Monday, January 26, 2015

Around the Bay

I wrote about going to the movie theatre a couple of blogs ago but didn't have any photos to show you. Before I visited the theatre I had the impression that it was a large room with school-type chairs put in place for the film. I couldn't have been more wrong!! I have much pleasure in presenting these pics of our Bunkhouse Theatre for your viewing pleasure :)

The most comfortable theatre seats I've sat in

Great viewing from all seats

Always a welcoming smile from Pete and Penny
The theatre shows the quirky 40 minute movie 'A Local's Tale' several times a day - well worth the $10 admission fee - there's even a popcorn machine to give you that big-city moviegoing experience.

Whilst I had the camera out I took photos of some of the other buildings on the way home...

Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi booking office

The Kiwi-French Crepery
Another booking office opposite DOC's Rakiura National Park
Visitor Centre
View down Main Road - Bunkhouse Theatre is the two-storeyed
building mid-picture

The Stewart Island Gift Shop and booking office for Ulva's Guided Walks

Dundee Street from Main Road - the motel is at the top of the rise

Sunday, January 18, 2015

4th anniversary

Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of my arrival here; how time flies when you're having fun! It was 19 January and I arrived on the 12 noon ferry and walked to my new home to start a new life that was very different to city living. I've learned so many things and had my eyes opened to the natural world around me - and still I'm discovering new things that have missed previous scrutiny.

Whilst I'm writing this blog I'm listening to the panel discussion on The Nature Principle after keynote speaker, Richard Louv's address. He suggests 'that reconnecting children and adults with nature will garner better psychological, physical and spiritual outcomes and a healthier society'. It has certainly worked for me!

Family nature clubs are growing in popularity in the US - one of which Richard said has over 1500 families. A regular outdoor outing where young and old alike can be aware of their surroundings and feel the rain on their face or the wind in their hair; where awareness of other species stimulates curiosity and a caring attitude; we are all connected but why have we chosen to ignore it?

This is also my 250th blog and I thank you for following my journey by reading my blog. I often feel that one person's message is futile and won't stop the destruction of habitat or our disconnection from the natural world but your comments and encouragement give me renewed hope that we can include Mother Nature in our lives and help us to feel part of, and responsible for, our wonderful environment.

After a few weeks of warmer weather, my garden has started to bear fruit. Here's some pics taken this morning before the rain came...

Currants and rhubarb are growing well
A good crop of intense-tasting blackcurrants

White currants
NZ cranberry (aka Chilean guava), Ugni molinae, flowers - they'll be ready
for picking around April. My only fear is that they may become a weed
here along with Chilean gunnera, Chilean Flame Creeper and everything
else prefaced by 'Chilean'
Inside the shade house - the potatoes at the back are ready to bandicoot
I recently repotted the apple tree (left) which grew
from a pip that had sprouted inside the apple!

A thriving wineberry that is growing out of the compost bin - I know it
needs cutting out but I feel mean to condemn it

I have native fuchsia seedlings by the dozen around the berry patch - they
need to be transferred somewhere else before they get too big

Non-tactile buying

A trade-off living on this beautiful island is the difficulty in buying items that I really need to touch; buying a new fridge is one of these and I've struggled to translate internet photos into the 'living' thing. It's so much easier to visit appliance shops and check the fridges on display; the brain instantly registering sizes and layout, something that doesn't happen for me with online shopping. Last week the freezer on my 20 year old Kelvinator had trouble keeping foods frozen and it no longer feels 'cold' when I open the door.

My current Kelvinator fridge/freezer (191L fridge, 57L freezer)
Jed the Electrician is based on the island and fixes Fisher & Paykel gear so I asked him to check it out. There's no obvious reason for its demise (eg dead fan) but he said that it could be running low on coolant gas which cannot be fixed. Time for a new one methinks.

So, on to the internet and a google search for 'nz fridge freezer' brought up several options. Electricity is expensive here so didn't want to go large; ideally the same size fridge but with a bigger freezer. I thought I had found just the thing when I saw the F&P E240BRWW...

F&P 240 litre model

This is a 240L model with a bigger 110L freezer, twice as large as my current one. I know I should have put two and two together to realise that would mean that the fridge would be considerably less but I didn't twig until I found a photo showing the inside and realised that the fridge part was tiny; 60L less than my current one...

Inside of F&P E240BRWW
I'm not restricted to height where my old fridge is but Jed advised against my current habit of turning the mains off at night as it would interfere with the 24 hour internal clock that the modern fridges have. This is a problem as the fridge is close to my bed and it's a noisy beast when the motor is running. If I put the new fridge in the far corner then it has to be below 1600mm tall to fit underneath the switchboard.

The new fridge spot?
I wanted to avoid using this space as had plans to put a drawer unit in but unless the new fridge is very very quiet I think I'll sleep better with it being further away. There were no F&P models that had the right sized fridge/freezer combination and in the end I've opted for the F&P E372BRT4...

250L fridge and 123L freezer
This is the only other larger fridge/freezer that I could find that was under 1600mm tall - I guess most houses are built to standard sizes but I thought I'd find a few more options than I did. My new purchase does have a 2.5 Energy Star rating with energy usage at 455kWh/yr - at a guess it's probably about the same as my inefficient smaller fridge but I would have liked to tried out the 298L Beko CN-228130 (3 Star, 360kWh/yr but 1754mm high) or the Miele range (3 Star rating but well out of my budget range). The EECA/Energy Star website has some great tools to compare the energy use of different models and I'm sure that my new fridge will cost more in the long run but means that there is an island-based electrician that can service it if needed.

I've had to move the stuff I stored in the corner so need to find new homes for a swag of DVDs and CDs, my bulk flour/sugar containers and a shelf of spices. I'm wondering if I can use my unplugged old fridge for some stuff when it's cleaned and dried thoroughly - I may have to drill some ventilation holes in it but it would save it going to landfill.

The fridge was ordered on Thursday but I have no idea when it will arrive. I guess it will be coming on the freight ferry which doesn't run in rough seas. Jed is going to do the pickup off the ferry and install it for me and then I can make better use of garden produce and grocery specials to fill the freezer.

Yesterday's Southland Times had a rather depressing article on the proposed 10yr island power plan that would see prices rise from 58c/unit to 76c/unit and with the monthly supply charge increasing from its current $87.55/mth to $116.97/mth by 2025 if it's adopted. The increases will cover costs for three replacement generators and stricter environmental regulations for fuel tanks; no doubt the actual prices will still be at the whims and fancies of diesel price increases.

I'm pretty sure that units are equivalent to kWh so my new fridge will cost around $260 a year this year but $345 a year in 2025. Work out your appliance usage using this calculator on the Energywise website although it's set at the unit price that most people pay of 26c - I wish!!!

Welcome rain

Our island paradise has been bathed in sunshine for most of this year and we've had very little rain. Most households and tramping/hunting huts, are dependent on rainwater so it's with a sigh of relief when we finally get rain after a long dry spell. The ngahere (bush) also welcomes the rain, and judging by the display I witnessed yesterday, the birds were hanging out for it too!

Thursday and Friday were fine and windy with a wee dribble of rain overnight; rain was forecast for Saturday morning but that dawned fine and calm and got increasingly more humid through the day. It was hot working in the shop, especially on checkout duty with the pie-warmer at your back. A few spits of rain came mid-afternoon but most evaporated before it hit the ground. I got home at 4pm and smiled when proper rain finally set in and started watering the garden for me.

I was heading out again for dinner and then off to the Bunkhouse Theatre to see a New Zealand independent feature film called 'Sunday' so needed to put on leggings and raincoat for my walk back to the Bay. Just down from the airstrip turnoff several bedraggled kereru were perched on the power lines and revelling in the rain - a chaotic ballet of trying to roll their bodies to the moisture accompanied by wing extension and teetering to maintain their balance.

Looking up Main Road from Whipp Place - only 4 driveways and
12 minutes walking before I'm home
The 70 minute self-financed movie was great and I'm keen to buy the DVD as it captures perfectly the shattering and rebuilding, both on city-wide and personal levels; check out the trailer or watch the film online and support the Christchurch community with their creative endeavours. I visited Christchurch in December 2011, about the time the movie was made, so many of the areas depicted in the movie were my memories too. Beautifully shot and high fives to all those involved - please do a sequel!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Other summer flowering orchids

The sun orchids are the most visible of the summer flowering orchids but if you look closely then you'll see a number of other orchids including these Aporostylis or odd-leaved orchid.

A clump of Aporostylis bifolia - a small orchid with one large and one
small leaf

There's a colony of Chiloglottis cornuta, or green bird orchid, on my boundary track - it's in a dense clump about a metre square...

Another interesting orchid are the two species of Microtis or onion orchid. Microtis oligantha is small with a few sparse flowers; Microtis unifolia is much larger (15-35cm) with many flowers crammed together. I have many Microtis unifolia growing amongst the grass and always feel guilty when I get them when cutting the grass.

Microtis unifolia
There are still a few Pterostylis (greenhood orchids) in flower - I saw this beauty the other day...

...but most of the early flowering orchids have shrivelled flowers and swelling ovaries like this spider orchid...

After a week or so, the swollen ovary gets pushed up high as the stem grows - I wonder if this is so the seed is spread as far as possible?

Elongated stem on left hand side

Thelymitra - sun orchids

I have a backlog of orchid pics; I try to identify them first but sometimes the flowers haven't opened which makes it trickier to understand the written description - a picture is definitely worth a thousand words! I then wait for the flowers to open but by then have taken photos of other things to write about so get even further behind.

At present it's the turn of Thelymitra (sun orchid), Aporostylis (odd-leaved orchid), Microtis (onion orchid), Chiloglottis (green bird orchid), Caladenia (white and pink orchid), Gastrodia (black orchid) and Winika (lady's slipper orchid).

A clump of Thelymitra (sun orchids) on a road-side bank
Sun orchid - swelling flower buds

Partially opened sun orchid

Thelymitra venosa (veined sun orchid)

I think this is Thelymitra hatchii (blue sun orchid)

Close-up of T.hatchii flower centre - Hugh Wilson states that the
flower centre is distinctive for each of the 12 species found in NZ.
There are 4 species of Thelymitra on Stewart Island.

Another view of Thelymitra hatchii
The white sun orchid, Thelymitra longifolia

I think this is Thelymitra pulchella
There are masses of sun orchids on some roadside banks on Back Road - they must like living here as much as I do :)