Destination: Motueka, South Island, Nov 3 – 6, 2008

Spring is a good time for traveling.  Earlier in November, Bruce & I went on a road trip with our friend Briar,  heading up to the top of the south island to Ngatimoti (about 30 km south of Moteuka) to visit her friends Shiloh and Lani and their kids Aarla and Cilas.

Shiloh & Lani’s House

Ngatimoti is nestled in the Motueka Valley  Very fertile, it is filled with produce growers cultivating grapes, apples, and hops used for beer.     Shiloh & Lani own a 60 hectare property tucked in one of the valleys. They’ve been on their land for 18 years and have created a permaculture paradise. When they bought the property, it had been pastureland for a long time but one would never guess looking at it now.  Lush & verdant, they’ve planted thousands of trees including over 100 nut trees (walnuts, almonds, macadamia, hazelnuts) and an amazing array of fruit trees.   The native bush in the deep valley has regenerated.


They’ve built everything.   Shiloh is a stone mason by trade.  He designed and built most of their house;  he designed and built a water wheel (pictured above), an amazing work of engineering which powers a bank of batteries which powers their house.   They’ve made a huge solar deydrator (pictured below) to dry all their excess fruits and vegetables and have an amazing cold store room for all their bottled goodies.   They are totally off the grid.   No television, no computers, no refrigerator or freezer.    The toilet is an outhouse which he designed so that they can compost the waste onto their forestry area.  The lifestyle they lead is very much one driven by the land and one that is quite peaceful.   They know how to work hard yet relax and have fun.

Solar dehydratorStoreRoomHouse

We spent three days relaxing and asking lots and lots of questions.  We helped out in the bountiful garden, helping to sow corn and peas.   We cooked a lot of delicious yet simple meals including homemade pasta!  Briar showed Aarla and I how to make small rugs using a Navajo Indian weaving technique.  The boys (including Bruce) played musical instruments. It was delightful.

Making PastaBruce playing sax

I’d thought I was getting a summer holiday though and was really looking forward to a burst of warm weather.   Alas, that’s not what the weather gods had in mind.  A southerly storm blew in bringing a lot of rain and snow into the higher mountain regions.  It was quite cold.   Our drive home through the Lewis Pass offered lovely vistas of snow peaked mountains and snow tipped pine forests.  We stopped at Maruia Hot Springs for a soak in the tubs and enjoyed some al fresco dining by the car before finishing our drive home.

Lewis Pass SnowBruce & Briar

An excellent and inspirational trip!