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My bedThe last few days have been spent at a beautiful permaculture backpackers called the Treehouse. There is a reason that this place has a history of being the best backpackers hostel in all of New Zealand and I think it makes plenty of sense. When you arrive the entire hostel is covered in native forest that has been regenerated from 20 years of permaculture work by the beautiful couple that owns this hostel and land. Essentially, when they first arrived it was old sheep grazing land with a few old natives trees around the land. As they tell their humble story to me about reclaiming the land by letting things grow more wild within the grazing land I look around and find myself taking a deep breath of fresh air. Permaculture is the way to go for sustainable food production folks. I know that now and I know that this is where i’m headed in my life. Full stop. It’s impressive to be here in a place that has turned a cleared native forest from a sheep feeding acreage back into a native forest again.

AND they have planted many native and non-native fruit / nut varieties throughout the forest (permaculture concept to have food placed throughout a forest). Some of the fruit I’ve noticed is gala apples, lime, macaroon nuts (oh yeah baby), pears, bananas, guava, grapes everywhere! I decided this might be a cool place to woof at (and save some cash) and have been spending today removing a dock from a swamp they have near one of the little huts you can sleep in. They put me up in a house bus for the time that I’m staying here which is pretty freakin’ rad cause I have a space to myself finally (no more snoring or people doing other things in the bed below me — ugg — ask me about that story later). But if you ever have the chance PLEASE come here and spend some time. This place is freakin magical and so are the people who own it.

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I spent the last few days (well actually the 23rd and 24th) of last weekend at the Soundsplash Eco Reggae Festival in Raglan a surfer town known to many.I left Turangi on Thursday and not long after leaving the outskirts of the city I had some rad feral hippies scream out of their car window if I wanted a ride (read: the use of feral is common in these parts by hippies and I [they agreed] attribute that to something like how black people call themselves niggers). Plus I’m feral as well and that happens when one doesn’t actually need to shower everyday I suppose. These two womyn have to be the best ride I’ve had so far in New Zealand. They made a detour to the *free* hot springs on the way up to Raglan, which I definitely didn’t object to doing. We all dived into these beautiful waters mixed with cold river water and hot water coming from the volcano and honestly it was the coolest/weirdest feeling I’ve felt in a while. I had no swimming outfit (well it was in the bottom of my bag) so I just used my underwear which made for a good swimming suite. I probably would have gone naked but there were people around so decided against it.

Then off we went to Raglan ot the land of chilled out vibes, surfing bays, beautiful country-side, and some great peeps. The entire weekend was chalked full of some really amazing music including the highlight for me – Mihirangi!

Mihirangi performs acoustic soulful-roots and funky world-r’n’b with a rare performance style. She creates her own band sound – live in front of the audience. Using a loop pedal she layers her vocals into intricate harmonies with beat boxing and vocal bass lines, along with acoustic guitar and tribal rhythms, to accompany her R’n’b infused vocals.” – Mihirangi’s website

I’m telling you this performance was worth missing Blue King Brown (one of the reason’s why I originally headed to Raglan) for. She had a lot of energy, love, and good vibes coming from her performance. I kinda wished that I had an opportunity to chat with her afterward but things were crazy that night and at the very least she put me in a great mood. So thanks for that Mihirangi. And on a rad plug note check out her website El Canado Kids cause she’s coming to a place near you. AND she has good promo deals for those that are willing ot help her out with her gigs (they are all in March folks).

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I decided it was best to rest and take some time out for my leg (which appears to be slowly healing and yet yesterday’s hitchin kinda flared things up a bit but I’ll survive).

Regardless, my time at Rongo Backpackers (Rongo meaning peace in Maori) and the idea behind this is to establish a beautiful artistic community with lots of great ideas including a permaculture farm, more building expansion, and the development of a bigger community. So far they are off to a really great start in this chilled out environment. I think anyone coming off the Heaphy Track would be silly to not stay here for a few days and see what they have to offer honestly.

I managed to spend a bit of time getting to know the woofers and the collective owners of this project (well some at least) and it was worth it. The Rongo backpackers has been focussed on making their hostel as sustainable as they can afford to (read: the more money they make the more they invest in environmental projects to reduce their carbon footprint). Roll the list…

  • They have some pretty amazing things setup such as a huge rain barrel in the backyard that feeds the shower water (possibly the toilets as well). This is the first time that I’ve run across a hostel like this and it makes me pretty happy to have a staggered shower with reused rain water (YAH)!
  • All the water for the showers is heated with solar heating on the roof. I was totally giddy when Paul took me around to show me the heaters. Two different panels were used to heat all the water used by everyone (sizeable hostel really) staying at Rongo. I’ve seen this once before at a sustainable eco-lodge up in northern Alberta called Aurum Lodge (beautiful place to stay too)
  • Composting – This included raw food for the garden and cooked food for local pigs *being a vegan I’d rather see the food go towards something then be chucked out*

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Ahh Rimu

So today marked the last day of the Heaphy Track for me. It’s pretty hard to describe the entire experience in one post but regardless I think that I can slam in a few highlights for peeps to read.

On the first day of the hike I was going up some pretty steep rock pathways and managed to mangle my leg. (read: it really hurts to bend my knee). Now this wasn’t discovered until I rocked into the first hut called Perry Saddle Hut. At the time I had thought that my injury wasn’t as bad as it later appeared to be. I ended up hiking the remainder of the trek (hiking = tramping here in NZ) which was approximately 60 KM through some crazy terrain with my leg. The last day although an amazing experience was probably the hardest for me.
Saxon Hut to myself

Regardless, the amazing scenery was something of a treat for me to take in. All the vegetation, environment, animals and air seemed to change so many times I could hardly keep track. On the second night I spent it sleeping completely on my own in the Saxon hut. I was surrounded by mountains on both sides of me, a kitchen overlooking the mountains, and a relaxing vibe (pic on the left). I woke up at about 5:30 AM in the morning cause I had to use the facilities and upon looking around all the landscape was covered lightly in a beautiful fog, the full moon was bright and in the horizon the sun was rising. I stood there for a little while and took it all in and then headed back to bed for a bit more rest before jetting off.

The day that I hiked to the Heaphy Hut (9 hour hike) was the most special to me. At the end I came across Remu trees (picture above) that were the widest tree I’ve ever seen in my life. I spent a bit of time (until the sandflies tried to carry me off to their layer for an early dinner) standing near one just being in it’s presents thinking about how long it had been there, how many peeps had passed it, and what cool stories it would have to tell if it could talk (no I wasn’t on anything). Read the rest of this entry »

Tasman walk beachAfter meeting up with Becs (a musician from OZ) and Lilo (an Austrain sculture) in Takaka we all decided to rent a vehicle and roll down the westcoast together (read: 1 Villie *his name* which was a station wagon we all crammed into at night for rest…it was an amazing feat).

The westcoast of New Zealand proved to be one of hte most memoriable moments of this trip yet. The breath taking forests, beaches, rock, caves, and all the rest really had me feeling more and more connected with nature. It was nice to travel with two other peeps who like to take their time with no real agenda on hand. It made for interesting and beautiful moments together filled with music making, lots of amazing conversations, and interesting meals made in the bush.

Cool caves to explore

We managed to dumpster dive a bit of fruit and such to eat together (they were into my diving techniques and it made it easy in places like Takaka where the organics are placed in seperate bins). We also managed to make mattresses out of scavanged cardboard boxes for some padding rather than buying something to later be thrown out or carted elsewhere.

I definitely agree with Lilo that the best part of the Westcoast (thus far) has been that from Westport to Greymouth. And if you are rollin down that area PLEASE take your time rather than just rockin up somewhere, taking a picture, and then rollin on. Not sure how people are able to do that really but I guess it’s really your perogative. I think that at this point I have that connection with the earth that I was looking for since I got to New Zealand (thanks to Becs and her strong native connections). I think it’s going to make my trek through the Heaphy Track that much more special for me.

Hope life is rollin well for everyone! After the Heaphy Track I’m heading to a national park near Greymouth to do some conservation work! WAHOO!

“One of the biggest killers on this planet is apathy. I read a thing in an internet cafe calendar in Galway, Ireland, yesterday that read ‘why are the people who have all the answers to world problems taxi drivers and hair dressers?’ This was a very good skit on human behaviour in general where people have all the answers and don’t act on their ideas. Why not?” — Venus Kamura from On Fire: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement.

Yes everyone knows I read a lot of different things and although this book is a little patchy there are some areas of it that I find quite interesting and to the point.

I’ve now received a few messages from friends saying that they’ve felt as though they want to make some changes in their lives, and have been disheartened by it all in the past. Now they are committing to something new and want to integrate changes in their lives to make change in their own world! YAAH to you guys! WOOT WOOT

Well it’s not that hard to imagine it to be difficult really.

I think whether you are an activist or not you know that change needs to happen in our world so that it’s a place that the children of the future can enjoy. No one wants to leave a huge mess for them to cleanup as we have been left from past generations. It’s our responsibility to be role models, elders, and guardians for Mumma E (read: mother earth).

I think that all this boils down to a few things for me at least.

Firstly, be careful how many things you take on in your life. Keeping things really simple, breath easy, and focus your attention on a few actions that you can handle to start. Branch when you are comfortable. No one likes peanut that is thinly spread on many slices of bread so why would you spread your skills thinly across different type of issues. It’ll only weaken your ability. Plus you don’t want to walk away feeling jaded or tired or burnt out at the end of the day.

Secondly, and probably most importantly is my general philosophy since Otesha. I have them thank for this philosophy. When trying to adopt change in your life start by adopting something small, once you get comfortable, adopt something else that is new and will influence change. This is how we encourage youth on our bike tour to make changes in their lives. If you take baby steps life is more manageable and you won’t feeling like giving it all up because it appears to “be to much to handle.” This is the only way that our world will change in one big revolution. Apathy is an easy out especially when you think of all the huge things we need to take on a society to change it. But I never look at it like that. I’m thankful for the decisions I make each day to try and reduce my imprint and talk to people about issues that I see around me.

Lastly, the Dalai Lama knew it best when he said “Be the change you want to see in the world today.” It’s just that easy. Well sorta. Take a deep breath, be proud of where you are at, and remember that growth is about knowledge, learning, and change. At no point do we ever stop changing or growing and all those actions we take are causing other actions and movements to happen. Children watch us as the elders of the future.

Yeah it’s not really something that relates to my travels but I feel now strongly about this as I travel around New Zealand and yet to find activists. Perhaps they are hiding or just underground who knows. But at least I can be my own activist right?

WORD TO YAH MOTHA

Shane

PS – You have to remember that if you make one action today…think about if everyone took that action. Think about what happens when someone sees you taking that action and then questions you about it. Oh yes then the revolution starts!

[Note: If you’ve sent me an email recently chances are I haven’t replied because my email out here seems really not all that accessible. Not sure if the government is blockin it or that the hosting is crapola. I know it’s up cause my friends back in canada have told me so. So bare with me 😛 ]

There is lots to write about (thoughts wise) but just to give you an update I’ve been chillin out in Christchurch with my old friend Duncan whom I met on the Galapagos Island. We worked together on a”trying-to-be” sustainable farm out there signing Queen songs at night while washing dishes. It was nice to see him again! I’m off today to check out some hot springs, do some more hiking (an abudance in this city), and see some dolphins on the weekend.

It’s weird I’ve spent a bit of time researching local activist groups to no avail it seems. Kinda a weird scene not being to hook up with some common peeps but that’s life on the road I suppose. So all those out there just remember it’s at times like this that I remember all the rad stuff you are doing to make the world a better place *thanks for that*.

More to come when I get a chance!

Peace and bike grease,

Shane

Well it’s officially 4 days from my departure off to OZ (Australia). Can you believe that?

I think it’s finally set in to my head that I’m leaving Calgary for a new place, some adventure, life, and challenges yet again (thanks for the nice chat tonight Wheats..you rock!) . I’m getting excited and a little nervous (expected) about going.

What are you going to do there? Umm well the plan is to buy a car like the one to theSlobbering at the thought right of this message. After spending some time with my cool Aunt in Sydney I want to tour around the country-side volunteering on permaculture wwoofing farms, do some other random jobs, see sights, talk about the environment, learn more, and generally just have lots of amazing experiences.

My dream is to head to Tasmania after a few weeks with my aunt and go see my crazy friend Ed (from Otesha) who lives down there. He’s a pretty great guy and it would be nice to have a little Australia reunion of sorts down there. Then after that I’m thinking of heading up the east coast, across the desert (oh don’t worry I’ll hit up the barrier reef too), and then down the west coast. Some of this might be overly ambitious and we’ll have to see how much time I really have to do everything. But my last three months travelling with be spent in New Zealand most likely. I’m flying out of Auckland on August 5th to head back to Canada for my sisters wedding which is happening on August 11th.

A last note. For those that I don’t get to talk to, drink with, or haven’t spent time with before I left … it kinda sucks but I’ve loved the e-mail chats and I’m sure that when I get back we’ll reconnect at some point. I’m wishing everyone an amazing year full of some adventure, life, love, happiness, and plenty of laughter (to the point of crying).