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The gate is a prayer retreat center in Otaki Forks, New Zealand
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Autumn turning into winter

The garden and trees show how quickly the change has come, The river rising and falling with the various amounts of rain make for an interest as we walk over the slip. The feijoas have been prolific this year with us still harvesting them to turn into jam, pickle, bottled fruit and dehyrated tastes for the months ahead. Of course there are many that have headed out to others to share.

Killing rats with traps and bait continue with the most recent one in the car on the floor which we saw climbing through the various pipes and wires heading inside after we left. Sure interesting with the situation that we face each autumn and winter as they head to warmer space. It’s good to catch them before damage occurs within spaces for nesting.

Evenings come early so the shorter days mean a different style of life. Fire in the rayburn warms the kitchen, cooking some of our tea tonight. Then the boiler to heat water for dishes and showers, and of course to be put into the floor for heating. Some of the amazing results of the planning of years ago. It’s helpful to have the wood sorted, dry and split. We are grateful for the storage areas we have.

Prunings have continued with some mulching and of course the areas looking rather bare with the knowledge that it will leaf up again the coming weeks. The berry area is looking great with pruning done and area mulched. A volunteer group are heading into the area to clear the Pukeatua Track so we will help with transport, using the carts or quad…to carry chainsaws and food.

The great opportunity for us to go to Shifiting the Nation through prayer conference in Wellington last week. It was a great gift that we had the chance to stay away with another living here with the willingness to watch the systems and keep the hens and ducks happy.

So we look forward to the days ahead with anticipation knowing we have always had help we need including the requested airlift, we haven’t had one since December 2022.

Is this property a host to long tailed bats?

This is a question I have long wondered with an attempt a few years ago to get some monitors from DOC but nothing came of it. But now, a desire of my heart fulfilled, there are 5 monitors spaced around the property with 2 at this end of the dam track and 3 close to the dam. All installed over the last few days of April 2023 and to be collected next week to be returned to the team from the Wairarapa that have loaned them to us via Jim O’Malley. What a great sense of being satisfied with all the walking I did on Saturday to put them up in trees if we find there are some here. It’s a waiting game.

Autum has proved still and fairly warm with feijoas falling of the trees for eating, dehydrating, making into chutmey and preserving. It’s a great gift to have enough to share with others. The mammoth variety is come ready now so they are a handful and tasty.

Rats and mice are about… great to catch them. Yesterday we were at Supercheap auto and found out that not only have they eaten wires in our car, polystyrene and left poos about they like to sit on the air filter and so out that came and into the car went rat bait. They simply like our car.

Preparing for a helicopter airlift is slow this time as I am waiting on some stainless steel DOC 200 traps to replace the galvanised ones I have worked with .. it’s time to improve what I have. Bring those plus possum traps, rat traps and bait with other goods and fly out the dismantled plastic house for repairs.

It;s also time to improve the garden fences, removing all the self sewn trees like mahoe and robusta…. they take over and so it’s a good move but a workout. I thereore need to keep the hare out of the garden area of make a way to protect vulnerable plants.

keep healthy is the key and of course warm and dry with the predicted rain of this week.

autumn beauty

Misty hill after a day of rain

A bucket a day of fejoias to pick up from under the trees

time to preserve with bottles and jars

Yes it’s a good time to harvest at last.

We are happy to have the garden under cover

from whatever eats the leaves and the plants

Elephant garlic and broad beans are in the ground

some lettuce in the hothouse abound.

So autumn brings work of pruning again

mulching and compost making to prepare for the spring

horse manure, cut leaves and mulch

piled up to rot and heat up.

So we prepare for winter witih pickles and jams

bottled fruit and other preserves using the dehydratator

When theirs sun about or the reburn in on

For gas needs to be carried over the slip when it runs out.

It’s been a time for visitors, friends from the past

coming to stay and share our life again

Plus the extras that live here helping us out

makes life interesting giving support for extra tasks.

A few thoughts on a wet indoors type of day with time to catch up with jam making, preserving and other internet tasks after a very full day preparing for the rain to come with drainage improved on the dam track and the garden planting done.

The roar- can you hear it? can you recognise it?

So many sounds around here with the river running high and the goats that frequent the slopes across the river. Now the sounds of the stags roaring come through the air occasionally. An amazing sound luring hunters on bikes heading with guns poked out of their packs, heading into the forest park for a couple of days. Autumn surely is upon us made more certain with the daylight savings change recently.

Opportnuties about for autuam clean up with pruning, weeding and vegetation cutting back. It is good to have apples to harvest and preserve, now the fejoias and passionfruit are dropping regularly. There is a dampness about with recent rains so I need to make sure the access over the slip is clear of green stuff that drops water as we pass.

Bolettes have been added to our diet, collected from beneath the pine trees on the road edge and in the neighbours. They are quite tasty. Plus the unmature pumpkins chopped up for veges, the odd bit of brocolli and plenty of spinach and silverbeet beneath the covers to keep sparrows away. There is a pesky hare that has attacked various plants and I found a 1/2 eaten apple from the tree in the front of the house.

Visitors bring colour to our world with the various conversations that we have. One bought some wood left over from a job and that helped with my making another shelf in the pantry… long planned for. Help is often coming at amazing times. Pineapple carried by one visitor became a meal the next day with a big bag of grapes given by the woman who willing took 3 female ducks and the drake on Monday as I have downsized my flock for over winter. The extra young males were culled for food. for us and 4 went to the local animal santuary.

that;s a taste if the life… if you want any natiive trees call by.. take from the ones which are on trolleys at the gate as have others, saves me work. and can go to a good home. See you some day soon. Kathleen

Great place the local bush

I have had reason to spend more time in the bush on the property….today it was checking traps on the emergency tracks and a side track.. tuis, bellbird, tomtits, greywarblers, Piwakawaka , Karerera, waxeyes and more sounds in the areas where I walked and worked with occasional stops to listen. It seemed like a busy time with lots of sounds and sightings. I had done a bird montoring walk last week but there didn’t seem to be so many that day.

Autumn came with that cold spell.. fire on in kitchen was an invitation to preserve apples and rhubarb for the future. At the moment there is just the 2 of us. I have plans to reduce the number of ducks…4 drakes went to the Black Sheep santuary with the comment you will stop breeding won’t you so you don’t need to do this again… all because a guest plead for their lives to be spared the day I was doing to do the deed of killing them. I have offered the drake and 3 females to a local orchardist so that reduces the number to be fed and so reducing the pressure to buy and transport the food bags. We have been carrying 10 kgs over at a time to keep supplies up ( !/2 a bag)

We wait on Kapiti Coast District Councilors making a decision… probably pushed out to May or June as engineers have gone to the damaged areas of the East Coast. Another visit has been offered the Councillors late April. We are aware of the changes in the centre of the slip with the bridge being on a bit of a lean and some of the material on the path subsiding. We understand that KCDC can’t get workers on the slip because they only deal with roads so I have been there with the hedge trimmer recently and with a guest’s help we removed the extra gravel from the steps on the Otaki side. This means the slip area is not officially opened with more signage deterring access. Mind you hunters are heading in as this is the ROAR…stags acalling. Plus trampers and day walkers.

Bother the rats… they have eaten wires in the car affecting the ABS and the braking system, fixed today at a cost. I put out bait again in that area plus setting traps. What an ongoing job. The mice have headed inside the garage, with one slipping under door as I watched, plus in the cooking caravan…Traps are amazing…then they go as bait/lure in the DOC traps. I get my exercise doing the track rounds…with an extra putting out more weta motels and traps on the Pukeatua Stream track. So the work goes on with a Heritage Fund grant to buy rat and possum traps, bait and stainless steel DOC 200 traps to replace the galvanised ones that are rusty and difficult to set. It was amazing meeting a local who lives across the river at the TrapNZ tent when I visited the Central District field day with a friend. It opened a conversation about how to update my trapnz app with a suggestion that her nephew may be able to help me. He has been looking for pigs and has done some work on the property moving traps for me. What a gift.

Clucky hens.. I got some eggs from a friend with the result that 2 out of 5 and then 1 out of 5 hatched. She said it was possibly because the rooster was smaller than her black orpington hens. A journey of fun.

A good crop of apples means i have been able to store some wrapped in paper in the old bee boxes that I have put a bottom on. It will be the fejoias soon… one tree in particular is laden. To have tree ripened apples is amazing, so sweet.

The Koha carts have been well used in the past new moon to new moon by a group of people coming and going to stay in the forest park about 1 1/2 hours walk from here. They carried bedding, food and such to the end of the road. David helped carry one participate in the quad trailer who had been carried on a man’s back over the slip who uses a wheel chair. We visited the camp site one Sunday for the first meal of the day and stayed on to take part in a talking stick round. These Rainbow people stayed in tents or under tarps, had 2 meals a day, washed in the river, enjoyed the sun and one made a pizza oven with sand/clay and grass mixture that cooked pizzas we were told. We had some interesting coversations and were glad we were here for this experience.

Autumn has arrived with all the changes ahead

As we look around it’s clear it’s time to harvest the apples, corn grown for the first time, ripening tomatoes and plan for the pruning that we do at this time with the mulching and wood cutting of branches. There are changes as one person who stayed here for 6 months has left because he doesn’t want to have a cold winter here, another is away for a few weeks. Yet we look around at all that has been improved and maintained and are grateful for the help we have had. The old leaking caravan is covered, the inside struts replaced and a portion built over the outside sink.

We are meeting many who pass by, the water containers have been filled many times and daily there are cups to remove and replace. It is good to have that connection point, a place for conversation with passersby. The carts have been used, especially in the past weeks with rainbow gathering in the park where people from the NZ and the nations have come to camp and share life together. We visited one Sunday and arrived before the first meal of the day cooked by some and shared in a group circle around the fire that never goes out. We took about 1 1/2 hours to walk each way going into a part of the Tararua Forest Park I hadn’t been before. That was a good day. With their donations these people have helped recoup the cost of 2 carts and there are 4 bikes sheltering under the cart shelter. All food, bedding and tents/ taupaulins have gone in on backs or with carts. David offered to take one particpant on the quad trailer as he is wheel chair bound and had been carried over the slip by 2 able guys. What a good spell of weather, although 2 that were leaving said they had to wait 5 hours for the river to go down after 16 ml of rain. We had one many call in to the house after reading the sign that I made and erected at the gateway.. The Gate, A Place to Pray, Kuwaha ki te Rangi… when the Place to Pray stood out as he passed by. That ended up being about 2 hours of sharing with him and his son.

lIfe includes having 2 hens sitting of 5 eggs each. Ducklings becoming the age of being food for us. What an interesting journey as we prepare for a helicopter drop for this or do we backpack what we need in smaller lots? It seems be don’t have much to bring in after the big effort of getting materials ready for the DOC airlift at the end of last year.

It’s a joy to go bush doing the pest control. I found that the winds of Cyclone Gabriel pushed down a few trees and branches but tracks are passible. No rain damage so we were spared. I feel for those who are isolated by slips, a long haul ahead for many with so many areas being affected in many parts of the nation that the Waka Kotahi finances for our road reopening is likely to be used elsewhere. So continues our story as we wait the KCDC councillors vote in April with all the discussions and possibilities involved. Watch this space!

We have hosted people over the months… recently a woman from Germany who we meet when she was in the forest park when the road was closed in 2016. A great gift seeing people again. A second hand bell tent was a great place for one visitor…on the flat area above the house where the sheep paddocks were. close to the generator shed. Now packed away as the wet weather comes again

So keep writing… something to focus on with the daily activities, people and situations we have experienced here. So that’s what I plan to do more of.

Changes continue

What a great dose of heat and sun with the need to regulate what we did during the heat of the day. A good time to work in the garage and carport. It was a big decision to clean out the frames and burn the frames of the 2 hives as they had been robbed out ( all honey gone), with a bad dose of varoa mite damage and sac brood. I looked at the frames and thought I had American Foulbrood but with a further check from an expert we decided to burn the frames and keep the other parts of the hives. So no honey for me this year from here and no hives to care for. A decision about having a new hive needs to be made as a commerical beekeeper 500 m away will give me 2 new splits If I can get them here… with the need to treat more to keep the varoa mite population reduced.

A couple of nights in the bell tent have been good.. hearing birds and the rain from 3 am today. A bit more work to be done to keep the grass around it trimmed with the weed eater which is away for a service at the moment.

Lots of people walking to and fro. One walker said” I could have kissed you” when she saw the water stand. People from various parts of NZ and overseas. There have been 2 trolley’s use and only 3 tents in the camping area DOC prepared so bit of a slow start to the summer.

I had my first swim of the season only to find a black thing beside me in the water.. sure got out quickly to look back and see an eal weaving it’s way along the river bottom. Enough excitement fot one day.

The year ends with a warm windy days with cloudless skies.

Moaning, scraping, scratching and goans accompany me as I walked the emergency tracks doing the last run of pest control for 2022. A number of dead dried rats greet me, particulary gross are the long haired ones that seem to frequent our bush. It’s good to be in the trees with the sun beating down, shady and refreshing. I did wonder who was moving in the trees at one point to realise what a lot of noise one rolling rock can make moving through leaves and bushes.

The 10 trolleys are assembled, advertised locally through facebook and on the locked gate for campers to use. One has been away for a couple of days. I wonder if other’s will be used in the weeks to come? The good weather is ood news for people who have braved it to camp at Boilies Flat, the old picnic ground. I have in the past put up a tent for this week before New Year and slept outside to hear the birds… a couple of nights yet. Amazing how everything is growing well in the garden although harvest is some time yet. I think i have deterred the hare and dealt with a possums recently so now the runner beans and the last of the broad beans may be safe.

It’s a busy road past our gate, the water use is an indication of numbers… the 1o kg bottle has been filled 2 times this week. Te Aroroa walkers are heading out to Otaki, joining trampers, day walkers and the occasional hunter and bike rider or runner. Could there be 50 people a day? No counter, just our guess as there up to 25 cars at the locked gate. I try to keep an elementary record. The hardest thing is groups who come to go to the picnic ground meet the gate and wonder why they can’t get to the forest park, as we found on Christmas day, having travelled from Palmerston North. Signage says road closed at Blue Bluffs- what does that mean ? it’s the area of the slip between our house and where our car is parked but that means nothing to out of towners.

A common question we ask is, where are you from? Could be Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Australia or other areas in NZ .. amazing array of nations.

Goats and deer are about over the river. A friend walking back from the dam heard some rustling and saw a big brown bottom… must have been a deer close by. It didn’t stay to say goodday. One of the hens has gone missing, could be a passing dog but no evidence anywhere to be found.

More accommodation… a bell tent with a queen sized bed and a few simple furnishings on the upper level. A great place to stay for those wanting an outdoor place. The area has been cleared around so it looks quite the place. A wee walk to toilet and shower. Improvements continue with the new gas califont in use and the roof over the old caravan that had a leaking roof with more work to be done on the inside to improve it’s looks and function as a cooking area.

About 5am, 8.30 and then from 4pm there are noisy ducklings making themselves known. It’s a big thing to have food and grass… the 12 young ones are growing quickly.

. The river is inviting on a sunny day… the visitors that have just left have certainly enjoyed being it the water and down at the river bed. Others come with their dogs and enjoy the area to so it’s not really a private beach.

may this be a great year for you with desires fulfilled and new opportunities opening up. Bless you from us here at The Gate.

Overcoming…keeping cheerful and productive

Spring came and went and now there’s lots of growth in the garden and along the paths that calls for ‘work’ but with the wet or hot days that’s not something that’s happened easily. Pest control checks happen to a schedule so that helps keep rats at bay and the odd stoat. Pity possums like to congregate near the hen house and garden, I have killed 4 recently so they now reside in bucket and old onion bag to feed the hens with maggots. That’s what i call recycling.

We saw a great activity recently with DOC removing the retired rangers’ gear after 2 years of wait for him… a great display of stuff flying back and forth before 6 loads were delivered here including a piece of family history in a chest of drawers strapped onto a pallet and a pallet with 10 gorilla garden carts to help people get to the camping ground with their gear this summer. DOC staff have been preparing Boilies Flat are for tents and installing a kitchen sink area. Smaller in area and closer that the schoohouse flats area which some are using.

There is a plan … to have KCDC councillors visit before the road opening decision is made. I wrote an impact report of our 2 years to share with them and we have visit from 2 Otaki local Board councillors.( one a ward councillor). March the time being prepared for make a decision with reports of costs from the KCDC staff and of course us and interested and affected others. We are enjoying being here with the covering of the old cooking caravan with a roof other maintanence jobs being done including a new gas califont in the shower/toilet hut. Some seats have been planed and oiled so looking good.

We have purchased a bell tent for more accomodation so I am always preparing for more…. meeting walkers has been a good thing with people from the nations appearing up here which is the entrance to a national park and so that’s brings conversation and a drink of water plus a comment in the book I prepared by some.

Access is over the slip using steps and rope so come and enjoy the Forks area over this holiday time. May you have a blessed rememberance of the birth of Jesus Christ and a very amazing New Year.


Many ways for us .. rain to stop and rain to come, the helicopter airlift that was cancelled last week with the various things now sitting for another day, the decision about the reopening of the road which is to be made in March by the Kapiti Coast District Councillors after the plan is put before them. So life goes on with many things in our lives entailing waiting. Today it’s for a call to say the truck which is bringing carts for us to assemble to be used by campers in the months ahead.

The garden is getting planted with warmer weather here, corn, beans and butternuts as some of these.. potatoes and tomatoes, and of course different greens. So we are glad to have the space with another area prepared over the winter.

We have connection with various people as they pass. Now I have the stand with a book for comments by visitors, not sure how to get those who haven’t come because they aren’t sure if it’s ok as the road isn’t officially opened yet. 2 locked gates hinder the way in and out for us but the signs give an indication on what’s ahead.

One walker commented on the pest control he found as he stepped into the bush with his dog.. on his way south from Whangarei . Another conversation we had was with a visitor from Latvia cooking a brown trout for his tea and encouraging us to share it… they can’t get to stay in the forks so park up at the locked gate.

The steps make a huge difference to our access but the walk from the house carrying heavy things doesn’t get easier but it’s a help to have a wheelbarrow as I found when taking out the guitar and violin for the weekend plus my pack… left at the bottom of the stairs yesterday as David carried the empty gas bottle to the car. A trolley may be easier.

So here we are praising God that we have food and shelter, a beautiful place to live and the ability to get to and fro. There’s plenty to keep us active and alert and of course availablity to help those who visit or in need as we found when SARs volunteers called in Thursday night asking if we had a vehicle here… off when the quad as they were out looking for a lost tramper saving 21/2 hours of walking, finding him before dark. So come visit as you can.