Sunday, 25 September 2011

A week in Abel Tasman National Park

Just got back from a week's tramping in one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand. Got over 400 pictures and lots of impressions to share, but it'll take a while to sort them all out. Right now I'm in a backpackers in Motueka, where we landed to enjoy civilisation again before heading for the next trip. Unfortunately, I'm surrounded by Germans (seven guests, one non-German, guess who) and for some reason they all speak German, so I've no clue what's going on. It's for the best, though, at least I don't feel bad for plugging my headphones in and focusing on the screen. But not till after dinner. Laters.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

I pig hunter

My New Zealand "been there done that" list is steadily growing. The newest addition is pig hunting. Successful pig hunting. Quite different from piloting a stunt plane, but equally rewarding. I don't enjoy killing animals, but this experience was definitely worthwhile.

Don't read this post if you're vegetarian. Don't read it unless you're ok with a bit of blood and gore.

New Zealanders seem to like animals a lot. They love their possum hunting, pig hunting, deer hunting, fishing... Mike once told us: "do you see that beautiful stag over there? We're gonna shoot it next week, the meat is delicious".

Pest control hunting
Hunting isn't just a hobby, though, it's also necessary for keeping the pest population down. Most hunted animals aren't native of New Zealand and can cause damage to crops, cattle/sheep business, etc. Possums, for instance, have been imported from Australia, where they're rare and protected, and thrive on NZ soil.). Wild pigs come from Europe and are a real nightmare for farmers. A grown boar can apparently pass through an electric fence powered with ten thousand volts and once it gets inside a paddock, it goes on a lamb-eating spree.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

At Mike's

Lamb season. The noise they make!
It's been a while since my last post, reason being I had such a good time and no time for blogging at all. Leaving Blenheim brought me back to life, I never realized how dull the place is until I was away from it. Amber, a fellow backpacker from Grovetown, said she had to leave because the place was too bland, mind-boggling even, and that statement was spot on. It's a nice little quiet town with nothing to do.

Dominik and I stayed at Mike's farm for a week, helping him with some work and being rewarded by his chef skills plus swapping the hostel bunks for nice bedrooms with huge soft beds. A fair price for feeding lambs, building a new fence around the paddock and standing up to our knees in the mud digging an old pipe out of the ground. Another highlight were the sand flies; the damn things love me, I had my own sand fly fan club flying around 24/7, wish I had the same success with girls.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Goodbye Grovetown

The pruning season is over and it's time for us to say goodbye to the hostel that's been our home for the past three months, and to the people we met here (most of whom are already gone anyway). I've blogged a lot about vineyards, but haven't said anything about the place and the people here. Maybe I'll fix it at some point, but for now let me just say that Saturday's goodbye barbecue was nice and very... filling.

It also gave me a clear sign that it's high time I stopped messing around in vineyards: when I was preparing my juicy 1kg steak, its shape reminded me of a plant and I wanted to prune it...

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The nicest last day at work

Chasing dogs and sipping wine with the producer of The Terminator... I wish all last days at work were like this.

Mr. Bruce Kerner and his wife Joanne are former Hollywood producers, now enjoying their retirement in an amazing place called the Kerner Estate, producing wine instead of films. Thanks to their runaway dog, we had the pleasure of meeting them on our last day of work and having a drink together. After giving our sweat and blood to all those vineyards, this was a very nice treat. And we got two bottles of wine from the very plants we pruned!

Only 420 crates are produced each year.
Now, what's with the dog? We had made Mr. Kerner's acquaintance in the morning, had a chat about his stay in Prague in 1993 (touching the subject of Czech beer more than lightly), about Arnold Schwarzenegger's ageing and about a bunch of other topics. Later on he drove his stylish golf cart (ideal for riding around a vineyard) to us again, gave us a leash and asked to try and catch his runaway dog if we see it. We did see it, and we did try to catch it; needless to say our effort was in vane. Poor Matt chased it all over the property before realizing the dog was just playing.

No good deed goes unrewarded, though, and when Dominik and I were about to leave (Matt and Peter had already gone playing golf, not knowing what they were going to miss), the Kerners invited us for a drink in their house (which looks as amazing on the inside as it does on the outside). Thanks guys, it was a pleasure meeting you!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Leaving Blenheim, at last (and about time)

It's final, we're finally leaving vineyardland. Not that there isn't enough work to keep us busy for another couple of weeks, but we're so sick of vineyards that we just have to go. Besides, we don't want to spend the whole working holiday in one place. We were already supposed to leave in August, but then one more job came our way, and then another, and another... and if we carried on like this, we'd rot in here forever.

We therefore decided that Saturday is going to be the last day of work and on Monday we leave. Dominik and I are going to do a week's woofing at Mike's farm, really looking forward to it (something tells me we ain't gonna do much work, but it's gonna be a lot of fun). After the woofing we've planned a bit of travelling around the north part of the South Island, and then we probably split and continue travelling separately. Matt got a job in Christchurch, so he's leaving us already.

The time in Grovetown Hotel, the place where we lived for the past three months, has been really nice. We met lots of nice people, had a good time with them, got to know this part of New Zealand rather well, but it's time to move on, and we're all really, really glad we can leave them bloody vineyards behind!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Happy drinkers, unhappy home

This is what you look at if you go to the public toilets at the Blenheim cinema theatre. They seem to take drinking problems really seriously in New Zealand (you should see those touching 5-minute TV spots). The government must be dumping loads of money into this, apparently they're trying to break the "Weekend piss-up" culture, so it's a bit of a shame that after all the brain massage you turn on the radio and the first thing you hear is: "Friday six-pack program, we'll be playing six AC/DC songs and for every one of them you need to drink a can of beer!". Easy to give up that way, innit?