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The gate is a prayer retreat center in Otaki Forks, New Zealand
prayer, new zealand, retreat, otaki, otaki forks, david campbell, kathleen campbell, the gate
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Daily life adjustments

How the weather affects our life here in Otaki Forks.

So many plans are put into planning diary but when many are outdoors the days get adjusted. This morning it was to go out doing pest control with rat and DOC 200 bait, leg traps to put on a line to catch possums but as with cricket ” rain stopped play” and I put the fire on in the kitchen. I had a plan to pull down a shelter wrecked by the wind and clean out the water tanks used for silt collection close to our intake but another day?

So it is at this time of year, outside work is fitted into the weather patterns. There is wood to collect for the fires, feeding the birds and other necessary things around the house but further afield is not something that entices one to get wet.

Fortunately shelters around the property help when the showers come through when doing pest control but not today… cosy and warm is the plan for me. Catching up on paper work, preparing an invitation for neighbours to come to a working bee to make tunnels for rats traps for Saturday at the end of August and for a retreat here on Saturday October 12th.

looking towards Mt Hector and the Tararua Mountains from Prayer Mountain.


Making a new track in the bush for pest control use gave me such a delight that I want to share it… amazing colour and shape….hidden away from human contact usually but not from the creator/ designer of such things… Amazing God.

It has been an eventful few months with the weather being warm and fine. We are quietly living with occasional guests, work on tree pruning and pest control continuing. The venture of selling trees at the entrance on a stand has been progressing well so that I have an outlet for trees and ferns that I have potted up in previous years. It is a journey of being ready, up to date with outside activities with winter weather changes coming upon his now.

I am grateful for being able to catch 2 stoats in DOC 200 traps close to the house who had killed a number of moscovy ducklings. Also grateful for help to move gravel from Blue Bluff’s cliff face onto paths between the outbuildings. An battery powered hedge trimmer has given me confidence to prune around the house… amazing. Lots of rain predicted to we will see how they will handle that, time for fires in the kitchen, water heated by the boiler with the stored wood collected over months past.

Eels, trees and ferns for sale and a new contemplate prayer walk

This is summer and good things are happening with a stall at the house entrance – ‘TheGate 2 U’ plants and ferns sourced from the tracks on the property where plants in bags and containers can be purchased. 
The other good thing is knowing now that here are at least 2 eels up stream from the dam as seen by the Tararua Tramping club on a recent walk.

The Tui contemplative walk is developing with the paths having been improved and some seats put in place. There a plaques to be prepared and a brochure to direct your feet to the ones you may want to visit.  This is a  new venture but progress has been made with the purchase of a carved Totara post now in position by the entrance to the track.

So join others who have been walking and enjoying the Historic Arcus Dam track and be one of those who stays for a retreat.

This wonderful season

Greetings from the Gate… where life goes on is peace and quiet which makes it such a special place for retreats and walks. During this season of Christmas and New Year you are welcome to walk the Historic Arcus Dam Track and or stay for a retreat or of course visit.

It’s the best time to contemplate the reason for the season when the sun is shining. walking is easy and the days are longer.  We have had a wettish spring so everything is green, lush and smell fresh.

May you sense what it means to live in peace… deep within … that Peace on  Earth and Goodwill to all men the angels heralded when they said, Glory to God in the highest.

blessings be yours Kathleen and David Campbell

Changing times

Spring brings with it changes in many things,

trees flowering again, bees active and rain,

seeding plants in the garden flowering yellow for the bees

and possums about, time to kill them again.


It’s a new season for me too as on crutches and moon boot I walk,

After a stumbling fall down some steps in Wellington.

So I’m limited in what I can do, outside for sure

So David is active and so life waits to I walk freely again.


The orchids are flowering too, the road edge has been trimmed

Visitors come past our door bringing oodles of dust

to go the Park for walk and to stay

in the care of Steve, a DOC ranger at last. ]

time for Spider Orchids as spring is here

It’s amazing to find such treasures beside

the road and down on the bank.

It’s so obvious, when you know what to find

so come look and see them this year again.

Yes, the corybas season is upon us, so many sizes. The one I found must be call macracyrabas I think, a spider looking plant that was very obvious to the eye, not like some that have small flowers as we saw on the track last year.

Well, the winter is near over so come walk on the tracks again.  One man called today and asked if he could come so I gave him the ok and off he went, just wanted to get out of the city for the day and it seems that the Fenceline track is closed so ours a good options.  He said it doesn’t look like many visit it, did I know about the great walks app ( that’s something to consider and get help on for sure). The plant labels from ceramic tiles just need a bit of an effort to get in place. The idea of a walk of remembrance as an option has been making headway with thoughts of questions and making some artistic designs with sharpies and pen, then sprayed with varnish.  How to make it more of a treasure hut rather than a blaring thing it what I need to think about, with positions of questions being less obvious than plant signs.


retreats happen here for individuals and groups

We have been glad to have the recent visitors who have stayed. They taking time walking on our property and in the Tararua Forest Park, sharing at an evening meal and praying together has been the pattern of time together.  It is great that we can continue with the pest control and autumn pruning, gardening as inspired too.  It has been good to start to harvest the yams growing here, tops affected frost.

There is a biblical and poetry workshop planned for Saturday July 14th here from 10-3pm with a shared lunch.  A focus on God’s word taking time for him to speak to us with a plan that the results will be outworked in a poetry form.  A learning curve for some and an extension for others as we have a model in the Psalms of David.

We look forward to the new seasons… bees have their spring start on the shortest day we have been told at bee club.  So time for pruning, restful sleeps during these longer nights, warm fires in the kitchen on colder mornings and evenings as we spend time in the kitchen area. Of course boiler fires are good to heat water for baths and underfloor heating in rooms.

Pest control continues with new supplies of bait and bait stations from the KCDC Heritage Fund grant. Always a reason to be in the bush which restores a sense of peace for me, brings ideas and new ways of signage too.  With left over pieces of tiles I hope to make some plant markers and will consider what words to use for reflections/ things to remember as a feature of the dam track walk to the now named Lake of Remembrance/Rotomahara with it’s sign attached to the log above the lake.



Autumn-winter seem to have come early

Snow on the mountain above us is rather beautiful as seen from Otaki but it has made it cooler for sure.
Time for pruning and garden clean up.  Trying to keep veges from being eaten has meant that I have covered many with cloth bird netting, not sure if it a possum because all the broad beans were topped, so back to replanting seeds again.

We have enjoyed guests over the past weeks, interesting conversations, baptisms in the river below the house on a sunny day at Easter, work on the dam track to improve drainage and genuinely glad we have a way to warm the house when it turned cold.  After hearing how many days it has taken to get power to houses in Auckland area we know that would have been us if we had been connected to the electrical systems.

Bees are getting ready for winter.. It sure is likely to be a cool one if it’s anything like the northern hemisphere with this cold snap one month early. I am glad to share honey this season.. as I didn’t get it tutin tested so giving it away.

Work is being done to strengthen the river side of the road on the Otaki side with a washout protection being extended.  This takes days with railway irons being pushed in by a digger and then the crew comes in to drill into the hillside and back fill with concrete.  Otherwise the road has been good.

The photo was taken at the dam… the rata flowering there at this time of year was amazing.  It is usually a climber so dfferent to see it as a tree close by and not eaten by goats or possums.  The water in the dam fluctuates so on some visits there’s a waterfall and others not.


Rain has come at last

Greeted by a quail’s call at the back door this morning was rather interesting,

What a dry spellwe have had but rainovernight ever so small in amount is very 3 mil

We have watering to do, weeds a flowering, fejoia and putaputaweta flowering too.

The bees are busy, making new comb and collecting nectar in the swam hive I was given, so I begin again with lots to improve as a beekeeper with more frequent checks of what’s happening inside the hive.

A quiet spell after a few people staying is ok as we take each day.

Bush walking to do pest control is always good, away from the heat of the sun as I increase the number of traps and bait stations in 2 places.  It takes a bit of bush bashing cutting supplejack on the way, climbing and moving stones, a small area at a time.  We went looking for a rata tree and only found one that a rotting fallen tree in the place we had thought, pushing our way through a lot of Kiekie.  I am claiming back a grassy area by trying to kill the monbretia that has taken over there, at the spot where the Corrigan homestead, school, orphanage and post office was located close to the cairn.

Orchids abound

The season for the different types to start flowering has begun with the delight to us of a visit by 2 botanists who spotted 13 different types including different sun orchids (Thelymitra) and  the different examples of Pterostylis as seen in the photo, on the side of the Historic Arcus dam track in various places so in flower and others finishing. It was amazing to see and identify more of these plus ferns, lichens, liverworts and trees that have sprung up over the 20 years since the dam was created.  It was a botanist’s delight with 5 spider orchid types ( Corybas)… 2 rare to the area with DNA found in McQuarie Island. A slow and observant botanist found more that we had in our walk pasts to do pest control or get to the dam.

This has been a good year for learning more….we came upon 2 men looking for these spider orchids on the side of the road when we went to install the board walk in the bush.  We met Carlos the man responsible for botany in Te Papa national museum for the first time.


What about a name for the lake behind the dam?  We have thought of Lake Mahara or in Maori Roto Mahara, ‘a Lake of Remembrance’. I have yet to have confirmed if it is big enough to add to topographical maps, is so we may pursue this further.