The Farmer, the Pigs, and the Pups - Thursday, December 26, 2002

In search of better weather (our continuing mission), hiking, and fishing, we motored SE to the Nelson Lakes National Park area to the towns of St. Arnaud and Murchinson. We drove right into a massive rain storm-perhaps left over from Xmas Eve? Some folks have all the luck! Again another drive with AMAZING scenery- more alpine-like. We had hoped to complete our 2nd trek (4-day hike) in these mountains but the crappy weather (late spring snow) and residual soreness (M's inflamed ankle) from our 1st trek prevented this. Bummer! The rains raised the rivers too high which scuttled Dave's plan to fish in this world-renowned area.

We know that we are lucky to be travelling around the world, not working, without a care in the world, so complaining feels a bit trite. We'd just like to catch a break with the weather and reverse our bad karma!!!! We are still having a blast though...

After several hours of looking for fishable water on every creek and river over the 50 mile stretch between St. Arnaud and Murchison to no avail, we pulled into the Owen River tavern for a much needed break. After good beer and a surprisingly tasty Chinese dinner at this country tavern, we managed to pry ourselves away for the very drunk and talkative local farmers. We decided that this would be a good time to call around the area to see if any WWOOF hosts needed help. The reason for participating in WWWOOFing is to get a taste of the local culture and feel somewhat productive. The best part of the trip is chatting with the locals! It turned out that a farmer right around the corner from the tavern didn't have any work for us but offered a place for us to park the van for the night and wash up.

This large, gregarious farmer named Maurice (looked like a crusty old mountain man) was holding down the fort while his wife was on a covered wagon horse trek for a few days. They used to be milk cattle farmers outside Auckland before scaling down and moving to the South Island. They now have 2 horses, 27 milking cows, a goat, domestic pig (Gertrude), 3 adult dogs, and 19 puppies, as well as a rental cottage down by the Owen River. This would've been an ideal place to WWOOF for a week with many local hikes and good fishing access. It's pretty obvious that Maurice missed the companionship of his friends on the North Island, as he chatted us up with gruesome farm tales until 1am! After a quick breakfast and a tour of the farm, we headed west feeling all the better for hooking up with some colorful locals.

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