Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

Lockdown/Slowdown #3

24/05/2020

Lots, and lots of apples. We have 111 fruit and nut trees, most of which are apple. Conner and Jess helped us with this year’s harvest.

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We then made apple sauce, butter, apple cider vinegar and maybe we’ll get at some apple crumble before we’re all done. Later you’ll see our trial and errors at making an apple press and the final results! Yum.#purenewzealand #lakewanakanz #wanaka #lovewanak
#mountainspirt #applecider #mountainspirit

Lockdown/Slowdown #2

24/05/2020

All of our images in this series will be in mostly chronological order, except for this one, which tells the story of how we all fared by the wind-down of phase 3 into phase 2.
Our lockdown bubble was my wife Amanda, our son Dexter, and our two “Woofrs” (willing workers on organic farms) who we took in the day before lockdown here in New Zealand.

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We lucked out with Conner and Jess, professional farmers from Maryland, who rode out the uncertain times with us. This shot was taken the morning the left for another Woofing position. They worked hard on many projects here at Mountain Spirit. One of which was the design of the apple press pictured here. More on how that came together soon!

On another note, I’ve got a bit of background in photojournalism and newspaper writing (United Press International, local papers etc), so I hope to provide you with some useful and entertaining posts going forward. Amanda will also be posting. I think you’ll enjoy her perspective.
So that’s the lockdown crew.
#purenewzealand #wanaka #lovewanaka #lockdown #mountainspirit

Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

17/11/2019
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Amanda Richards, Summit of Mt. Roy, Wanaka, New Zealand

By Alanna Ketler of Collective Evolution

While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!
Hiking in Nature Can Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, hiking in nature can reduce rumination. Many of us often find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, which takes us out of the enjoyment of the moment at best and leads us down a path to depression and anxiety at worst. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin. Read more….

Over-Tourism – Now What Do We Do?

13/07/2019
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Dexter and Genelle Richards at Dexter’s Inn circa 1940  ©randallrichards

I grew up in tourism. My parents started a ski lodge, Dexter’s Inn,  in the 1940’s in Sunapee, New Hampshire. I’ve been in and out of tourism over the years, and in different shades of it, from ski instruction, to experiential education, high-altitude mountain guiding,  a guide on the Inka Trail to Machu Pichu, back in the days when you didn’t see a lot of people, and no permits required (referring to the Inka Trail only).

We now own Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters and Mountain Spirit NZ in the Southern Lakes District of New Zealand. So we’re officially back in the industry. However the industry seems uber-industrial.
Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So when is enough, enough? And what do we do now?
Here are some rumblings about our, small, but very fast-growing communities, Wanaka and Queenstown, New Zealand.
First an article from CNN: in which Queenstown is listed, among other areas in the world, as a trouble spot, with over 3 million visitors per year…

Destination trouble: Can overtourism be stopped in its tracks?
(CNN) — We first hear about these places when we’re kids. Famous destinations full of wondrous architecture, spectacular scenery or ancient mysteries that fire our imaginations and fill us with yearning.
We dream, we grow, we save up all our money and one day we finally get to visit — only to discover, read more…

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Queenstown, New Zealand , image©Randall Richards

Next, our local Wanaka Stakeholder Group’s Protect Wanaka Facebook page, a firebrand in its own right (and I mean that as a compliment), weighs in: “Queenstown has been named in CNN Travel’s global list of locations that are currently plagued by ‘Overtourism’, read more…

The Wanaka Sun
The Disadvantages of Tourism
By Allison McLean (journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz)

“Tourism is noted as New Zealand’s top export earner and the cornerstone of its economy. It sustains and grows local communities and reportedly employs one in seven New Zealanders, according to Tourism New Zealand. Many locals consider this sword to be double edged, noting the accumulated waste, erosion of land and consumption of fossil fuels from tourism that put the country’s land and greatest asset at risk. read more…

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Just as shifting our paradigm on how our family uses plastics during Plastic Free July, we’re in the process of shifting how we think of tourism, and how we contribute to the problem or clean up the mess. Whether as suppliers or tourists, we all need a re-think. A saying I heard the other day made me chuckle, and again was a paradigm shifter:
“I’m not stuck in traffic, I am traffic”
Responsible tourism is the future, not simply the bottom line. Here’s New Zealand’s webpage on the subject, as well as another great page on NZ Sustainable Tourism Tourism Industry Aotearoa, TIA’s page.  And acompany, Responsible Travel has had some new global initiatives.  Lake Wanaka Tourism has published a sustainable tourism page.

Unfortunately I see Wanaka and Queenstown going the way of Park City, Vail, or other towns in the Alps, that just got too big, and now deal with smog, traffic and overgrowth, but that’s another subject, I suppose.  Although we, too, are new here, one redeeming attribute is we’ve always tried to live a small footprint, including buying existing houses rather than building anew, living off the grid when possible etc. .

Tell me what you think. Respectful comments welcome.

Mountain Spirit New Zealand – A Video Snapshot

26/01/2019

Check out our new video which gives you an overview of what we’re up to, our goals and dreams to make Mountain Spirit a place where people can connect to nature, themselves and each other. The video was done by “The Master” *Ashley Leung. Ash did the ground work, all editing and production. Keep the good work Ash! Randall did the aerial footage, and Ash made magic with it.

*We feel very fortunate to have Ashley, his wife Autumn and their new daughter as family friends. We miss them them and look forward to their return to New Zealand.

In Support of Time Out – The Kiwi Way

22/01/2019

In a busy world where taking time off is a difficult thing, it may be the most important thing.

I come from the Northeastern U.S., where there’s a strong “New England work ethic”, where if you’re not busy, you’re not amounting to anything. OK, a slight exaggeration, but there is an expectation of achieving, of going to one of the Ivy League Schools, and getting a respectable career with benefits.  Instead, I became a mountain guide. After graduating from the University of Utah, and an early career in the ski boot business I took a sharp left turn into the mountains and never returned, except for leading corporate team building programs for Outward Bound for a few years.

I’ve been living in New Zealand for over 10 years but a few exchanges on the phone last week really rocked me. I finally got an unexpected peek into Kiwi psyche about healthy priorities, of balancing work and spending quality down-time with family and friends,  taking a time out.

We’re really busy during the summer holiday season here in the Wanaka area. We run an off-the-grid Secluded Sanctuary called Mountain Spirit, which includes a BnB. We’re ramping up to run health and wellness programs on our land, and we run Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters. So the Christmas season is full-on for my wife and I and our 7yr old son as well.

We decided to block off  a couple of days right after Christmas, and take an  overnight on the charter boat to Lake Wanaka’s Paddock Bay to unplug. The inevitable happened when we got a few inquiries during that time for boat charters. When I explained we were taking some much needed time off, despite the holiday season being our busy time, without exception the callers responded with, “Good on ya, you need to pay attention to that family and take that time off. We’ll check in with you later.” (Which they did). Correct me if I’m wrong, (you Americans, from the NorthEast), if you were the caller would you not be surprised that a vendor was taking time off, and wouldn’t you think he was expected to be open and available when you call.? Instead of the “Good on ya”,  if my memory serves, the first response would not be one of support, rather: “Are you sure you can’t be available for tomorrow”? or, “Why are you not open?”

It was an eye opener. Three separate callers actually took it in stride and said “Of course you’re taking time off, have a good one.”

Not to slam Americans or anything, but it’s almost a cliche at this point – And God love Americans for all that we are, but taking a slow long holiday is not one of them. The American system is set up for a two week vacation, max. And that does not do justice to the country in which you’re visiting. It’s a bit of an insult actually. 

Time off during the busy season

Spending time with family on the boat when our To Do list is growing. Damn the torpedoes and head out anyway.

The only way to get more time off from the American workplace is to quit, or set up a longer travel itinerary between jobs, or be a CEO. So we can’t find fault with individual Americans, or can we?  I’m not sure – all I know is I was surprised to finally experience being given permission to take time off. I’ve been conditioned not to take time off.  To have someone say “it’s OK”,  is a eye opener for an American.

For those of us that made recreation our jobs, and travel came with the territory, we were lucky enough to be exposed to different perspectives in the world. It’s not just the Kiwi’s who value taking time off , more than do Americans. Most of the world does.

It’s All About Connecting

05/01/2019

Our mission at Mountain Spirit is about “facilitating connection to one’s self, each other and the natural world.” Yesterday, here in New Zealand,  I Children at Mountain Spirit, enjoying chicken energysnapped this shot of my son and couple of our guests cradling one of our chickens in the nearby hammock. The hammock happens to be next to the “chicken tractor” (movable chicken house) so at the moment so makes for fun relaxing hangout with chickens all underfoot.  The guests loved the chickens and were were visiting with them every spare moment. Connecting with nature is vital for children, whether it’s going for a walk in the woods, on a mountain ridge, taking them sailing or just spending time helping them collect the chickens’ eggs.  A good book about children and nature, mentioned quite a few times in this blog is Last Child in the Woods, by R. Louv, but there are also newer titles in print as well.

Back in the Saddle – Mountain Spirit’s Blog

02/01/2019

Listen to the Music – Change the World

28/04/2014

The Creation of a Song Can Change the World

Doobie Brothers' Tom Johnston at Elvis Costello in Queenstown, New Zealand, April 2014

Doobie Brothers’ Tom Johnston and Elvis Costello in Queenstown, New Zealand, April 2014

I’m here to kindly challenge a comment  Doobie Brothers singer/songwriter Tom Johnston made about his song “Listen to the Music” in an interview with SongFacts. If you’ve not heard the tune, you’re probably mistaken. You have, and just didn’t know it.  It’s been on top radio lists (topped the charts at #11) and has been heard in advertising for major brands and is one of the most uplifting songs written.

Last night we saw the Doobie Brothers in Queenstown New Zealand at the Queenstown Blues and Roots Festival. It was a great experience.  I used to drive many highway miles in my college days from the East Coast to Utah,  listening to their music, so seeing them live for the first time 40 years later was full-circle experience.

The Doobie Brothers’ first hit was written by the band’s lead vocalist Johnston, who also played guitar on the track.  Johnston described the motivation for the song as a call for world peace:
“The chord structure of it made me think of something positive, so the lyrics that came out of that were based on this utopian view of the world.

“The idea was that music would lift man up to a higher plane, and that world leaders, if they were able to sit down on some big grassy knoll where the sun was shining and  just listened to the music – such as the type I was playing – would figure out that everybody had more in common than they had not in common, and it was certainly not worth getting in such a bad state of affairs about.

“Everybody in the world would therefore benefit from this point of view. Just basically that music would make everything better. The world would be a much better place. And of course I’ve since kind of realized it doesn’t work that way.  It was very utopian and very unrealistic. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

I think Johnston might have been a bit premature in that assessment.

Mark Laurent Singer Songwriter

Mark Laurent
Singer Songwriter

Auckland New Zealand recording artist Mark Laurent  writes in a song on track 2 of his album Undergrowth,
Everything we do, matters somewhere,
You let the cat jump out of the bag,
It hits the floor running and never looks back,

I’m gonna pick up this ball point pen, I’m going to change the world,
I play the chord and I play it again, I’m going to change the world,”

This adds fuel to the creative fire and idea, that words and music do indeed change the world and that Johnston’s intent in writing Listen tot the Music,  is actually being realized. To the untrained eye, it might seem hard to see sometimes, but by focusing on what is good in the world, actually we see that humankind is on the brink of colossal change for the better, evolution and at the same time upheaval.  The Hundredth Monkey Effect  is right at our doorstep.  The tipping point, when we’ll really be living fully in a humane, compassionate and just world is happening before our eyes.

The energy is changing throughout the world. Check out Where the Hell is Matt if you’ve not seen it yet, for a powerful video with regular people dancing from all over the world, set to very timely music which was written for the video. THAT sort of thing was simply not possible a few years ago. There is no way the old order can survive such positive vibes.

Pat Simmons and son performing Listen to the Music, Queenstown, NZ

Pat Simmons and son performing Listen to the Music, Queenstown, NZ

Speaking of positive vibes, when the Doobie Brothers played Listen to the Music as their encore, I could just feel a wave of energy. Call it what you want, but “that is powerful medicine”, as spiritual teacher Sun Bear used to say.

Co-lead band member Patrick Simmons also was putting out great vibes on stage.  “He must do inner work of some sort” I thought to myself,  as I saw him play the evening out. He seemed perfectly at home in his own skin playing on stage.  Probably, he’s just as peaceful off stage as he appears on stage, unlike a lot of rock stars, as witnessed by the tabloids, (not that I read them).

As I used to be a wire services photographer, (UPI) I usually take my camera to events, and caught a shot of Simmons sharing the microphone with a young performer. We thought it might have been one of the buskers who had played earlier, who had been  invited up on stage. It seemed to make a good shot, so I took few and sent them off the Doobie Brothers’ website. I got a quick reply and was informed the young performer is Simmons’ son Patrick Jr, who is doing good work on the music scene in his own right in Hawaii.  Maybe we can get him to come down to our Mountain Spirit Secluded Sanctuary here in Hawea/Wanaka to do a workshop sometime.

So, listen to the music everyone, and change the world. And to Tom Johnston…keep writing!

Images: Queenstown shots: R. Richards | Mark Laurent from his webpage
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned as I find some links for these songs.

 

 

 

New Zealand Singer Loving Life on the Road in N. America

08/09/2013

By Lucy Ibbotson
Otago Daily Times

Van Riel On Tour in Bodie California

Van Riel in Bodie California

Lake Hawea, New Zealand singer-songwriter Anna van Riel, between gigs on her sustainable house concert tour across North America, plays with daughter Matilda (2) in Bodie, a ghost town in California.

Two-thirds of the way through her sustainable musical road-trip across Canada and the United States, Lake Hawea, NZ singer-songwriter Anna van Riel says the 15 months spent planning and fundraising for the experience has all been worth it.

”I’m still pinching myself,” Ms van Riel told the Otago Daily Times in an email from Colorado.
”I can’t believe we did it. That we’re here. It’s been so much cooler than I anticipated.”

Accompanied by husband Locky Urquhart and their daughter Matilda (2), Ms van Riel has spent the past two months travelling from British Columbia, through Washington State, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado, performing quirky concerts in private homes, farmers markets, trailer parks and other venues.

This week, the trio have been camping at Read the rest of this story at Otago Daily Times…
lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz