Monthly Archives: March 2012


Heading back towards Christchurch for the last couple of days and I decided to end my trip on a healthy note.  Patricia from kindly rustled me up a goodies bag that I ordered at short notice.  More of the delicious raw quiche, veggie crackers, cream ‘cheese’ and 6 of the raw sweet nutty brownies.   We drove past her house to pick up the order; the earthquake had damaged their shop premises. raw curried quiche

The GPS got itself terribly lost – instructions became frantic ‘turn left, turn right, turn round, do a U-turn’. We just needed to get from one side to the other but the main part of the city is still cordoned off 13 months after the earthquake and diversions are in place all over.  These poor people have suffered terribly; a suburb near the beach was like a ghost town, buildings leaning crookedly, half the walls missing, sunken into the ground.  One part of us was hoping for an earth tremor so we could say ‘Oh my God, I was in Christchurch and we felt this terrible shaking!’ Human nature we admit it.  On the other hand we don’t want any more devastation around for the NZ people. I said to Geoff ‘Do not make the earth move for me tonight!’

The earthquake has created a new economy for many in the construction industry and the residential market.  Those who no longer have a home are called ‘Red Zoners’. Their home is either demolished or earmarked for demolition and because the insurance companies do not cover earthquake damage, the government has had to pay the Red Zoners out.   Which means, as they get their payout, they are cashed up and in the market for a new house.  The Orange Zoners live in a state of limbo, waiting to be classified as safe or not.  And we think we are stressed?!  The Catholic Church, such a magnificent building has shipping containers rammed against both sides to stop it falling down.

I thought the sign was a joke but no, the ask trucks especially to drive very slowly to minimise the vibrations.

In the meantime business and life carries on around the barriers, the rubble, the patched up streets.   Christchurch is known as a Garden City and we have seen many parks and flowers.  Supermarkets are much better than ours with wide aisles and an amazingly high standard and variety of products.  Some have dispensers filled with raw nuts, goji berries, dried nuts and fruits, help yourself to the amount you would like in zip lock bags weighed at the counters.  Very handy.    Geoff visits the beer, meat, bread and dairy sections and I choose the fresh produce, nuts and fruits.  We muddle along okay….   

The trusty Camper van has braved every winding narrow scary mountain road all around the island.  Thanks to Geoff and his competent driving, we handed the keys back to the hire place without even a scratch on the vehicle.  Not counting the flappy bits that came off earlier in the trip from around the windscreen.  Many a van in the Caravan parks did not fare so well.  Drivers reversing straight into the van parked behind them, smashing into picnic tables, scratches all along the side at the dump stations and driving over tree roots.  And those were only the ones we saw!

How small are we compared to mighty mountains.  An impressive awe inspiring island, the countryside, waterways and people.  It has been a trip to remember!

 van mountain - how small are we

Akaroa - a jewel The crowning jewel on our trip was a visit to Akaroa.   Only 1½ hours from Christchurch on a circle of land with the town built in an extinct volcano crater.  Aren’t human beings perverse?   Why would you even take the chance of building in a volcano crater and why are they rebuilding Christchurch in exactly the same spots that the earthquakes hit?  And why has Brisbane continued to rebuild where the dreadful floods hit just a year ago and destroyed everything along the riverbank.  Stupidity? Money? Convenience?  What the hell is it?  For those of you who love a good discussion and want to share your 2 cents worth, give me a call and let’s get together for a few hours over some cheap fizzy, um some fresh apple juice.

The drive to Akaroa started like many others, steep squiggly roads up hills and mountains but as we have found all round the South Island, each area brings a different landscape.  This one was paradise, soft greens and gold and clumps of dark green trees all neatly laid out as wind barriers.  As we reached the top, Akaroa Bay sparkled in front of us with small islands.  The drive down passed many expensive country farms, holiday homes and yachts tethered in the bay.veggie garden The Giant's Housenew friends at the Giant's House

We visited The Giant’s House, created by Josie Martin a painter and sculptor who discovered the delights of mosaic and never looked back. .  It was like being on the set of Alice in Wonderland or part of an Enid Blyton fairy story.  If I had the extra time and money I would have stayed in the B&B part of the house and woken up to gaze out at fantasyland.  The exquisitely hedged veggie gardens were real and full of fresh edibles.  Akaroa village is very French in layout and has many French street names with a promenade by the lake to stroll along like they do on the continent in many lakeside and coastal towns.   Almost perfect until we drove past the Freemason’s lodge, that changed my whole perspective of the place, another long discussion to be had with anyone who cares to listen.  mosaic piano at The Giant's House Akaroamosaic steps

The view from our spot at the Caravan Park is something people pay big $ for, ours was $46 per night for both of us.   This princely sum includes the unlimited power we plug into, water to fill up our tanks and free showers in most places.  As well as use of the kitchens and other facilities, some places have spas and swimming pools.  If you want to travel around NZ, I can recommend the van thing – if you can get over feeling like a ‘sheep’ following the flock from one place to another.

Have you ever seen salt ponds before?   It’s a first for me and we drove alongside kilometres of flat open ponds, each one ringed by white rocks separating the ponds.  The wind was fierce and it blew white foamy bubbles over our car like snow.   The idea is the seawater evaporates and the salt is collected.  I have been buying hand harvested Celtic sea salt rather than the commercial bleached, iodised and deodorised table salt variety. foam from salt ponds - not snow! Salt factory Lake Grassmere Salt foam not snow!

Now I have tons of questions.  So how exactly do they collect the salt from the dry pond after the water is gone?  I mean, how can they not collect the sea sand at the same time with the salt particles and how do they separate them.  It would have been interesting to have a tour of the processing plant they had there, huge mounds of different coloured salt/sand but it wasn’t open to the public.   And I am going to study my Celtic (expensive) hand harvested sea salt a bit closer to see if in fact it is just sand with a bit of salt thrown in.

Being in New Zealand, each stretch of road is a revelation and next we were driving alongside a very dangerous looking wind swept coastline.  Black jagged rocks, huge piles of kelp seaweed being thrown against them.  But wait there was movement and it was like one of those 3D pictures you need to stare at intently to see the full image.  The rocks were covered in seals!  Now that the eyes realised they were there, hundreds appeared lying lazily flapping a flipper, rearing up to have a brief argument and flopping down again.  Young ones in a tidal pool waiting for the next rush of waves to crash in and throw them against the far side like teenagers playing dangerous games. Young seals playing in the tidal pool

We reached Kaikoura and had to decide if we were going to pay $300 to sail out and see the sperm whales.   We could just see them from the shore swimming in circles but sadly no tails or breathtaking jumps.  Decided against spending that amount and instead visited the sea-formed limestone caves for $30.  Limestone cavesOver 2 million years old and full of mini grottoes of pretty fantasy shapes, it was well worth it.

My disappointment at not seeing the whales soon disappeared over a foamy soy cappuccino in a quaint cosy coffee shop.  I guess I am a like a cheap drunk – easy to please.


Day 20 and not one fish has been caught by my man.  Perhaps I am his Jonah (bad luck charm) and instead the Fish Fairy for the rivers of New Zealand.

I will gold pan instead…..

Geoff is no amateur fisherman.  He has been trout fishing in the Lakes of Tasmania since he was a wee lad.  Every February sees the annual 2 week men only get together, friends and family that have been going to the same lake for the last 35 years. Strangely always around Valentine’s Day, smart buggers.

So here we have an experienced fisherman with a desire to catch a fish in New Zealand.  The rod and reel came along in the suitcase, the fishing license was bought and rules and regulations carefully read.  Every trickle of water we drove past was studied intently and believe me NZ has HUNDREDS of waterways, no shortage of water here.  Conditions have to be just right to catch a wily trout.

And look at the 1000’s of sheep, cattle and deer in paddocks we drive by …..Sheep in New Zealand

Down we went to the very tip of the South Island to Lands End – The Bluff, back up along the West Coast, over the top to Picton and wended our way back down the East Coast.  There are tons of lay byes to pull over and look at the magnificent views but most were too high to reach the water, or the water was running too fast or the day was too cloudy.  You need to see the tell-tale splash of a fish ripple, the dark shadow under the water and then cast your line.   There is no point throwing a line in the water if no fish are present.

And stop to admire the tiny blue toadstools growing in the forests…… blue toadstools

We did come across a few ideal conditions, water, visibility and FISH!  I stayed in the Camper van, made myself a cup of tea and read a magazine.  Eventually though curiosity overtook me and I would wander down to the water to find my man and see if he had a beaming face and a poor dead fish.  Empty handed he would be trudging back along the shore.    ‘They were right there!  I could see them, playing and swimming about but they just weren’t interested.’  It might have something to do with the regulations, no live bait is to be used,  the favoured worms and grasshoppers, only lures.  And the NZ fish are obviously immune to ‘fast food’ – artificially coloured plastic lures with deathly hooks hidden in between.  Pretty much like human fast food chains, brightly packaged non-nutrient junk food with deadly preservatives hidden in between. Cathedral Cliffs

And be amazed at the Cathedral Cliffs we came upon by accident……

Sometimes I watched the line being thrown out time and time again and I sent messages to the fish, swim away quickly!  Sorry Geoff…..    And then I felt guilty and tried to make up for it by finding rivers on the map and suggesting we travel that way, just so he could have a last chance at catching just ONE.photographing fish

Time is up, the fish are laughing!  They are there, I can see them! Will have to photograph them instead…..

2-week holidays can be a bit rushed and we are so glad we decided on 23 days just to tour the South Island.   Each day we sleep till we wake and I stay on track with a really good breakfast of organic raw muesli and fresh fruit knowing the first meal of the day is healthy.

When we are ready we hit the road and travel till we reach something we want to see or experience.  There was an impressive suspension bridge near Murchison.   I went first and got halfway before I realised Geoff wasn’t moving!  He was waving and saying, “Not going to do it!  No way.”  I tried to encourage him but no luck.  When I got back he said he had got dizzy.   Sensible I suppose, you don’t want a large man collapsing on a narrow steel bridge suspended high over a gorge.   suspension bridge

We did book in for the Abel Tasman cruise and that morning set the alarm.  One of NZ’s most picturesque National Parks and we chose the package that sailed right up the coastline, then dropped us off at Tonga Beach.  From there we walked the 2-hour track back to Medlands Beach where the later cruise boat picked us up.  If you are in to hiking you can do the whole 12km rather than sailing.  But you just don’t get the beauty of the coastline that way.

You just can’t get bored here, truly.   We missed a whole heap of things that you might like to do:

—– Wine tours are hugely popular, have you seen how many NZ wines there are?!  And they sell the alcohol in supermarkets, whole rows of it.  Wineries abound in many regions, totally wasted on us.  Geoff drinks beer and I can get by on a $6 bottle of cheap fizzy stuff.  Split apple rock, Abel Tasman parkwalking track Abel Tasman park

—– Adventure activities, whatever you desire, flying, white water, kayaking, hiking, flying foxes, biking.  There are too many to mention, most involve adrenalin, which I am not looking for.

—– Craft and curio places, jade factories, art galleries, museums.  Um yes, well we get kind of bored with those.   We did watch the jade carving in one factory and I resisted buying a pair of earrings to join my already huge collection.

—– Shows, theatres, movies.   No time but we might have enjoyed a couple of those.

And being creatures of routine we enjoyed getting to a caravan park about 3 or 4pm each day to settle in for the night and relax.  Geoff loves driving but there was no need to race through hundreds of km to reach the next spot and I am glad he factored in some relax time.   Helps me to stay on track for my dinner too!  Using the spacious clean communal kitchens to prepare a nice fresh salad.    communal kitchen in campervan land

Pancake Rocks South IslandA grey rainy day was perfect to drive along to the next amazing place  – Pancake Rocks.  We sat in a cosy coffee shop waiting for it to ease off but no luck this time.  Got the mac and brolley out and set off on the loop walk to see one of nature’s marvels.  Layer upon layer of rock forming stacks of ‘pancakes’.  Each corner of the well-paved pathway gave us a stunning view of the ocean and rocks.  The pathway made me think of China and paddy fields of rice.   It almost looks like a postcard or a painting but I was there and it was real.  Walkway at Pancake Rocks, looks like China!

In between, my raw food diet continues to play a big part in my holiday life.  I wonder does the appetising smell of some foods ever diminish?  How am I going to stay on the fresh foods that my body loves when my eyes and nose are lusting after the wicked things?

Last night I sat on the cushioned bench at our little table inside the van, wedged in my corner, my healthy salad in front of me.  Fresh corn scraped off the cob, red capsicum, tomatoes, chopped raw broccoli (now that is a cooked smell I do NOT lust after!) and a touch of oil and sea salt.  I added some of the leftover sliced veggie sausages and some lentils.  It was tasty.

Right next to me stood Geoff slicing up fresh white bread, which turned into lightly toasted golden heaven with thick slices of tasty cheddar cheese to go on top.  But wait; first he put lashings of golden butter on the toasty delicious smell. Then he microwaved a bowl of canned baked beans with mini sausages and sat opposite me using MY sounds of pleasure.  “Mmm, mmm, mm” and he does this little jiggle thing with his shoulders while he says it.  Working in my 'office'

Secretly I thought, “I keel you!” But I couldn’t invest energy into those feelings because I had to invest energy in resisting asking for a slice of toast and cheese.  I ate a mouthful of salad and almost asked, quickly shoved another mouthful of salad in the mouth and bravely kept going.

So many raw foodies have asked at our potlucks  – how do you manage when the rest of the family or the partner doesn’t eat raw.  And I make some positive comments.  Ah ha, but Geoff and I don’t live together yet and the times we are together I can manage.  So what shall I do when we have a daily life together?  Having a reaction to dairy, gluten and even soy does help me keep on track.  I had a coughing fit the other night, a tickle in the throat that turned into an hour-long throat clearing, coughing up phlegm and mucous session.  Gross but that is what happens when my temple (my body) rids itself of sticky gluten and mucous forming lactose and the soy seems to cause wheezing.   Yes the body is our temple, we need to worship it.

In the future the smell of toasted cheese might have no effect on me but I haven’t quite made it there yet.    But for today I resisted!fresh raw nutrients on the right

My dinner on the right with fresh salads mixed with cooked lentils and vegetarian sausages sliced up.  Mostly good for me and better than the cooked non-nutrient meal that Geoff was having.  And I had the little container of ‘parmesan’ to sprinkle on top which is actually a raw version made with sunflower & pumpkin seeds with nutritional yeast.  Made by and pretty damn good!

2 weeks and we’re both still smiling at each other as we travel along!

I know the blogs are coming fast and furious but I am on holidays and have time to do them!   We are travelling; eating, holidaying and enjoying the postcard picture beautiful scenery.  In between waging war on nasty sand flies and enduring a love hate relationship with our campervan.     vegemite crumpets and raw salad

Crumpets and vegemite – Geoff with one of his quick snack dinners.  I said ‘spot the nutrient’ but he was quick this time and said Vitaman B!  Vegemite claims it is rich in this vitamin.  I still say my dinner would easily win this one even if I did wash it down with some fizzy preservative-laced wine.

We’ve been in our trusty van for 2 weeks and the novelty is wearing thin.  First the side rubber things that hold the windscreen edges started to come off and flap in the wind as we drove.  Driver side first, Geoff tried to reattach it, got the shits and just unscrewed the whole piece.  We stowed it behind the sink/fridge unit.  A day later my side flapped cheerily in the breeze, that too was unscrewed and stowed away. Campervan Land Queenstown

There are 1000’s of Camper vans on the roads and most of them are white, we sleep at night in van land with other ‘sheep’ that are all doing the same things. Empty out the chemical loo at the dump station, plug in power, fill up water tanks and get something to eat.  My raw food is easy, I don’t need power and washing up is easy.  

I attempt to be navigator reading from the dozen leaflets and maps we have picked up along the way but the GPS robotic voice drowns me out.  Why do we need a GPS to drive on the only coastal road there is?!  Well says Geoff, it shows the twists and turns in the road, the rivers and the mountains and secretly I think he prefers it because it doesn’t talk back to him like I do.   So I just shove another piece of fruit in my mouth and hum a little tune and look out the window. 

Our mini skylight leaked one night, steady rain for hours and I woke to a drip drip drip sound on the sink.  The electric plugs were right under that and our little heater would not turn on, now that was serious!  Geoff found the fuse box, we dried everything up and all was good.   You have to love a practical man! stunning lakes South Island

Part of my daily routine is to locate and eliminate all the tiny terrors that have rushed into our open doors as we climb into our vehicle. One NZ website tells us ‘If you can’t handle sand flies then don’t bother visiting the West Coast of the South Island’.  I didn’t know much about sand flies but now I know a lot and it’s all bad.  Given my recent history with insect bites, you will understand I am not happy about sand fly bites. Outside we cover ourselves with a natural repellent that Margo gave me the recipe for, it seems to help temporarily and smells nice too….  farm stall fresh raw produce

Found a lovely farm stall with all sorts of fresh produce and home made sauces etc.  Chickens clucking out the front around our van and in the countryside.    Stocked up on things, Geoff does love his veggies – it’s just he likes to cook them to smithereens until they are soft and lifeless.  But that’s still better than canned I think!

Day 12 and we haven’t had a serious fall out yet.  We have threatened to kill each other in a sort of serious joking kind of way.   Have any of you watched Jeff Dunham a very popular ventriloquist?  One of his characters is Achmed the dead terrorist, hilarious!  Achmed is dead but refuses to accept this even though he is a skeleton with bandages wrapped around his head and every time the audience laughs at him he screeches ‘I keel you!!’   We find that if we threaten to ‘keel’ each other, it diffuses the tension.  kiwi land

Geoff bless him, knows I don’t want oily, meaty cooking smells in the campervan – so he sits outside in the cold with the little portable barbecue, smokes and drinks beer while cooking his food out there.  Or we use the communal kitchens at the caravan parks.  And he puts up with my paranoid South African ways of double-checking that he’s locked ALL the van doors whenever we leave the van (even if it’s just for 10 minutes).  Geoff outside with his bbq

We had an amazing day in Queenstown.  First thing in the morning we took the Gondola cable car up the mountain to ooh and aah at the view.  There are heaps of activities for all ages – the luge, mountain biking where you use the cable car to come up and bike all the way down again, bungy jumping, paragliding.  Fortunately we both agreed on coffee drinking as our main activity up there.

After lunch we experienced the Onsen hot pools, by appointment only.  There are 6 private hot tub rooms on the edge of a mountain, a view over the river.  No one can see in and there are dials that open the sliding window all the way leaving us in the hot bubbly water with the real sky above us, leaning on the edge of the tub gazing out at the riverbed.  Luxuries like this make up for any bad days at work!  From there we headed back into town, parked by the Lake Esplanade and ended up at Bar Zero.  They provide you with snuggly snow jackets, hats and gloves to enter into the -8 degree bar totally carved out of ice.  The ice stools covered with cloths to sit on, the counter, table and even our drinking glasses made out of solid frozen blocks. ice bar Queenstown

I bought myself some vegetarian sausages to have with my salads & cooked potato, a 50-50 meal as I call it.  50% raw fresh and 50% cooked.  vegetarian sausages

My raw goodies have run out!  For a lot of the committed raw vegans out there, a solution is always at hand including wild edibles.  So far I have not ventured far into any paddocks to see if there are dandelions, purslane and other weeds.   Lacking in experience I’m not sure what is edible or not.preparing our individual meals in the communal park kitchen

(Photo of us in one of the camper van communal kitchens, each of us preparing our own food!)

I know that is a cop out and this holiday is about attempting to stay on my high raw diet while travelling with a die hard meat eating, cooked food diet person especially if we plan to live together one day.  Breakfast is easy, fresh fruit and organic muesli.   By mid morning my ‘time for a little something’ is kicking in and the ‘I want a cappuccino’ trigger takes over.   An emotional trigger which I have refused to deal with over the last 6 years of eating raw.   Geoff is usually hungry by then because he only has coffee and cigarettes for his breakfast.

raw avocado salad with roast potatoes

Next best thing is to buy a gluten free option but that usually contains dairy.  Lunch is taken in a picturesque location overlooking either the ocean, rivers or mountains, cosy little café’s and restaurants that offer tempting cooked food options and sweet white fizzy wines.  Cold weather = warm hot meals.  So as you can gather my resolve has slipped.  I have had some dinners that were salads with cooked potatoes, not too bad and a magnificent veggie wrap.  The quality of food offered in restaurants has been impressive.

Geoff is surveying every lake we drive alongside, we stop at lay byes and he casts an experienced eye over the water and gets excited when he see the tell-tale splash which means FISH!  After throwing the line out a few times he has had no luck, the fish have had a look and decided ‘Nah, not interested.’  Smart.  Greens and blues of the countryside and waterways, so clean and unspoilt.looking for fish New Zealand

Tomorrow is another day to start fresh with living foods, after all that is what I encourage people at my raw food workshops to do.  If you have a bad day, start again tomorrow.  The benefits are huge and Geoff knows this, he commented on my cough that has returned (from gluten and lactose).  When I eat high raw, I glow with good health.

Photo of my delicious veggie wrap looking so fresh and alive, plate next to it Geoff’s with the cooked meal.  Spot the nutrients!veggie wrap

Besides the raw ‘n cooked food differences we have, the Campervan life is going fairly smoothly but more about that next time….

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