Wednesday, 9 July 2008
The Southern Alps from Christchurch, my home town.
"This is my land and I am firmly rooted in it, " wrote Albert Wendt, the great New Zealand writer. On Monday I am returning for a three week holiday. My God, I need a break ! It is almost two years since I was last in New Zealand. After working with the Tsunami and Yogyakarta earthquake recovery operations as well as long term development programmes in Indonesia, I can almost smell "the green, green grass of home."
Oysters, green-lipped mussels (pictured above), blue cod, juicy tomatoes and sausages spring to mind when I think of home. I am drooling about my trip on Tuesday into a Christchurch supermarket. And then there are the bookshops to explore before the mountain trips.
In Jakarta I dream of visiting my old haunts such as Pioneer Pass at the head of the Fox Glacier. I hope I can get my old friend Alex Miller to fly me in, in one of his Mount Cook ski planes. At 68, he must bs the oldest ski plane pilot in the World.
I hope I can join up with Bruce Watson and travel from Hokitika down the west coast of the South Island to Okarito, and look across the lagoon to the Southern Alps.
Old friends Alex Miller (l) and Bruce Watson (r). Alex the ski plane owner and piolt and Bruce the conservationist and bookseller.
I want Alex to fly me into the head of the Tasman Glacier and view Aoraki Mount Cook again, a peak I climbed 3 times when I was younger.
A Grand traverse, an ascent by the east ridge and another by the Linda Glacier.
The ski plane has been around for 60 years in the Mount Cook region and is still a great way to travel to the feet of the mountains. Alex Miller first flew me in 1971 to the Malte Brun strip.
So what does my land look from space ? The central and northern South Island from somewhere up there..
Today, Friday night, I just returned from Banda Aceh where the Red Cross has been working for well over three and a half years. The progres on reconstruction/rehabilitation is outstanding and I feel OK about leaving Amara, my deputy, in charge for three weeks.
To see my five daughters and my three grand children will be the greatest joy. Young Billy, who was born six months ago, I have yet to see.
Roll on Tuesday morning and that flight over the Southern Alps and the landing on the green, green grass of home.