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The gate is a prayer retreat center in Otaki Forks, New Zealand
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Dam track closure to the public except for the emergency track access

We have made the decision that the Dam site and track are closed to the public due to concerns about our responsibility under the Health and Safety Act of 2015, as from September 26, 2022. This means that only the portion of the track that is being used by the Emergency track under DOC’s request is available to walk to experience the amazing heritage forest. We find this a hard decision as we have such an amazing area of Heritage Forest but liability falls back on us and the Deborah Charitable Trust is anything untoward happens. Signage is being changed to reflect the change. .Pest control work will still go on monthly.

Many have taken the opportunity to view the overflowing spillway and enjoy the opportunity to see creeks flowing , heard bird sounds, found the variety of native trees and plants amazing so there’s many a memory that has been made with photos included.

You can be thankful with us that this piece of Heritage Forest has been preserved and protected for years to come.

David and Kathleen Campbell, trustees of The Gate.

Spring sure has it’s daily changes

A new sense of warmth coming hasn’t lasted. The seeds I planted a few weeks back have really been unsuccessful in germinating. The hens’ are starting to go to cluck more so the cage has proved useful for a few days. One of the Moscovies has started to sit on eggs? how many but who knows if the new drake has been doing his thing until 5 weeks have passed.

What a focus pest control has been this month with the Papa Taiao Earth Care course here which was a highlght for me with young people introduced to a new skill and they were a great gift to us with their willingness to learn, relate and go bush. This has been followed by a group of cubs from Levin spent yesterday morning helping put out the D Rat traps I have had in storage for many months. It was a delight to have this blitz on the area across the Pukeatua… monitoring for birds, weta motels to go out and Flipping Timms possum traps to be checked that I put out in the afternoon. There offer of hours became 2 but these 8-10 year olds made a difference, willing carrying and putting up traps on 2 levels… yes they had been divided into 2 groups, upper and lower levels.

It’s amazing how an extra helper can get extras done.. The door on the shed across the slip how swings shut with it being taken off hinges and planed to fit, then painted after it being jammed for weeks. There’s opportunity to more with spring growth happening. Sean has erected a frame to go over the blueberries, now for a bird netting cover. The gift of helps has really encouraged me who has done a lot of the tasks outside that don’t need a chainsaw or secuters that David uses.

THe sign saying road closed,, the metal stand and 7 cones that have sat on the road are now over the other side of the slip… man handled over with help from a passing traveller who had been training for the ironman event. In the house is a monitor connected to sensors on the slip and the messages being relayed via cellphone connectionj to Petone. Also a rain guage sits on the toilet block roof for more accurate recordings???? to the ones David has been making. So for how long? A year?

How amazing that we were directed to purchase the property all those years ago without any knowledge about trees, birds, insects, pests and how we would build a place where people could connect with God the creator and lover of them. We are amazed how much we have learned and developed, and are still learning and being challenged by. We look forward to see what the summer brings.

birthday greetings for me… spring has come

We woke September 1st to another slip blocking the road between the house and the large slip with lots of vegetation over the road and lots of water running from the exposed spring. It took David and I about an hour to get it cleared using saw, looper, chainsaw and sectures…. a passerby asked if we were volunteers or paid to do this… my reply ” We live here” for me it was a needed as i was planning to leave to go to Otaki for a workshop on grants put on by KCDC… made it but late > need to get my paper work into action for a Heritage Fund grant this year but there are other possibilites to consider now.

Visitors are coming here with more fine days and spring is in the air. 3 of the out buildings are occupied and the cooking caravan has had the ceiling stripped as it was sodden… leak or condensationnthe cause. Looks like a carport type shed would need to be erected over it to protect it for future as the roof has sunk in places pooling water. We are sure getting ideas to heat the outbuildings… more power options and also the possiblity of a small heater in each but what is best?

more walkers on the track to dam… some for times of prayer and reflection, others to enjoy the bush, waterfall and walk. a great time to hear birds again.

There is a good activity of pest control learning with Papataoa to get NCA credits. The first group in 2 years so quite a lot action which is great…we enjoy having the younger generation here again.

A new garden area has been prepared and fenced off with windbreak and a cover being prepared for the berry area so that’s a step forward and gives new possibliities.

Helicopters are a life line… 5 loads bought here and 2 out…. bird food, groceries, sawdust, potting mix and horse poos made up some of the loads. Great thankfulness I have for this service.

So many ways we can exepress our thanks… sure brings new songs to mind…Praises to God for me, freely given. And the peace in this place is amazing

rain and recordings

Like many the rain has been steady and very wetting with indoor activities affoot. TIdy the garage, do the accounts and plant seeds are some of the activities to fill our day. It is amazing that we have lived through another week of no generator functioning… even candlelight dinners by necessity as the power in the batteries decreased by the day even when there was no use it seemed. Well that was fixed through another visit by the diesel mechanic, this time it was identifying that petrol had been put into the diesel container and therefore was in the fuel tank. It sure caased the generator to malfunction. Back into better action with the batteries now fuller, fridge and lights on.

A trip to the hills to do some track work this past week before the predicted rain found the lost rope… it had been cut off just out of sight up the steep track, so we replaced it with something less obvious. Trees were trimmed to make it easier to walk to the remote hut instead of bending down trying to get under them with a backpack on. A good job taking some more tunnels and traps to the Remote Hut track too . Used the frame backpack to carry them downhill in to postion by not all put on trees as planned as we realised it was 1 pm and were expecting visitors from WSP ( an engineering firm that is checking the slip area) . They arrrived to see if they could place a monitor to send a signal from sensors to be placed on the slip area to monitor movement plus rain recordings… these are yet to be installed and the whole area kept under survailence rather than just a visual check.

3 extras living here… sure makes a difference with help available, meals and company. It is great to have this support. Another helicopter airlift is planned so I have been thinking of sawdust .. can only airlift 300 kg for the small one and 600 for the next sized one…..so I will need to move some to wool sacks I think to get it here. Thoughts of bagging up horse manure is also in the plan. Plenty of ideas but the rain as stopped plans and play!

I look our on the flower bed infront of our small lounge… great to have the daffodils and pansies there.. I purchased a few more flower seeds, apple and hazelnut trees (which I will plant in evergrow bags.), yet to be delivered. A small heated plant raising plant I have had delivered… oh to get some early seeds into that. It takes power so I am glad that we are on track with power generation again. I have many prunings from apple trees to graft when trees start to shoot leaves again… I thought a new thing for me to do with putting some of the apple types on different trees. I am hopeful of getting some pruning tape. It’s amazing how one gets inspired during sunny weather. which we had not long ago for a week.

And so our story goes on… 23 months behind the locked gate, adapting to this different life. Glad to say it hasn’t been too difficult to get out…Yet I need a freezer to put some wool in to kill moth eggs.as I checked by spinning wool in the roof and here was evidence of a pesky visitor, as yet not treated with the cold because I haven’t found a place close by yet with a chest freezer that has the space.

Until I take time again…It is a place of peace, enjoyable and challenging in many ways. Glad that we have a sense of God with us here.

Winter is here!

Snow can be seen on Mount Hector from the road away from the gorge but we can feel the cold ” jet stream” in the mornings. It has been damper than usual as no sun to dry the ground. In fact we have had an adventure with the generator not functioning so we had now power with there being nothing coming in via the solar panels. Sure an adventure so candle light meals, using head torches and of course early to bed. It sure needed a check and some replacement parts which took a bit of locating. but the job is done… even though a hickup this past weekend, possibly water in the fuel. Replaced and now it’s running ‘like a dream.’
I went out and purchased new head lamps and more candles and even a flint as I wasn’t wanting to be caught without a backup… may be a bit of an overkill but sure was a new expereince for us. The batteries may be needing changing in the future too so we need to keep maintaining what we have to keep it functioning.

The pest control work keeps me in the bush … a great place to be with tomtits a calling again, an bell bird’s warning as I pass. The walk to the dam last week was a time to clean drains/waterchannels and do the pest control work. I hung a few more weta motels but I can only carry a certain amount of gear in my backpack as I head up the hill.

Walking the slip area is so different with the steps so that I can feel confident going by myself and at night although I stayed out in Otaki last Wednesday night after my first visit to the local Buzz club in many months. Still we wait for the helicopter airlift being organised by DOC… could it be August? I have been ordering the stuff from Farmlands and I am getting to the stage of needing more hen food so that’s becoming a need. Do we carry the bags on our backs.. 20-25 kg with the new framed backpack designed for that purpose made by Tetonka the maker of our packs. So with the news in the paper about years before the road may be open we are believing for God to show up here as he must have a purpose for this place in having people walk through to the forest park

I have been wondering about assisting campers… bikes? trolleys? carts? all could be helpful to bring gear in but just how to work it out is something that I have yet to develop. The water supply is used at the gate, especially on sunnier weekends. It’s good to see the place enjoyed again and so we meet people who also enjoy the area for walking, tramping, running and hunting…. some of course passing quickly on their bikes. Glad to have this opportunity to develop ways of connecting.

How do we spend our days? walking, doing work around the house and garden with pruning, although I wait for the return of the repaired mulcher to do some of the bigger ones; feeding birds, pest control somewhere on the property each week, paper work and planning purchases, new projects including planting up native seedlings, replacing the thorned boysenberry with a thornless one. and so the list goes on with no day the same. Of course keeping up the firewood supplies to the house for heating and cooking…a necessity at this time of year morning and evening.

Enough of a ramble … join us sometime, you would be most welcome to call in.

the walkway is finished and amazing

Over the past weeks a team of absailers and builders have worked on the slip site removing big stones from above the track that has been made over the area in the past 6 months. It’s now safer to walk with formed steps, a long orange absailing rope that extends from one side to the other attached at various points. The walk feels so much safer so that we have been out and in at night with our head lamps catching the steps clearly. There is a boardwalk/bridge in the central portion that was most difficult to walk because it was changing with every rain. So as we are close to 22 months behind the locked gate, with as it was reported in the local paper no plans to be repaired in the next 2 years, nothing decided yet. …

A new backpack with just a frame ( another Tetonka type) so that it easier to bring in boxes and the gas bottles. It is amazing to have help with bringing food and supplies here. Not many stayers but occasional visitors.

We have had the small hut moved from close to the gate to the eastern edge of the springs paddock parking area using the large wheeled digger to pull it into position and then balance it. Great for storage and changing although I find myself keeping my rain gear and boots on until we have exited the gate. The gate 500 m from where we park has been reconfigured to make a passageway for walkers who have been welcomed into the area via the local newspapers with a photo of the area. We have been told the slip area isn’t stable, in fact the central area is causing some concern. But that’s our entrance/exit so we need to be observant and watchful.

How are we managing? with difficulty this week with the generator malfunctioning so that there was no power backup on the cloudy days. This meant the frozen food needed to go somewhere else and the contents of the fridge outside the door in the carport. An interesting situation and pressure, I can’t say I handled it well. We are grateful that a friend is coming to do some maintanence work on the generator so that things get back into order. Pressures increase when we can’t find the relevant documents and have difficulty locating the appropriate parts.

Back in the garden…. it’s pruning time and I have decided to purchase thornless boysenbetry plants after trying to prune out existing plants which didn’t produce much this past season. Keeping birds out of the vege patch is a challenge both chicken and blackbirds. It has been time to have some colour so I have extended the flower beds with cardboard and mulch so there’s now some violets, flock, polyanthus and emerging bulbs beginning to make there appearance and colours have come. It looks better too. Planting seeks will begin soon, pototoes now being encouraged to sprout. More strawberry plants in tyres close to the blueberry bushes and now some growbags to put some trees in.

Pests keep being caught…mostly rats but a stoat was caught within 300 m of the house in one of the DOC 200 traps. It’s a good reason to be outdoors although I did find recently one of my ropes to support my climb up one of the ridges has been moved/removed?

There’s plenty to keep us active, many things giving a purpose for each day.

So there we are again and I am glad it’s Friday… a rest day tomorrow.

yahoo… work on the slip access planned

Yahoo…. Thursday last week the helicopter drop happened bringing 4 loads from the spring’s paddock and taking the mulcher from here plus rubbish and a spinning wheel. Loads included groceries in bags, bird food, milk powder 25kg, wood, sheep poo and pineneedles, gas bottles and diesel…a great help for I have collected the stuff over a number of weeks waiting for the day.

Yahoo… a shelter to change in. After walking from home it’s somewhere to change out of boots and rain gear to town clothes. We purchased a hut from Bailie Homes Ltd in Otaki and it arrived the time the helicopter was there with trouble getting into the parking area by the truck so he finally backed in and lifted it over the fence/hedge of trees to locate it by the gateway. It can be moved by helicopter if we want when JD is in the area for the DOC work.

Yahoo… there is a plan to dislodge large stones from the slip face and made a wider track with formed steps and a secure rope to assist us on our journey started possibly Wednesday… over the next couple of weeks with 2 people with radio contact with the workers so we can go over safely during working hours.

Yahoo…the drinks trolley was flown in so now i need to get a roof over the top. ? have hot drinks .. at least everything will be under cover soon. A plan to have it ready for winter. Maybe I can offer drinks in the house….

The fejoia season is still on… time to cook some more today to bottle. 2 lots of chutney has been made.

Finally I have been able to access the website again

What a learning curve… dismiss the request to pay discount domains their fee and then no access until it’s all sorted which has been quite a journey.

We are living in an isolated place with many opportunities to see people who pass, some calling in to say hi. It’s been 19 1/2 months of road closure with the challenges of getting supplies here which was made more difficult by the fall on December 9th 2021. We live with isolation but vegetable gardens, ducks and a warm house with firewood and all the extras to keep us occupied. It has been an interesting journey with new back packs to bring supplies here plus the occasional helicopter lift of supplies that have been stockpiled on the otaki side of the slip on the piece of land we call the ‘springs paddock’. What a life!

We are getting rain which changes things around here with needing the generator more and the boiler to head the water on sunless days. Great to have the opportunity to keep living here with the support of people we have come to stay. It has been great using the hot house with tomatoes still ripening and greens at an eatible stage. We are also having duck for occasional meals, with more in the future. The fejoias have been plentiful so there’s a few bottles preserved for future use, plus extras given like quinces and pears. It’s amazing to see how there is abundance here.

I have been thinking a bit more colour in the garden would be welcome with most of the flowers gone…more bulbs perhaps, daisies and other coloured plants now the dahilas are finished and the other annuals have died down. A thought of rearranging some of the beds with more flowers is appealing but of course it takes a bit of work. I have been recycling the potting mix by adding compost, manure and lime on a tarpaulin so I can reuse it… all good and ready for plants I have now in punnets waiting for planting… Some garlic planted!

until next time

Updating the challenges after the change with the road blockage

We have found it’s preferable to have a 2 minute helicopter ride to walking with difficulty for 2 1/2 hours that we did on Boxing day as David found it very difficult coming down the old emergency track… we are not as agile and young as we were 5 years ago, especially him after a year with 3 surgeries. The option was to walk so we needed to test it out but not again. We couldn’t get into the forest so no car available so that made it clear we needed to risk life and limb.. we did and arrived home.

So life goes on at home.. it’s raining again today so taking a bit of a break from outside work with the garden and pest control work calling after we spent a week away in Wellington and more before coming back. Extra supplies were obtained and so that meant it was a full helicopter for me ( Kathleen) and that’s got to keep us for a while as there’s no planned schedule for this again. David walked home with the thought he wouldn’t do it again. It is an evolving story for us coordinating with the forest owner re the lock on the gate.

I made attempt to have shelving for my preserves using various pieces of wood and screwed together. It was good to have a creative project completed. There was a good amount for the job. I know that there are other jobs to do and will have to see if we have the resources. The garden needs a new amount of work with a growth from all the rain, all 400 mils in December. The bees are finding that the trees have flowered during the rainy time, so not much honey in storage this year but both hives are going ok.

an ongoing journey

After 3 days of resting after such a big change in our lives I have spend today outdoors, mostly in the garden covering blue berries, removing seed heads to dry of russian kale and mustard, plus cleaning out the composting toilet and also putting a sheet of metal above the door of the sleeping container.. Great to have a helper cutting grass with lawnmower and stimmer and giving a hand when needed.

More rain is expected and we haven’t got a clear understanding of the transport needs being met with the local helicopter being serviced in Nelson so one is being arranged from Caterton if the weather is suitable to take us out to our car on Wednesday so David can have his checkuip at Palmerston North Hospital. We live in different times… the backpacks have come out of storage, so we need to think about what we need to take over to the car for our return journey or buy while out of here.

We have had thoughts of vehicles and accommodation if we are out for an evening so as not to be travelling in the bush in the dark over the next months. A caravan, yurt or hut with a source of heat…a 4 wheeled drive for the forest road, and of course other things will come to mind. It will be a time of being dependant on friends for sure, one to continue to collect things couriered or stored, the occasional night staying out. it feels a bit surreal at present with knowing we have about 1.5 km to walk to get to the top of the ridge above the house.

It’s still and sticky.. the sky is dark with heavy clouds but no rain yet but 40 ml predicted in the next couple of days. .

I will keep you posted as the days go on. I am reminded as I read God’s word that I am not to be anxious and to ask God for our needs to be me and wait expectantly for an answer. Kathleen