image of Karearea Bells, Eyrewell Forest

If You Can’t Get to the Bells, then Bring the Bells to You

After the earthquakes in Christchurch Terry and I escaped to the country for a while and settled in Twizel, in the beautiful Mackenzie Basin in the middle of New Zealand’s South Island. It is a lovely community and we are very happy here, but it is the first place we have ever lived that doesn’t have a ringing tower nearby. First Church, Dunedin is the closest at 3 hours by car and Papanui, Christchurch is 4 hours away.

We built ourselves a house, and then added a barn. Once the builders handed this barn over to us we had one of those 'lightbulb' moments when it seemed possible, maybe, to fit a mini ring in the roof.

Home of the Karearea Bells

Home of the Karearea Bells, and the deputy assistant ringing master!

We have known Matthew Higby since he was a very young man and it was Matthew who had been our first contact from overseas after the earthquake to offer help to the Christchurch ringers. And, indeed, he will have some involvement in the building of the Transitional Ringing Facility. But we had dabbled in mini rings with him in Somerset before emigrating to New Zealand and had always thought that we would love our own set eventually. So, with advice from Matthew on the sizing, we ordered a set of eight bells with a 10lb tenor.

We didn’t quite realise it was going to take nearly 18 months for our bells to arrive. Sadly some of that delay was because Richard Bowditch died before he was able to cast our set. Shipping seemed to take forever, but eventually a large crate arrived on our doorstep late one Friday night in March 2015.

With a little bit of help from our friendly joiner, Phil, we planned a wooden framework on which the bells would be fitted. Phil had no idea what was required, but with a certain amount of 'trial and error' (including a moment when we nearly ended up with an anti-clockwise ring), the bells were put in place just in time for a visit from Mike Clayton and Mark Harris from Christchurch.

OK, so we’ve only rung minimus so far, but we all found that a fair challenge. We have considerable local interest and have already started showing a few people how it is done. Teaching handling on a mini ring is easier than on big church bells, but I am determined that we will teach people in readiness for them to move onto 'proper' ringing later. Many of our local children go to University in Christchurch or Dunedin so it would be good to see them progress into tower bell ringing at that stage.

Our mini-ring is called 'Karearea' after the Maori name for the New Zealand falcon. We are very lucky to see this rare bird in our garden occasionally. It is the first mini ring in New Zealand (although Wellington are only just behind us) and the most southerly mini-ring in the World.

Ringers are most welcome to come and try out our little bells. We are holding our first ringing festival on the first weekend in May 2015, and we would really like to see some of you that weekend. If there is enough interest we will arrange some quarter peals and the first peal. A poster advertising the event can be found here and you are welcome to request further details from . Accommodation is fairly easy to find in Twizel as it is a popular holiday destination, but do contact us if you plan to come and require a place to stay.

And to keep up-to-date with events, please 'like' our Facebook page at

Terry and I look forward to welcoming you to Karearea Bells sometime soon.

Mandy Spearing

This page supplements the ANZAB Mini-Ring and Simulator Directory, and records further information about the ring or simulator and its ringers.

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