up into the bush to nest overnight, and this nearly 3 metre bull sea lion napping on the beach, so still I didn't notice him at first. I'm very glad I didn't think he was a log, and sit on him.

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