The Road Rising

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Halfway points and Happy endings

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About October last year we learnt that a small rutherstrong was making its presence felt, mostly though making me feel remarkably queasy. Unbelievably, we’re now about half way through and I’ll blame being not getting around to blogging on being pregnant – it’s been a bit rough so far . Most of the nausea is gone and little bean is making its presence felt in new ways – tiny little kicks and wriggles. Baby is due 25 May.

So it’s exciting times for us, a whole new adventure, though one which has caused a few other plans to be shifted. Initially, we had a six month contract with the Kakapo recovery project on the beautiful Whenua hou (Codfish island) just off the northwest coast of Stewart island. We had to cut this short to just two months, and now we’re about a week from the end of our two months. It’s been so special being back in the place Malcolm and I met, and a real privilege to be immersed in beautiful bush and surrounded by unique wildlife. The unseasonably cold spring has meant that prospects aren’t looking great for Kakapo breeding this season, but that is still hanging in the balance a little while longer, with some of the males booming at night and getting ready for action there’s hope yet. With only 125 of these incredible birds in the world even 3 or 4 chicks is cause for celebration. So we reluctantly say goodbye to this special place at the end of January and start our next journey.

We’re heading up the coast from Malcolm’s parents in Taieri beach all the way to Gisborne on the east coast of the north island. From where we are now, that’s a one way trip of over 1550 km. There we hope to find somewhere to live, find a job, and settle down to a reasonable state of readiness before little bean’s arrival.

So that’s the brief update, I’ll let some pictures do more of the talking. My little camera is not doing so well, so apologies for the lack of quality in some of these.

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Rugged Stewart island coast on the flight over.

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Slightly blurry – our home – while we’re on the island.

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Flax by the creek.

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Front porch.

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Malcolm greets a cambbell island teal – smallest duck in the world, very rare, and also flightless.

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And so cute…

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Bliss – new zeland fur seal on the rocks.

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The beautiful sealers bay beach

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Malcolm and a large rimu tree.

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Hookers sea lion female on the beach.

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The beach and creek.

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Kamahi and supplejack.

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Malcolm on the track after some heavy rain… looks cold Malcolm.

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And a yellow-eyed penguin Juvenile making its way home.


Written by eleanoraa

January 19, 2013 at 11:49 pm

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land of cloud and light

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It’s hard to believe we’ve been home now for more than a month – in some ways, we’ve just been getting our head around all the things we’ve done this year, it has been nice to slow down a bit and reconnect with familiar places and people. We start our jobs in early November, so have a few months to visit friends and family around the north and south islands before heading down to whenua hou (codfish island).

Flying in, we were treated to the spectacular sight of the snow clad southern alps, and a braided river winding though gravel beds, and the sight of a rainbow over the Canterbury plains. Seeing the destroyed city centre of Christchurch was pretty shocking, the devastation to people’s lives is just awful.

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Then we headed south, to the coastal town of Taieri mouth, Malcolm’s parent’s new home.  The constantly changing  light and clouds of the southern Dunedin coastline create a kaleidoscopic panorama of beauty.

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dawn over moturata island

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sheep and mountains (out the car window)

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All the things we notice about coming home feel visually poignant – the classic new Zealand scenes of red corrugated iron wool sheds, sheep grazing on green fields, white feathery toi-toi and the distinctive outline of cabbage trees stark against the sky (cordyline australis) make up some of the composite details of rural New Zealand. The light is blue-er here,  tingeing the landscape with  a subtle coldness, and the land feels big, and empty. As we drove north, through tiny little towns and slightly bigger towns, we were struck by the almost disconcerting quietness of the place. Wide empty streets are decorated by small corner dairys, and very few pedestrians. We’ve also been surprised by how friendly people are, with time to strike up a conversation and a real willingness to extend help in the form of advice or information or a well-wishing. Occasionally we feel daunted at the fact that we’re setting off into the unknown again, this time the unknown prospects of jobs (well – known to be not easy to come by), a new community, in a time when the cost of food, fuel and electricity is hitting people hard. But we’re pretty hopeful, and have the privilege of amazing friends and family to lean on. Right now we’re checking out Gisborne as an option – it’s a really isolated town of about 30 000 people on the north island’s east coast – we got here about a day ago, and so far it’s looking pretty good…

now we have to decide whether to wind up the blog ? we’re not quite settled down yet, and it is a travel blog… still undecided on that point

Written by eleanoraa

September 15, 2012 at 9:45 pm

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Farewell UK

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This evening we fly home. Well – back to New Zealand anyway- we will remain technically without a home for about another nine or ten months. But NZ is home as far as most of our family is there, and many of our friends are there. We’re so excited to be going back, and also a little sad to say goodbye to the UK, which has been brilliant for us. We fly from a mild average 21 degree UK summer to an 11 degree  daily high winter in Dunedin!  The plan is, to head to Malcolm’s folks to help with some unpacking (they have just moved to Taieri mouth near Dunedin), then a bit of a road-trip around the north island in September/October to see friends and family, then work on Codfish island/Whenua Hou for 6 months starting November. After that we hope to be able to find some long term jobs and settle down.

This last week has been great. We had a fabulous weekend with lovely friends in London, and soaked up some of the Olympic buzz around  town. Since then we’ve been staying with Anna (sister in law) while Don is away filming the Olympic sailing. So we are being extra pairs of hands to help with with new baby Charlie (a little over 3 weeks old) and the extremely cute and very active 17 month old  Albion. It’s kept us all  busy enough, but it’s been lovely to spend time with our wee nephews and with Anna, and to walk Baxter the dog in the great Windsor park.

Albion – what a cutie

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Baxter – in the lake, roll in leaves and got a tennis ball, what more does a dog want?…

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(Other than his bed to himself again)

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Malcom meets Charlie

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That’s better…

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the park

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Now to the horrid task of trying to juggle our luggage about so we’re not hugely overweight. I’ve calmed down a lot but airports still make me very jumpy and tense. I’m always convinced that somehow we’re gonna miss our plane/ have forgotten something vital (like passports) or got the date wrong. All going well we should arrive Friday morning in NZ, after a 24hr flight.  Homeward!

Written by eleanoraa

August 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm

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working on the catholic worker farm

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This week we’re volunteering at one of our favourite places- the Catholic Worker Farm. They are exceptional in how they live out their faith- by inviting homeless refugee women into their home, and lives, until they have access to some kind of funding, housing and some level of stability.  Its tough work, they have to pay rent on 2 houses big enough to house 17 women and children, fundraise, grow food and care for the pretty diverse needs of their women. While trying to do all that in a manner that is loving, gentle and compassionate. Some women stay for several years. This week, the first baby to be born while her mother is living here came back from hospital. Pretty exciting! Her two year old brother Adi is having a great time running about the lovely big garden. Here he is trying on Malcolm’s hat.

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Bertie the blind and elderly shar-pei snoring in his favourite place on the stairs (he knows us by smell now and even wags his tail at me instead of barking – which makes me happy)

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Anyway – we’re mostly helping out in the garden, plaiting garlic, weeding, manuring beds, and Malcolm has been helping with some future plans for a rasbberry bed. We also have been making an area for a future moss garden- what a cool concept. Google image search that for a bit of fun. Britain has nosedived out of its summer of endless rain and we’ve had a scorcher of a week, it’s been hot hot hot (though rain is still forecast for the Olympic opening weekend). We are loving the garden setup- it provides so much gorgeous organic food, the women are rostered on to help 3 hours a week in the garden, which means they also learn a  bit about gardening. They’ve only been doing this garden for 6 years, and it’s given us lots of great ideas for our one-day future garden (sigh – still a wee way off).

Moss garden beginnings…

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excellent compost from the 3 bed compost system.

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the dream poly-tunnel – tomatoes galore, peppers, cucumber, squash, asparagus and aubergines.

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We’re pretty challenged by the way the Catholic worker farm operates. They are not an institution, they are a family, a home and a community. They fight for social justice, and particularly they oppose the wars that generate the refugees they end up living alongside. They live by faith, on donations, their own hard work, and their personal savings. And they literally take people who have no where to go, and nothing to eat and give them a home – their home. At the moment, they are pretty short of hands, the thing they need most are one or two long term interns, who to stick around long enough to be involved in the day to day running of the place. Pass the word on, if anyone reading this can think of anyone who might be interested, you can guarantee it will change your outlook on life.

Written by eleanoraa

July 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm

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Santiago and Finisterre

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Santiago developed mostly because of the Camino pilgrimage route. the ornate cathedral houses  a statue of St James, and his silver coffin enclosed remains, allegedly anyway.  Rumours and myths abounded in medieval times, some of which had St James arriving in a stone boat, and riding a horse and slaying moors in the crusades. It was great having some time to poke around the town a bit, visit the pilgrim museum, some art galleries and a folk museum.

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The rather incredible and brand new Galatian arts and cultural centre

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Malcolm almost gets sucked into the book vortex

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The new museum of pilgrims with a sleeping pilgrim outside

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Saint james, in paper from a brilliant exhibition of paper saints

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Then we caught the bus out to the coast, many people walk out there to burn there shoes or some other item of clothing that has accompanied them on the pilgrimage and watch the sun set over the western edge of Europe. We didn’t leave ourselves enough time to walk, or have enough energy – but it was great to see the sea and have a day on the coat, even if the 17degree water didn’t exactly tempt us to stay in the water long.

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the zero km marker

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We have now arrived back in the UK, and  we will be volunteering with the Catholic Worker Farm for a week, before coming to hang out with Anna, and our brand new nephew Charlie, who is less than a week old as I write, and his older brother Albion, while Don is busy filming the Olympic sailing. We’re looking forward to the next few weeks….  and it is not long till we’re back in NZ now.

Written by eleanoraa

July 20, 2012 at 10:46 am

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camino primitivo to santiago compostella

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We did it!  We walked the 350 (ish) km from Oviedo, where we started, to Santiago, despite sore feet, blisters, sore muscles and a bit of a nasty cough (Amanda). Arriving at the square at the front of the Santiago cathedral, the traditional finishing point, was quite an experience- we sat in the sun with a celebratory beer and watched the other pilgrims arriving, laughing, kissing the ground, taking photos, and collapsing into exhausted heaps on the cobble stones.

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Our lovely friends, Heidi de Gier and Pim Van Der Werken walked with us, making the whole journey so much more fun – Pim, amazingly, did the whole thing in his Dr marten boots – without blisters.

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It’s hard to condense over two weeks of walking into a blog post – highlights included the 27k day crossing the hospitales route, past some old ruined pilgrim accommodation, through stony hillsides purpled with heather, and grazed on by wild horses.

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We walked in the rain through and almost fairytale forest of old millhouse, a dark stream flowing beside the path, and the ground covered in lush ferns and grasses.

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We took a day off to lounge in the sun in the tiny little town of La mesa, Malcolm brewed up some elderflower cordial and we cooked up some nettles we picked to go with dinner, and played cards wrapped in rugs till the sun went down.

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It was such a different experience to any walking we’ve done in New Zealand, it seemed strange to be able to stop for coffee or beer in the bars and shops we passed on the way, and stranger still to walk with literally thousands of other pilgrims for the last two days when we joined the camino frances. And kind of fun too, to be joining in with so many other peoples journeys.

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We gave away our tent to a young guy who had run out of money – it was a little sad saying goodbye to our ‘first home’ it served us well for a few years. We did get the unusual experience of camping inside a cloister of a old but still active monastery before we parted with our little tent.


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the monastery at Sobrado

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Camino graffiti

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Camino feet!

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Written by eleanoraa

July 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm

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Walking. It hurts my feet. It hurts my legs. The pack I carry hurts my shoulders. The hills hurt my head. . . yet I love it.  It is so good to be walking again. We have missed walking for most of the time we have travelled. Yesterday we did 4.4 km. It was Sunday – people laughed at us. On the Camino anything below 30 is an easy day. We are not that hard core. For us, anything above 20km is a big day.

We have a tent to save on acomodation – this means we also have sleeping mats, cooking gear, sleeping bags, pots, and we often carry our dinner with us. Our packs are around 12 kgs. Not bad for NZ tramping but the norm here is closer to 5kgs so we get some odd looks from other walkers. 

We are walking the camino primitivo. About 300 km from Oviedo in Austurias to Santiago, Galacia. We are about 120km into it and are starting to feel fitter. We are offloading the heavy things we dont need, like my boots, and are learning a few spanish words. “Si”. We walk through forests and farmland. through towns, hamlets, and villages. We have been eating a lot of cheese, chorizo, and bread, and drinking a bit of wine and cider (sidre) on the side. I am attempting to brew as we go and currently have a batch of elderflower cordial in the back of my pack. We went native yesterday and had fried nettles to supplement our meal. It was tasty.

We are walking with our friends Heidi and Pim from the Netherlands. It is a great way to see them again and we’ve had some fun sharing meals and playing cards together.  Pim who did approximately no training walking in his Dr Marten boots has had less trouble with his feet than the rest of us  – which is pretty funny.

At home (NZ) we often walk because we want to see things we cannot see any other way, so it is a little strange to be walking for the sake of walking. We could catch a bus to Santiago through much of the same country, and yet we (and thousands of others) walk. last year almost 200,000 people completed more than 100km of one of the many caminos leading to Sanitago.  About 3 percent of walkers walk on the path we are on (The most difficult one – the Primitivo) while about 73 percent walk the camino Frances. The last few days before we finish will be on the frances where we can expect a huge increase in the number of people.

I am tired and this is not the greatest post, but while we have internet I thought I should write.

Lots of Love to you all and Happy walking.

Written by Malcolm Rutherford

July 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm

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