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The gate is a prayer retreat center in Otaki Forks, New Zealand
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Six months behind the locked gates on Otaki Gorge Road

Yes it is 6 months since the September closure with now no clear plan although there is drilling planned to find the substructure… not to do a controlled dynamite slip but to look forward to future restoration of the road. It’s a waiting game… challenging as it’s hard to make plans for activities with people coming here. So except for a few that have taken the risk to cross to visit most of the traffic on the road are trampers, hunters and cyclists. It’s an interesting time as we have had to bring all we need in now may easier by being given a new bicycle buggy/trailer after the other older model was stolen on Waitangi weekend.

Greatful for rain today after a dry spell which David used to advantage by pruning the dam track over a number of days. We are glad that we had help to remodel the slip that blocked the track a few months ago that means we can drive over because it gave greater access to the 2 1/2 km to the dam beyond it. I have had a ride on the quad up the hill which has assisted with pest control which has taken me up the emergency tracks to empty traps and replace lures and gas for good nature traps.

There has been an abunance of moscovy ducklings hatched.. now what to do with them as they are a hungry lot. A few hard decisions need to be made before winter.

The 2 hives have produced about 70 kg of honey so that’s now bottled after creaming. What to do with that amount? any takers other than gifting it all.

Help from friends will be needed if we aren’t going to travel over the slip at night with daylight saving coming this weekend as the cracks and holes are there, a source of help has been offered when I go to Wellington to visit family/grandchildren.

We are always thinking of what it means to be caretakers here… the only residents as the DOC ranger is living elsewhere. I have enjoyed using the electric bike to travel to do the work for DOC… checking and cleaning toilets. The amazing damage one possum can do with a toilet roll has been rather interesting as they have the freedom of the area and seem to be attracted to the soft white material… it sure spreads far and wide leaving toilet rolls decimated and clawed.

So join with us in these times of being positive when there are uncertain days, challenges which we face, seeing all the work that could be done but knowing it’s isn’t possible to finish it all in one day. We are learning to rejoice… making our choice to praise God in every circumstance.

we haven’t had the great rumble yet

The months pass by, now 5 with the cracks increasing in width, the subsidence contiuing to happen and people who cross to come to the Forks using different means… walking or riding . We are the only legal ones doing so we were told by Kapiti Coast District Council this week during a visit to tell us of up and coming actions to find the extent of the movement and depths to solid rock over and above the fortnightly visit by surveyors. The cracks are creaping into the lower hillside so it will mean major works in the future taking some of our land to do so.

Our life goes on… hampered by the removal of the 3 wheeled bike buggy that we used to carry groceries and goods. Pity but that’s what happened when we were away at the Kite Festival for 2 days running a stall on making paper kites for children. We are now doing various tasks around the house and property, maintanence and pest control including pruning, painting, gardening and the cleaning of the DOC toilets in the Forest Park.

There is no timeline for work to be done, it’s wait till the road falls, possibly over the winter but nothing is certain… could we have a road reinstated by the end of the year… no one can guarantee that.

keep on waiting

It’s 17 weeks on Friday since the road closed and the area is sagging like stockings falling down around the ankles or the skin of an older woman like me so it is changing slowly but progressively. Cracks are enlarging and 2 pine trees are on a lean in the line. It’s rather amazing to see so closely and of course with necessity as we use the area to access our car behind the concrete barriers on the Otaki side about 600 m from home. Not such a welcome trip with rain happening as we found on Sunday when we returned we were in the midst of a downpour, riverlets on the road, with a need for a clothes change when we arrived home… coats out to dry. It was spectacular really and quite exilerating to be out in the elements knowing we could be comfortable in a few minutes.

This cold weather changes everything and after poking a stick in my right eye as I was searching for a lost hen I haven’t been that keen to go out into the bush. Yes I got it checked at the Paraparaumu afterhours medical centre… scratches on the eyeball only, but looking a bit bloodshot.

I have enjoyed using the electricified bike to travel to the forest park and back to check toilets and when I was trying to catch a feral cat in a life catch cage… unsuccessful as I found it in a modifed timms trap after loosing the battle by magpies eating the lure meat. Now to catch magpies!

Trampers, pleasure bikers and hunters are still accessing the forest park usually risking the slip face after accessing the area up the emergency track and finding it very difficult and slippery, as one guy said, ‘ Diabolical’. None wants to slip down the hill on the track… surely a rope would help as on our side. As one tramper I met at Parawai Lodge said when she saw the rope on our side,” Why have a rope here ?” only to find it was quite helpful descending the steep ridge.

The river runs higher than normal with the recent rains so we have been talking and working towards making an access over the old slip face at the second level and coming down through the forest to the road… adding a rope to make it safer and easier in preparation for the day! It is great to have help with these projects.

I have focused on improving the garden…removing some plants, putting up a raised bed with a frame cover and insulation cloth as it isn’t possible to get materials for a glass house or plastic house here. We got the mulcher into action so that has gone onto a heap as we are preparing a large compost bed for future needs.

Pest Control and monitoring continue with the bird count done, the purchase of some macracarpa that has been cut up and the doors cut before drilling out 40 new weta motels. It is a good project to slowly work on getting them ready.

That’s about all for this update. I trust you have a good year, Kathleen

The road continues to move

I thought it was time to get some visual indication of what I have shared on the most recent blog.. the photo has been taken by a surveyors using a drone, yesterday. It doesn’t give you the amazing view of subsidence by the tarsealed road end but it sure shows the extent of what is happening slowly.

Will the rain today make a marked difference ? It’s a guessing game how long it will take to fall.

When it does our access will be changed so need to be prepared to use the ridge behind the house or the dam track and emergency track to the forest edge. We haven’t arranged any access through Cyrus Hills forest yet but necessity will change everything I am sure as there is no other way but walking… not sure if I want to do the 5-6 hour walk to Waikanae, Mangone South road.
I wonder what the Lord will work out for us? Keep trusting in His goodness.

Keeping up with the Campbells

3 months have passed since the road was offically closed. We have continued to walk to the car, now parked about 600 m away.

The road has detoriated… cracks, holes and slumping indicate the area most affected now with the surveyors leaving blue marks where new cracks have appeared since there last visit, weekly I believe. there is not much to say but wait…. but 2 days of rain is coming so that is a bit of a concern if that means the end of our getting supplies in over the area. We have been using a bike trolley… amazing difference in transporting things as it’s light and balanced unlike the wheelbarrow that has to be lifted up to move it. We have been over the area with the quad today collecting firewood from the paddock beside road, branches that had fallen in strong winds recently.

Busy days… it has been good to have 2 quiet ones over the last 2 days. We are glad to have our own personal river beach so I spent the day there yesterday… lying, resting, reading and some walking but mostly just enjoying the sound of water. There’s lots we need to keep up with here with pest control, bees, birds and ground maintanence. I haven’t spent as much time in the garden as I would have liked but I picked my first courgette, emptied bags I planted pototoes in, to find very small ones and we are having a meal with spinach.

3 moscovy ducks are sitting in various places …we will wait to see the what appears from their patience of 5 weeks.

The emergency track is now open accessing Otaki Forks through Cyrus Hills property and out place adding an extra couple of hours probably. A few hunters are still visiting by quad and motor scooters along the road… one headed into the Forks tonight. Theh shorter route is definitely a choice considering that the slip site is still walkable.

I have had my pushbike electified so that will assist me getting to the Forks to clean toilets etc as something i offered to do to reduce costs and the necessity of DOC staff making the challening walk to and fro.

Pest control activities means lots of walking, I notice the extra track that is usually covered by volunteers. It is planned that we do a bird count tomorrow and put out some pitfall traps is the weather is favourable as it takes about 4 hours, all this is helped by friendly keep helpers willing to walk the siip area as far as I know… yes I give them a warning that it is at their own risk. 2 fit young helpers put out the traps and tunnels on the emergency track on morning so I followed their work up to paint numbers on each box (David had taken them to the position at the Cyrus Hills side of the track when the road was closing as he wanted to take the trailer out of the gorge.

I will keep you posted on changes as they happen… wouldn’t it be interesting to watch the slip happening, we can see the area from the house.

Slowly, slowly things happen around here

It’s now 9 weeks since the road was closed. We have seen the progress to get an emergency track in place with negotiations and then the work to be done. Our side of the access has a large slip that would have impeded access but some work has been done in it to make it safer but not quad accessible. i haven’t been past the slip to do pest control so need to do that now to move some of the traps and tunnels plus the leg traps for possum catching that i have recently used on the beginning of the dam track. I also had a modified timms trap that caught our first feral cat so it’s obvious that is one species that I need to consider is also in the area to remove.

It’s been unusually wet and cold over the past weeks and today is no different with the rain warnings in place. It has been hard for the bees to get to the nectar of the flowering trees around here so the quantity of honey will be noticably less for many, like myself. I am ever hopeful of course. Even with the planting of the garden… put in seeds and plants but everything is slow and possibly disease prone with the dam weather, I also had a chicken attack on the recently planted greens so if it’s not one thing it’s another.

How do we interpret : “it’s at your own risk ” that we travel over the potential slip area… what about visitors or potential guests. Where does that place us? Legally where does the responsibilty lay if we have you come to stay. We are needing to ask a few more questions.. either of the local council or a lawyer. Mind you carrying food/ bags and such isn’t the issue, it’s all back to what risk you will take as we see hunters still coming on quads and other means of transport..

A few questions linger in our minds about possible timing of the length of this closed road experience. It would be good to know in our world of planners, but it seems not likely that it will fall for our timetable. So the emergency track is almost done…. one problem is the point that it opens up above the lucitanicas with it being close to our open land at the top of the ridge and the attraction of heading straight down the ridge to the house. ( in the planning stage this option was being agreed to but practially it hasn’t happened with the DOC workers

Keep carrying on through the wet days and the fine

Plan and adjust what you may do, as the day decides

Don’t be amazed or discouraged

It’s not all about you

Keep trusting, looking forward

knowing you will get through

this time with Joy

trusting that God is here with you.

Waiting is a testing

We are frequently asked, ” When will the road open again?”, ” When is the council going to fix it?” as we wait for the hlllside to fall. Life goes on as normal really except we do a bit more walking to get to the car.( as I thought yesterday it’s no different from someone walking to the train to get to work). Hardship…. the isolation with only the ones who don’t take notice of signs likely to head into the Forks for a walk, kayak or cycle as we have noticed signs on the road or seen them passing by.

Patience, well learned in years gone by with the time between coming to live on the land and building the house and then 4 years ago with the months between the road closure and the slip falling and the reconstruction of the hillside… it sure comes as another test to make the most of the time.

The one thing I have found challenging is the weather, too wet and windy for bees to be out foraging much when the spring flowers are in great profusion like the kamahi, hinau and rewarewa so who knows how much polination of plants and nectar is happening with this spell…. a challenge to get out into the garden as well.

I have enjoyed the walks in the bush… there’s always something interesting like a fallen tree covered in small white fungi or flowers like the Oleria Rani that happens every 5 years so I see more trees than I had seen before or hearing the NZ Falcon/ karearea flying about. It’s good for my health I say as I plan to go to do pest control work on one of the tracks. A few DOC 200 traps have parts of duckling that have died from the latest batch to use as bait incase there is a stoat about.

Today I have the task of fixing a cracked firebrick in the Rayburn stove, great to have the backup underfloor heating until it’s repaired.

I am ready to send my application in to Kapiti Coast District Council for a Heritage fund grant. A good time to make a Management plan, make a budget for future spending as I have talley up the hours spent on the work on pest control over a year. It is good to keep the supplies of bait, lure and gas plus purchase new equipment and now things to help with monitoring the work that I have done. The applicaiton is for November and we get the grant applications processed by February to be spent by June.

Slowly life changes.

It’s been a month now since the road gates were locked and signs went up. No emergency access has been negotiated yet so we see the occasional walker, push bike, motor bike and quad heading inland. We have a chance to talk with some.

We bike or walk 1.5 km to the where the car is parked so need to allow enough time to do that bit when planning time away in Otaki or Wellington. Yesterday we left 1 pm and got back home at nightfall 8pm after a 1 1/2 hour visit with family. It was ok but took longer than a car ride as we used the train service. We need to be patient with each other and communicate where we are as officially we are the only ones here now that the DOC Ranger has left to stay elsewhere although he may be back to check things in a couple of weeks. We are surely in another period of waiting…. time to seek the Lord, pray, read the word, have a retreat at home with the occasional forray out in Otaki or elsewhere.

I took some photos today of the road… looks ok from the distance….. and the road edge that is subsiding with cracks in various places that can only be seen when close to them. I wonder if it will be heavy rain that will cause the fall to happen or whether something can activate the action? It is good that we have had the quad serviced, got good backpacks, are self generating power, don’t have any major maintanence issues to address.

We have been asked about leaving the house, etc but wher etoo and what to do with the beehives which will soon be in full nectar collecting with kamahi and other trees flowering, what about ducks and hens and of course the security of the place let alone keeping up with pest control activities that I do. This seems a but difficult as we would have to have a fully furnished house too as we aren’t really happy taking a vehicle over the area in question. So why not stay and give no place to fear or anxiety… live by faith that we will be looked after and stay safe.

time passes with little changes

It’s a month since the gates were locked across Otaki Gorge road so our life has been different since then. And so we wait, some of the cracks have enlarged and slumping has continued close to the springs paddock but overall just walking across is about the same. The concrete barriers have been ajar so we have brought our serviced quad bike back after 2 weeks.

The changes have bought a measure of quietness into our lives intersected by the occasional phone call and connection with Steve the DOC Ranger. We have taken time to be still, i have pottered in the garden getting reading for planting with some tyres filled with the contents of the bukashi buckets, soil from the hen run and some leaves we collected into bags from a friend’s house in Otaki a few months ago. So I’m stirring into action by taking out some of the finished plants, picking the seed heads of the russian kale before it bursts into flower, looking at the task of getting everything started for the months ahead by soaking seeds, buying some more plants ready to go like silverbeet, spinach, pokchoi and 2 zuchinni plants. It’s amazing to see potatoes sprouting and the odd bit of asparagras appear.

On walking it’s great to see the Oleria Rani flowering mostly on the part of the road from the corner entrance to the Pukeatua stream track to the cairn…5 trees here flowering every 5 years. There is lemonwood (tarata) and wineberry which I believe the bees are collecting nectar from plus the gorse as there’s plenty of yellow pollen on the legs of the bees.

It’s time to try making some weta motels… have yet to try the small hand held router…. but a hand saw cut the wood today so I’m heading forward. I will try to do some kind of creative project each day I think. There are tunnels to make up so there’s a never ending possiblity list for me.

It’s time to contemplate on the goodness of God, what He is like and to take time to listen and meditate on His word. Yes all these are aspects of prayer and then there’s thanking Him for the privileges we have at this time, a time of learning, reading and journalling. So one can fill the day in many ways plus throwing in some walking and pest control work.

Reading the biography of Rees Howells has been a reminder and challenge to live as ” dead ” with no will or self to dominate my life and reactions, to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to do God’s will. In other ways it’s to be obedient to promptings, to step out into what I feel God is wanting me to do, even if it’s a phone call to a friend who had been planning to visit this week, to tell her about the road so she said to me, ” This is a God call”. She will change her plans! A pity but at least it saved a difficult situation as I didn’t know she was planning to come till I phoned her.

Signs of change on the land and sea.

Walking at dusk last night highlighted the isolation we are in. No sign of traffic on the road which has had a day of rain. It was amazing to see in the fading light the flowers of Oleria Rani, Wineberry and Lemonwood trees were visible in the growing darkness as we walked from the carpark to the bridge…. amazing that it’s flowering time again. We had birds with their evening chorus around us with the piwakawaka flitting about. Quite a scene as we strolled together, sharing life.

A different time of year than lockdown, a different focus with thoughts of how to be filled with the Spirit of God and have fruitful lives. It’s been a locked in situation with still being able to walk across the road, as we wait to the fall. I do wonder sometimes how long.,… even thinking on Saturday about the scripture in Mark 11 where Jesus said, ” you can say to the mountain be cast into the sea”. By faith believing and it will happen. So that’s a word for us but we declared it would be into the river, soon, within 1-2 months not 3 years, leaving us a place to walk across and a road be formed again. .