Friday, May 8, 2015

Death Comes from the Right and ...

The drive along the Tasman Sea was beautiful!
It was a beautiful drive across the top of the mountains and down through the valleys. Easy for me to say, as I am not behind the wheel. We arrived in Greymouth with the plan to go directly north for about 45 minutes to see the famous Pancake Rocks. Everyone said it is a MUST DO even though I had no idea what to expect. Once again, it was a hike from the road into the area near the Tasman Sea where the rock formations drew the crowd.

The scenery is breathtaking everywhere!

Very interesting natural formations.
The area is actually the Punakaiki & Paparoa National Park, lying midway between Greymouth and Westport on the upper west side of the South Island. Punakaiki is a small settlement next to the park and is most known as a stop for ice cream and a quick hike to Dolomite Point to see the Pancake Rocks and blowholes. The rock formations were caused by a layering-weathering process called stylobedding. This has caused the limestone to look like thick piles of pancakes. When the tide is high or the wind is strong, the sea surges in and sprays up through holes in the rocks. There is a nice 15-30 minute walk that loops from the highway out to the rocks and blowholes. It was worth the extra time and drive. 

The interesting layering accounts for the name Pancake Rocks.

One of the many blowholes where the waves come
crashing in and surge up through holes in the rocks!
Our overnight accommodations were in Hokitika, a town known for its New Zealand jade and the many artist who carve it. I had planned this stop so I would have time to shop. I don’t shop for souvenirs often, but I do like to pick up unique pieces of jewelry as I travel. Since this is the NZ jade center, it seemed like the best place to see that special piece – or two!

It is important to educate yourself about the jade before falling in love with a piece. And price signals many things: less known carver or jade that has actually been imported from British Columbia! I didn’t sail halfway around the world to buy something that came from North America! The price for items carved in the New Zealand Nephrite is priced much higher.

One of the jade artists at work.

Look at this settee and chair made of jade!

What is interesting is the pendant meanings. The carvers have a number of traditional shapes that they enhance with their own artistic approach. However, the basic meanings of the shape stay the same. For example:
- The fish hook (Hei Matau) is representative of prosperity and good health for the wearer. It also represents strength and determination, as well as promising safe passage over water. (Yes, I have a fish hook piece, but it is made of Paua or abalone shell, not jade.)
- Spiral (Koru) shapes are derived from the unfurling fern frond depicting new beginnings, growth and harmony. The spiral can also express the promise of a meaningful relationship.
- Twists or Crossover designs are a seamless design that can involve a single or several turns. It represents the bonding of a special friendship or relationship. 
- The Toki shape was originally used as a carving tool, developed as a ceremonial, inherited Taonga (treasure). It symbolizes strength and courage.

- The Manaia is a spiritual guardian and the carrier of supernatural powers. It is traditionally depicted with the head of a bird, the body of a man, and the tail of the fish. These represent sky, earth and sea and the balance between them.

There are others such as the whale tail and all have a specific meaning to the Maori people. The pendants are traditionally worn on a black braided cord. I asked if they put them on silver or gold chains and the response from the native was “this is our gold – the jade.” I guess I will leave mine on the cords.

After Vicki and I had inflicted some financial pain in the jewelry stores, we headed down to the beach after dinner to view the remains of an art competition. It was a sculpture competition with everything being made from drift wood and other found beach items. Some were amazingly large and interesting even though the wind had had its way with the sculptures for over a week.

This town is full of artists of all types and it would have been fun to spend another day snooping around. They are well known for their Wildfoods Festival held in early March. I am glad we were out of there! They attract over 20,000 people whom they refer to as “curious and brave gourmands” as they eat a “whole lot of things you would usually either run away from or flick out of your hair!” YUCK!

And so you are still wondering about death, huh? Well, the next morning when Vicki went to put her things in the van, there was a brown mouse staring at her.

You don’t know the trait my mother passed on to us: we freak at mice! As she did in the parking lot. Of course, the mouse dove somewhere to be safe. Somewhere in the car that is!!! We must have picked him up in the rural Arthur’s Pass area where we had left the cabin doors open for hours. He had been in everything in the car!
So you see, not only does death come from the right, but it comes from under the seat. If one of us were to see that little creature and scream while the guys were driving, for sure, we would have gone off a cliff!

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