Friday, February 28, 2014


During our recent South Island holiday one of the reasons we stayed in the Westport area was to visit the Denniston Plateau.   Denniston has an interesting history and is pretty much abandoned.  

After reading Jenny Pattrick's two books; 'The Denniston Rose' and its sequel 'Heart of Coal' I was keen to visit.  While these books are novels they are based on the actual area and the coal industry in the 1880s.

This is part of the blurb from the backcover of 'The Denniston Rose'
The bleak coal-mining settlement of Denniston, isolated high on a plateau above New Zealand's West Coast, is a place that makes or breaks those who live there. At the time of this novel - the 1880s - the only way to reach the makeshift collection of huts, tents and saloons is to climb aboard an empty coal-wagon to be hauled 2000 feet up the terrifingly steep Incline - the cable-haulage system that brings the coal down to the railway line. All sorts arrive here to work the mines and bring down the coal: ex-goldminers down on their luck, others running from the law or from a woman or worse. They work alongside recruited English miners, solid and skilled, who scorn these disorganised misfits and want them off the Hill.

The Denniston Rose is about isolation and survival. It is the story of a spirited child, who, in appalling conditions, remains a survivor. 

View towards Westport
The day we went there was abit overcast and quite cold.  A bit odd in summer to be wearing a woollen top, fleece jacket and ski jacket!  At least it wasn't raining or foggy.

parts of the incline looking towards Waimangaroa on the coast
DOC and the 'Friends of the Hill Society' have done a great job with the signage and promoting the area.  

top of incline track
As we wandered around the collection of abandoned rusty objects was quite impressive. 

There was some evidence of where people lived with brick chimney remains, steps between various areas.

We ventured further up the plateau and explored the areas around Burnetts Face and the other settlements.  We gained some understanding of how bleak it must have been and it wasn't even winter.

high on the plateau
abandoned mine shaft

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Not this time

I entered a quilt in to the Living Colour exhibition curated by Brenda Gael Smith, unfortunately it didn't get selected.  

While I'm a little disappointed to miss out - I have created a quilt that I like.  There are other exhibitions that it can be entered into - so no pics at the moment. 

After being a judges scribe last year I'm even more philosophical about whether a quilt is selected or not.  Seeing quilts that had won at other exhibitions then not be selected by the judges was an excellent learning opportunity - one that I'll hopefully remember.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


A bit more of our South Island holiday.  We took a day trip to Punakaiki, in Paparoa National Park.  Punakaiki is known for its pancake rocks and blow holes.  For some of the way the road goes along the coast and the scenery is spectacular.
We arrived at Punakaiki in time for the high tide. The blow holes are more impressive at high tide and even more so if there is a swell (which there wasn't really).


The easy walk around the cliff tops takes less than 30 minutes - depending upon how long you take to watch the blow holes.  When you're not looking at the coastal view the view back inland is flax (Harakeke), flax, a bit more flax and Nikau palms, then high hills covered in bush and Nikau palms. 

Harakeke (flax)
flowering Nikau

a squat Nikau

The day we left the West Coast we also drove past Punakaiki and it happened to be high tide again.  We just had to stop as that day was windy and the sea was quite choppy in contrast to the first day that was mostly sunny and calm.

Another natural feature is the Punakaiki Cavern, this is adjacent to the main road and access is quite easy.  The cave goes in ~140m and apparently there are glow worms - we learnt this on the way out so hadn't been looking for them!  We were rather noisy so maybe they had switched themselves off.  We all had head torches and once you got used to ducking and the slippery rocks it was fun.
cave exit

inside (odd light due to flash)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Just one more

Well I couldn't help myself, I delivered another Blue 12x12 for the Aotearoa Quilters Blue 12x12 exhibition.  (see here for my other entry)

I started it the day of my Guild's January meeting so I could take along some hand stitching.  The January meeting is just an informal night where you can stitch, knit, whatever and chat.  The usual monthly meetings are more formal and involve a speaker, show and tell, etc.

So I quickly felted up a blue piece.  Starting with acrylic felt I needlefelted (with my trusty Janome needlefelting machine) a selection of blue wool, silk rovings, with vague white crosses and some bits of black.  During the Guild meeting I added some handstitching and then took the piece on holiday with the intention to stitch more - yeah right.  It spent the whole time in its wee bag.

Back at home and completely uninspired with it - it sat in its wee bag. Until last Wednesday (two days before the deadline), when again I needed some handstitching to take to my Wednesday evening stitching group (the first for the year).  Quickly added a bit of machine quilting to firm it up abit, some bobbin work, then sewed on the facing strips that could be handstitched that night.

So 4pm Friday afternoon I delivered this ...

The quilts will be exhibited at the Craft Fairs in Christchurch and Palmerston North and the quilts will all be for sale at $125.  Not sure what I'll do with this if it doesn't sell and is returned.