Since we arrived at the Downer’s land at Shepherd’s Peak, we’ve been amazed at the progress they have made on their house. Last year, David helped Pat with the construction of the shed house, and so to return and see it almost completed is inspiring.

Aisha walking along a grassy path, March 2012
From where our truck is parked on the track, we take a narrow path through the grass to reach the Downers' main campsite.

Downers' campsite at Shepherd's Peak, March 2012
While their house is still under construction, Pat and Mandy are living in their tent. At the moment, Mandy's mum Janet is living in the caravan. When the weather gets too wet for them, they can take refuge at a friend's house down on the flat, but they've been living like this for several months now.

Brioni playing with sand, March 2012
As well as jumping on the trampoline and exploring the gardens, the girls are always happy to play in the sand piles.

Our tent at Shepherd's Peak, March 2012
We've set up our tent to provide extra under-cover play areas for the children. Although we bought our tent last April, this is the first time we've actually used it. It's very satisfying to see it erected and appreciated.

Both families have enjoyed the girls’ reunion. After very little time, Shasa, Tierra, Aisha, Brioni, Calista and Delaney have been playing together nicely. Their play flows between the different camps on the land. We have our horse truck, a tent, Janet’s caravan, the main house and all the gardens in between. They haven’t complained about being bored yet.

David walking down the Downers' path, March 2012
David walks down the track from where our truck is parked. He's carrying something to the brand-new kitchen in the house.

Pat and Mandy in their house, March 2012
With the help of friends, Pat and Mandy have worked hard over the past six months to get their small house to this state. Although it still isn't finished, we can use the kitchen and congregate in the living areas.

Tierra, Delaney, Calista and Shasa, March 2012
The girls love spending time in the new house, apparently oblivious to its unfinished state.

Tierra, Brioni, Mandy and Elijah, March 2012
The house is oriented so the morning sun streams in the front windows, warming it up for the rest of the day.

View over Fern Flat, March 2012
This is the view from Pat and Mandy's kitchen window. Isn't it glorious?

Mandy, Shasa and Helena, March 2012
German tourist Helena has become friends with Pat and Mandy after staying with them for a couple days last year.

Helena’s experience of New Zealand has been very similar to ours. She was here last year, made many special friends in a small locale and fell in love with the country. She returned to Germany, worked hard to save money and has now returned so she could revisit all her friends.

Girls digging in the dirt, March 2012
One evening, the girls start digging in the unfinished dirt floors, experimenting with tools and pressure.

We’re hoping that while we’re here we can help Pat and Mandy to finish off a bit more on their house. They’d like to be fully moved in before winter, and so we’ll contribute through labour, cooking, child-minding and encouragement.