Cambria – A Hugger’s Paradise

Some of the most enjoyable travel experiences are those which are unplanned.  Whilst I do love to research and plan before travelling to new locations, I also like to go with the flow and take advantage of any opportunities that arise along the way.

Over a beer with the locals at the Vulcan Hotel in St Bathans, a really cool little town in the middle of Central Otago in New Zealand, I mentioned to the friendly folks that I was a photographer visiting from Australia and would they be able to share their knowledge on any great spots for me to photograph.  Whilst my main intent was to photograph the lake and surrounding landscapes of St Bathans, getting some unique shots of the area is always a travelling photographer’s delight.

I should mention that there was never any more than six people in the pub at any one time, and legend has it that the ghost of Rosie, a lady of the night who was murdered at the pub and her body was found down in the lake, still haunted the pub!

As I was the only house guest on the first night, I declined the option to stay in the haunted room.   Yep….I was piked out!

People always love to help and I was advised that I should go on up to Cambria and meet “Bob”.  I was warned to watch out for him because he was a hugger!

I didn’t know what to expect but the next day I thought I would check out this place called Cambria where Bob the Hugger had created his own man made forest.

I came across the first of many interesting signs on the dirt road leading into Cambria.  It provided directions to Lower, Middle and Upper Cambria.  I chuckled as I realised that each area only consisted of about six houses.

Then another sign asking me did I want to go “here” or “there”


I chose “here” and ended up at the forest.


I parked the car and was immediately greeted by “Bob” who gave me a big hug and genuinely welcomed me to his piece of paradise on earth. He was beside himself that someone had taken the time to seek out his little piece of paradise and to come and admire his handiwork.


Bob had painstakingly planted thousands of beautiful trees which were now in full autumn splendour.


In amongst the forest were a number of quirky objects and were testament to his sense of humour.


Nothing but the best….silverware and a welcome drink for guests


The forest was a quiet meditative place for some.


Sold in St Bathans” – I am sure Bob has plans for that old washing machine….one day!


Curiosity will lead you to mysterious places in the forest.


There are places to rest your weary exploring feet…..albeit a little rustic!


Plenty of old cars for the motor enthusiast to see


Of course every good forest needs a submarine. Bob told me that this one was a work in progress. “I have just got to build up the bank at the back and wait for some rain”, he said.

Take the time to meet the locals on your next trip, you never know where you might end up.

It sure was a pleasure to find this little treasure, and of course you can never have too many hugs!