Bone Carving & Punakaiki Cavern – Day 108

Maori Bone Carving and Caving in Punakaiki

Today we are carving our own Maori necklaces then checking out the Punakaiki Cavern!

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Video Transcript:

So today I am going to carve Laura the best [New Zealand] souvenir ever.

This morning we are heading to the little town of Barrytown which is located about 20 minutes away from Punakaiki and there we are going to be looking for the Skeleton Crew Carving Studio. It’s rather off the beaten track at the end of a gravel road then through a field then through a forest and then finally there is a little shack there is nothing more authentic than that.

there we are going to be meeting Karen and here enthusiastic dogs. She has about three dogs there. They are super playful, super friendly, and turns out they are going to be great entertainment during this long carving process.

First things first we need to choose a design for our bone pendants and the traditional thing that the Maori used to do was gift these pendants to each other so that’s what Robin and I are going to be doing today. First we are going to choose our own designs and then get each other to carve that for us. In short, I pick a design that Laura will be carving for me and she picks a design that I will be carving for her. And the first thing to do is to print that design onto a piece of bone so we can cut it into a rough shape which will be easier to work with.

So we’re not exactly using traditional carving methods here but it actually made super easy because at the bone carving studio there is every tool that we need. there’s these wheels which sand down the excess bone, there are all these little hand tools so we can do some more detailed work as well. There’s really everything here.

The carving process is quite long. First up we need to kind of get rid of all the excess bone around the rough shape that we just cut. To do that we use a sanding little machine that helps us kind of reduce the amount of bone around so then after we can start working on the final detail. This takes us a good 2 hours to get the whole bone into a correct and workable shape.

But the great thing about the Skeleton Crew Carving Studio is that Karen is super hands on and she makes sure that everybody has her attention so she keeps on walking around the room making sure she’s giving us pointers and also kind of fixing a few mistakes. Admittedly, I did need help for that very reason two or three times. But soon enough we come up with a shape which is getting really close to our final product and then we can start working on the final touches.

The devil is really in the details and this is the section which takes us the longest to do. We’re trying to make those edges just right add some extra little carvings to our designs as well and this just makes a really cool souvenir that we can carve ourselves, we’ve made it our own, and yeah, makes an awesome souvenir for friends and family back home or just for each other.

We chose our designs as per the meaning that Maori used to put into this little pendant. I am having a simple hook which shows strength and determination, and Laura is having a double knot which shows bonding and infinity as well as a hook at the end which shows strength and determination as well.

After putting on the final touches and polishing our final product we are now done and it’s time for us to change our pendants. They look absolutely awesome. I really do love them. And when making our way to the Punakaiki Cavern I am stoked with my pendant and showing it to every single car that passes by.

None of them see them but I am just proud as. The Punakaiki Cavern is just a 10-minute walk from our accommodation at the Punakaiki Beach Camp and it’s just off the side of the road so literally it’s no effort to get here, you just walk down some steps and here you are this whole cavern which you can explore at your own will.

Although this is not the biggest cave in New Zealand, this is still a massive space which is really fun to explore and it has some really awesome features including a lion style rock right in the middle that I will be able to climb and take some awesome pictures in. Laura and I really had fun inside this cavern but we would recommend you guys to come with a better torch light than our cell phones because well we just didn’t come prepared enough.

There is an awesome section of the cavern with a massive beam of light coming through and this gives a perfect photo opportunity. In fact, while we are in the cavern, we saw up to three groups of people that came in and just to take some pictures right on that very rock. Apparently they did find it on Instagram. By the way you guys can follow us on Instagram @backpackerguide.nz Robin does his good deed for today picking up some rubbish left behind I guess by some other tourists but we are heading back now to the Punakaiki Beach for another night here.

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