Kashmir Pashmina

Kashmir Pashmina


The god of small things is what comes to my mind when I think about India, the hustle and bustle of the busy streets and every little thing seems to have a place. Everything is there at the same time and will be ever so present. There is no hidden poverty like we have in our western world, it is right there in front of you and it is truly an adaptation to your perception and your senses. You will not be able to switch to a different channel because you do not want to see what is going on in the world and put your 50 dollars into the United Nations donation box to boost your moral and step into your hot shower and complain about the water pressure. No India has it all, and it can be an overload, but so very rewarding once you have let go and start to surrender.

Mr Goat -1772

Our goal is to move up the ladder of corporate success and when we find ourselves in a job that does not match with the glossy magazines and lifestyle shows on TV we seem to get depressed if we can’t find a way out and live the life we should be living according to the media. In India people will take pride in what they do, and if you are making Chai Tea, then you make Chai tea, and you put your heart and soul into it.

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While I was on my way to India I got offered a photography job in Srinagar, which is in Kashimer. I would be documenting the pashmina making process, the spinning of the yarn, the weaving, the colouring and the embroiding, all done by hand. I spend some time in Mumbai first as I had some things I needed to get done there. I can say I liked Mumbai very much when I arrived. Coming from good old little Queenstown, Mumbai is a big change, but like everything, you get used to it and adapt and after a while you can even see the beauty in things.

Mr Goat -1823

Srinagar seemed to be a different world, the climate and the religion but the same warmth you find everywhere else in India. Don’t think you will not get stopped every time you walk on the streets or that you get local rates. They don’t have a base income and a family to feed. After the last war and kidnap in the early ’90 the Kashmir area has suffered a lot from the absence of tourists and then an all destroying flood in 2015 has put the area under pressure. Put corruption on top and you have a good mix for a hard environment to live in.


On my arrival I met Rashid, who’s family is involved in the Pashmina business for generations and he would come along with me on my photo shoot after his trip to Delhi. He knows all the Artisans in the area and was able to give me a good insight in the amount of love and work that goes into making one of these Shawls. I was doing the photoshoot for www.mrgoat.co.uk . Tim, contacted me while I was on my way to India because he needed a photographer and I was just on my way. I was going to document the making of a stunning piece of art. There are pashminas made by machines, but not these ones. These are handmade, every little bit of it. The spinning of the wool is the only bit which is not done by hand anymore and from what I could understand is that, like most trades, these ones will fade away in a few years too as machines take over the process. Machines how ever, can never put their heart and soul into a shawl.

Mr Goat -1735

It was an amazing process to watch and I could not believe the amount of work that goes into making one of these shawls, the embroiders could sit on a piece for month or almost a year. They would not work full on one shawl of course, but would work on it when ever they can. They would take the shawl with them and work on it at a friends place or sit together in a group and have a good old yarn while embroiding. I think it must be very therapeutic. It was such a delight to watch these people taking pride in what they do and do it with such perfection. I think this will show in the shawls MrGoat sells as they are all pieces of art and so soft. Pashmina has a 3 times higher insulation than merino but is so much lighter.

I loved my time up in Srinagar and was lucky to meet Rashid, who showed me around and told me all about the area. I got myself measured up for some tailor made suits and from there came a new business idea but I will leave that for another story soon….


If you want to check out some of these amazing pashminas have a look on www.mrgoat.co.uk



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I am desperately trying to find reference points, but they do not seem to exist. A pattern or a guiding light into some direction, none of that is present at the moment and it puts me in a very observing state. I have never been the biggest goal setter, things would normally come my way and when I would set goals, I would achieve them and they sometimes manifested faster then I thought. This is different though, I quit my job and for the first time, I had no real goal, just some ideas and vague plans, but knew anything would be open and I was about to embark on a journey of change, that is what I set out to do and that is what I got. I wanted and needed change and in my head it is like ripping out all the old weeds and sowing new things, I have no idea what the end result will look like, all I know is where to sow them.

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My initial ‘plan’ was to walk parts of the South Island, and I have been doing a few tracks, some of them I had done before and some new ones, tracks which were on the things to do list. But the plan changed a bit and I pulled out of some walks I was planning to do and chipping my front teeth again meant I had to get them fixed. After a little research I stumbled on this website in India, Mumbai. That was totally not the plan, but I quit my job and with no solid income I was looking for a cheaper option! A re-root and two new porcelain crowns are not cheap here and it’s a fraction of the price in Mumbai. I also had a wedding invitation in Pune, which for Indian standard is just around the corner from Pune. I rang my mum and she just saw a documentary about a Dutch dentist who went to have a look at the Dental service in Mumbai and was very impressed. So all things pointed to India, still I have no Idea what is waiting for me there, it can’t be just my teeth?

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My ticket is for 3 month, but do you think I have any idea what I am going to do there? This seems to be the state of my mind for the last month and I am accepting it as much as I am fighting it, don’t I need a plan, a destination? Is it good to just let go and float? It feels weird and new to me but maybe this is what I need to do to get to new waters. My only goal is change, but is that a goal itself?

I was born in India and I will be there for my birthday, I want to visit the hospital I was born in, if it’s still there and do a meditation course in the place I was supposed to be born, but that is all the plans I have. I have no plans for when I get back to NZ.

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I think it’s the mind that just can’t seem to handle this. This state of not knowing where to go, no plan, no direction, just existing, that is what the mind can’t handle.

I can hear it scream, ‘what will happen, what will happen’ and I just don’t know.

I wonder has anyone ever been on a journey where you had no idea where you were going? And isn’t it ironic that when I quit my job, everybody was asking, and still is, what are you going to do, the one question I did not want to hear. Sometimes all you want to do is eat and sleep and have no other big plans and goals.


So, in a little bit more then two weeks I will board the plane to India and land in Mumbai, the place where ‘Shantaram’ took place. If you have not read that book, I can highly recommend it!!! This is one of the best books I have read and the main character is on a similar journey in essence as he has no real control and just has to surrender. I am looking forward to the experience and things to come and will try to let my images do the talking.





All good things take time, they say! It took me 10 years to finally drag my ass up Ben Lomond and make it up to Lochnagar and the walk up to Lochnagar took me a life time, not sure if that was a good thing though. Climbing up a steep slope on slippery grass through thick bush and ‘Spaniards’ to remind you of your poor trail reading skills and push their needle sharp spikes in your legs and hands every time you slide back down the hill, which was with every step.


Now this might sound worse then it is! The drive in to The Branches station is spectacular but you will need a 4×4 and some experience on narrow dusty roads. There is not much room to maneuver when the guys from the Bungee or Rafting come out the valley with their busses. We saw a lady driving into the valley with a 2 wheel drive rental, sure she must have been looking for the crown range, and on passing she looked at me like a rabbit in headlights. (Do not take your rental car here!!! No insurance will cover you!)


If you would like to go into the Valley and past The Branches station, make sure you get the Email from DOC and contact James and get in touch with him. This is not a DOC track and there are no markers.

The first bit of the trail is fairly easy, you can follow the river bed when the water is low, or follow the 4×4 trail, I don’t think you can get lost on the first section to be honest and this did not take me much time at all, so I was very optimistic for an early arrival at Lake Lochnagar.



Spirits were still high when I started my climb up to Lochnagar, a wide path was leading into the valley and I’m sure somebody must have tried to take a car up to the lake, those back country farmers have no fear I think. I learned from my previous mistakes and if I loose the trail I go back and retrace my steps to find the trail again before I carry on. Because this is not a very busy route, you have to concentrate, I tend to be up in Lala land when I walk and easily loose the trail when it takes a sharp turn. The Maps show that the trail stops at some stage so when I got to the ‘Goatel’ rock bivouac I could not find the trail and thought, this must be the spot where it ends and took a left here, only to realize on my descend 2 days later that there is a trail and I missed it by 2 meters! In my defense I must say, it was not easy to see, and the guys I met in the hut agreed!

This is where the horrible scramble started and by the end I was questioning why I am doing this? This was not fun, adventure yes, but fun? So when I finally got to the top and the lake and the hut I had a cup of Tea and just went to sleep, I was too tired to do anything. I did wake up just before sunset and knew this must have been an amazing sunset in Queenstown, but I could only see the tail end of it.


I was so tired, I felt I could curl up and sleep for a week, but the wind thought differently and kept me up for most of the night. The views of the lake in the morning with the impressive mountains surrounding it were the reward for all that hard work. I made myself a cuppa and went for a little stroll in the area, and ofcourse, I found the trail I should have take up the hill! At this stage I was not quit sure if I wanted to stay for another day or not and decided I would have a little snooze first . The weather had not been great and I was not happy with my photos and the current light conditions so I did not really want to go down and have 2 photos from the trip that I was happy with, chances that I will be back here any time soon would be pretty slim.

4.30 pm there was a knock on the door and I woke up from my snooze and Bram and Haydn stood at the door and looked like I must have looked the day before. Totally shattered and I was actually quit pleased to hear that they lost the trail too and took an even harder route up. So we had a story to share and it was nice to have some company in the hut. Their plan was to pack raft to the other side of the lake, then climb up the wall and drop into the Rees Valley and pack raft out to Glenorchy, but the wind was too strong and we all got up early and packed our bags for the return trip to the car park

It was so easy and the walk to the car did not take any time at all, we kept laughing how easy the walk on the trail is and how we suffered the day before. We still had to stop a few times and make sure we are on the right trail but we got to the ‘Goate’ rock bivouac with ease and marked the trail a bit better for other trampers. When we got to the Subterranean Outlet Lookout we put some more markers up, this is where the other 2 guys went the wrong way, and we continued our walk down the hill. A flying fox and a few river crossing later and we got back to the car and drove to Queenstown for a ice cold beer! Beer must have been invented for moments like this, it never tasted better!

This walk is for experienced walkers only! Check in with DOC for more info or drop me a line.



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As some might know I quit my job, gave up my flat, put my stuff in storage and left the comfort of all this consciously. They say life starts outside your comfort zone, so in other words, my life has just started. It always sounds amazing when you read about somebody else doing this, you get all inspired, but to put yourself into this position of is a different story. For weeks I could not sleep as I had to hand in my notice but I just felt I had to as I was not moving forward in my job and I was leaning back to much, my weekly pay check, a nice flat and all other comforts. I did not have anything else planned, I had no other job to go to, the only thing which I wanted to do and am doing is doing some amazing walks on the South Island of New Zealand and for the rest, I am letting things reshape themselves.

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Once you make a step like this, I think it’s like changing diets, change will happen on so many levels and the hard part is to keep faith. I don’t think I have ever felt like this before, like being spun around by a big wave. You become quiet, you will have to, as you will need to listen to the new sounds, the new experiences and you will react differently to them as what you have done before.

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So today it is time to book the tickets to India, my place of birth, and all I know is that I am going to a wedding there and getting my teeth fixed, but nothing else is planned and that is part of it. If you want change, you will have to be open to new experiences and some can be a bit scary, but is that not the way you learned to ride a bike? Funny in a way how we become rigid when we get older.

I can admit, reading Shantaram was an inspiration for me. If you have not read the book

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I’m looking forward to India and I’m excited what will come on my path. But before I go, I will explore a few more corners of New Zealand and I will share the beautiful landscapes with you.


Bear Grylls Style

Lake Wilson and Routeburn -9491

If you haven’t used equipment for a while, make sure you check it before you use it! Or do like me, and grab your tent and arrive at the location after a 6 hour walk and start unpacking your tent and wonder where the ground sheet is. My mind was saying, not ideal, but I guess it should be fine without groundsheet, only to realise that the pegs are with the ground sheet. Well, this is pretty dumb isn’t it? That is how I felt, especially after a hard walk in and all geared up to take some amazing shots of this amazing lake!

That is when you sit down and have a cup of tea first and look at your options, with all these massive rocks around I figured there is a chance to find a rock shelter. So only by chance I found this rock shelter which had been used before, the little stone wall was what pointed it out to me, or else I could have walked straight passed it fro the angle I was looking at it. I spend the next two hours collecting dry grass and building up the wall a bit more, in the end I had the most amazing time sleeping there on a bed of hay and a sleeping matt.

Lake Wilson and Routeburn -9506

Early dinner on the first night as I wanted to check out the place to shoot a possible nice sunset. It was very cloudy but I could see a little blue sky to the south, so that gave me hope that the clouds would only hang over the mountains but there is clear sky to the west, and that means that when the sun sets, it hits the clouds from underneath and lights them up like fire. I guess that is the advantage of living here and having this knowledge. To my luck, this happened and I was treated to an everlasting sunset! You sometimes feel guilty for spending time to capture it on camera and not sit back and enjoy the moment. Well, you do as a photographer, but you are also thinking about angles, settings, processing, posting and all the work that comes after the images is done, on top of that you need to control your excitement and because it was just me there I could not even share the moment.

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My rock shelter was so cosy, there is something magical sleeping out in the open under a rock, feeling the wind and listening to the sound of splashing water from the nearby stream. Waking up in the morning with birds chirping and hoofs galloping away as soon as they smelled my presence, there are some big animals living in this valley or come up for a morning graze.

It was time climb the mountain and get myself into a bit more trouble, hahaha. I walked up mount Erebus but left it a bit late and the snow conditions as I later noticed got a bit slushy, which is not good if you climb up at a 45 degree angle or more. Half way up I had a sit down and faced my fears, I am not a big fan of heights and don’t like steep drops. As I sat down this hare came towards me and then went under a rock. But when he came from under that rock he walked straight towards me, about a meter away from me, passed me and then ran away. I was amazed how close he got, but I sat perfectly still, had the wind blowing up the mountain and the sun behind me, so the hare had not even seen me. In other words, he had not seen what his fear, but when he saw me he realised the danger.

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It was quit a mind blowing moment, fear and danger.. something we only too often see as one. So instead of heading down, I carried up, only to stop 30 meters away from the top, I face my fear, but respected the danger. The last bit was just too dangerous to go up and the sun was burning on the snow and made it go all soft, soft enough that I actually went down the other side of the mountain and scrambled down the rocks, which were snow free from the burning sun. I felt safe, even as it was a bit tricky at times and I could feel my body tensing up from fear.

Back in my rock shelter I slept for most the afternoon, shattered from climbing up and the emotions had taken it out of me. Snooze time and ready for another sunset.

I walked out the next day, and being at the top of the lake, I could see an easier route down and I was back at the car park in no time, the luxury of the well paved Routeburn Track helps. Coffee time in Glenorchy and then push myself up the next mountain to McIntosh hut and Mount McIntosh……………Lake Wilson and Routeburn -9412




To truly come alive sometimes means to immerse yourself in natature and find yourself sitting on a rock after scrambling up and down a steep bank trying to find a trail and realize how fragile life can be, one slip and it could be all over. It’s mixed emotions of fear and a brain that seems to only think in ‘what if’s and how will I ever…’ The purity of all this is, that all else becomes irrelevant, your Iphone, your new car, the house you are living in and all other life comforts. And once you sit down on this rock with your head in your hands and breathe, a deep breath you will move forward again, the only thing that counts is staying alive.

This almost sounds like a repeat story of 7 years ago when I got lost in the Hollyford Valley, looking back at it, I was lucky to get lost 7 years ago. If I had made it to the Pyke valley under the extreme weather conditions 7 years ago I would not want to think of the trouble I would have gotten myself into, so lucky in being unlucky.

The Hollyford is a challenging walk. The first bit to lake Alabaster hut is the easy bit, but once you get onto the trail it becomes pretty slippery, the trail has been blasted out the mountain and it mainly rocks and big boulders. It’s a south facing trail with little to no sunshine and all the rain means the rocks are very slippery, which makes every step a guess if your boot will cling to the rock, or slip right or left.
If you’re a fit walker your first stop would be Lake McKerrow hut, which sits on a nice little island and the bottom of lake Mckerrow, there is a fire place in the hut and with all the drift wood on the beach it is not hard to find fuel for a cosy evening. The next day depending on your fitness level you can either go to the Demon Hut, or the next one, Hokiro Hut, which took me 6 hours to get to, but I’m a fast walker.
There was so much rain that night that I was not even sure if I could make it to Martins bay the next day, lucky the rain stopped in the morning so the water in some of the creeks had dropped a fair bit and on the big streams there are some long wire bridges. There is something very exhilarating about walking waste deep through rivers and knowing there will be a hut with a fire place at the end to warm you up and dry your socks. It warms up your heart.
The walk to Martins bay did not take very long, once you are out of the bush line you will follow the beach and the grass fields, you can smell the ocean. Martins bay is where you will get to see seals and if you are lucky penguins. It’s a great hut and its very easy to spend a few days here, but if you plan to walk back but don’t want to walk the trail again, you can go to the Martins bay lodge and book a jet boat back, which will get you to back to the nice part of the trail past McKerrow hut.
Now from here the wilderness really starts, it takes a day to walk to Big Bay and if you plan to go to big bay, I would say, don’t follow the markers that say big bay, but make your way to the northern beach at the seal colony and walk on the beach the whole way. There will be lots of seals for about 1km of your walk, so take it slow if you don’t want to die of sudden heart attack when one of those big bulls roars at you from behind a rock, or die by bad breath, their breath smells like a can of sardines fermented for a month. A tip if you like mussels, once you get to the actual main beach, big bay, the 3rd last big rock in the water is covered with massive green mussels if the tide is out and there are some pots in the hut big enough to cook them in. Yummy!!
Don’t count on getting any sleep in big bay, unless it’s winter. I successfully hunted 200 mosquito’s and gave up the count after that. I felt like a flight deck carrier being dive bomb by high pitched fighter mozzies. So get yourself a $20 mozzie net and bobs your uncle.

I had to wait a day for the weather to clear before heading into the Pyke valley. This was going to be a long day, the Olivine hut is a about 10 hours away if your fast, I have read reports of 15 hours. And I will stay, if it rains, stay in the hut!! The Pyke is wild and if you don’t have a locator beacon and enough experience you will get yourself into big trouble. Once you reach the Pyke from Big Bay, you will follow the river and I mean you will walk through the river bed for a bit till you reach the Pyke River. When I got close to the Pyke I could see some hunting gear, gps units, solar showers and smelly boots drying in the sun. This is a good hunting area, so if your lucky, you get treated to bush taka, paua fritters, coffee and chocolate and a bit of banter. This is what I love so much about going into these areas. On so many occasion I have been treated to a stiff drink and venison fillet. If your vegetarian you still get a stiff drink as that is just barely or fermented potatoes.
The route from here to Olive is challenging! Most parts are ok in good weather conditions, just the entrance to the trail at the northern end of lake Wilmot can be a bit tricky to find, with a gps it should not be an issue at all.
If your lucky, and the last party who did the walk did it anti clock wise, then you will find the cable cart just before Olivine hut to be on your side, if not, role up your sleeves and pull this rusty wire 100 meters across and then back to the other side with you in it. It’s an experience! Once you get to the others side there is a welcomes committee of sandflies, drooling from the heat you are radiating. You will be radiating so much heat, that if Stevie Wonder was a sandfly he could find you in the dark. Lucky, your only 200 meters away from the hut, dinner time!

Another long day ahead, pretty much a lot of the same of the previous day, thick bush and small trails, overgrown markers on some spots and the occasional loss of trail due to being in deep thought, hey after 7 days in the bush you will start to develop a ‘Wilson’ syndrome. If you want to leave Olive after torrential rain, please don’t. If lake Alabaster is high you will find you might have to swim parts, as the trail literally goes along the water front, so save yourself two hours by trying to find the trail. There are No markers and the old trail is from 20 years ago and you can just imagine how overgrown that one is. By all means, if you have a machete and feel like doing a good deed, open up the old trail, you can sporadically see the old marker and random flip flop, wondering if its only a lost flip flop or if there is somebody down that cliff.

If you are looking for a bit of wilderness and have 7 to 8 days up your sleeve, the Big Bay – Pyke route is a great experience, though at times but the scenery is stunning.



Stewart Island-4968

7 years ago I packed my bag and took of into the Hollyford valley and the plan was to walk out via the Pyke, a river known for it’s high volumes of water and tricky crossings. The walk to big bay was good and I can only recommend to make it to big bay as it is one of the most magical places. The rain that came in the next day had me pack early and try to make it to the Pyke river as quick as I could. I had tried to memorise the map and was walking at a steady pace and when I came to a big river bed after 2 hours walking, I was puzzled what the fuss was about, hardly any water in what I thought to be the Pyke, I crossed the stream and made one mistake after another. First, this was not the Pyke, but the a different river bed leading into the Waiuna lagoon. I also crossed and did not look for the marker as I thought I was in a different spot and thought if I follow this stream I get to the path, as the is what I memorised from the map. Deeper and deeper did I get into the wilderness and waist deep in water at times, I did not know, but was heading straight for the lagoon. The clouds were low and it was pouring with rain, but I still tried to find that path instead of turning back and what made it worse, I thought I could hear the river I was trying to find, but in reality, that was still the ocean. I had thoughts of blowing up my dry bags and jumping into the now swollen little streams and float to the river, but somehow sense told me I would die from hypothermia. I carried on and the vegetation became so think I could hardly walk, I was truly in the swamp and the only path I could find was a deer trail.
And then everything opened up, and I stood at the edge of the lagoon, my thoughts were playing tricks on me. I was not due out for another 7 days, who was going to look for me, my survival hammock was no good in the swamp, what if I break a leg or spear myself on a hidden branch. My hands were numb from the cold and I was soaking wet, this is where I made the choice not to carry on to olivine hut but try to get out. I took my compass and started setting way points to the north, I knew there was a mountain range north, and I had to get to higher grounds and get dry and warm. Still the only trail was a deer trail, which I lost and then found again. My hands and legs were cut to bits by the sharp waiver grasses but after 3 hours I got to a higher and dry spot. I put my pack down and got my camping stove out, I needed to warm up from the inside and as I was sitting there, I looked up and there was this massive stag, about 20 meters away from me, looking at me and then slowly walked away. That was one of the most magical moments in my life, it was his path, that saved my life and he knew! I then stumbled on a hunters trail market by little pink ribbons and found my way back to the main path when a quad bike passed me with a local white baiter and a friend. I ended up having a hot shower there, a beer and food and once I had regained some strength I walked to Martins bay and then out.

So, now it is time to go back and walk out via the Pyke.


One day you wake up and realise you can’t do some of the things you wanted to do

One day you wake up and realise you can’t do some of the things you wanted to do

Stewart Island

I have quit my job, a good job and I will move out of my flat this coming Sunday to do something I have wanted to do for a long time. It was not an easy choice and a choice I could have easily not made and keep leaning back into the comfort of a weekly income and a place to sleep and food in the fridge. But as nice as this might sound, the feeling that there is so much more out there became stronger and stronger and it was time to go.
Sleepless nights and very large doubts, which are still there, weather I made the correct choice. This, however is something you will only find out once you look back, but at the same time, there is no such thing as the ‘wrong choice’ I could have stayed in my job for years, but if that would have truly challenged me, I doubt it.

I do not have solid plans, and that is good and scary at the same time. I will start with walking parts or the whole length of the South Island and will stay in DOC huts, I could be there for days in order to capture the beauty of this country. Not having any plans means I can be open to any opportunity on my path and who knows, I could end up somewhere I had not thought about and that is so exciting.

I must say I have had a lot of help from friends who would tell me ‘what do you have to loose?’ and it is true, what do I have to loose. Looking back on my life I have always managed, always landed on my feet, always had a bed, food and work….so what do I have to loose and what am I so scared of? To loose the comfortable chair and scared that I will not get it back? This notion is a big limitation for a lot of us, as we get scared to let go, scared something less perfect will come into that place. Evolution will however always give you an upgrade.

So, I will start walking soon and see what will happen. I will keep you updated, either via this blog or instagram.

“Is it only when we loose everything we realise we have nothing to loose, or when we give up everything we realise we have everything to gain” Govinda Niels Koervers