You’re in NZ again??

I’m hiking Te Araroa (again?). Just the south island this time around and are back with ambition. With my pack at a whopping 38L, I’ve cut my teeth from my hike in the north island a few years back. It’s fun, it’s hard, the views can be subpar or they can be grand, but really it’s the atmosphere that keeps me walking. 

It was hard trying to condition my body into hiking shape within a matter of 3 days on the Queen Charlotte Track before taking on the Richmond Alpine Track (RAT), and Waiau Pass; some of the hardest sections of the south. The RAT was some of the best tramping NZ has to offer in terms of technicality, distance, difficulty and best of all hut systems. Mountain ridges, steep scree sidlings, rock scrambling up 900m of elevation, it’s everything I could ask for in a tramp. 

For me, I enjoy the “type 2.5” kinda fun -is that even a thing?? The type where you hate what you’re doing, while doing it, but recall fond memories from your activity, like going over Waiau Pass with snow still covering majority of the track and doing it in sandals…yeah. –in my defense, my trail runners are bald as f*k from being eaten up on the trail and road walking, where my sandals (read: camp shoes) are the only pieces of footwear with decent tread left, thank you Dan and fam at Bedrock Sandals.

Side note, I’ve managed to do my first 40+km walk in a day, a personal best! It was from Blue Lake hut in Nelson Lakes, over the snowy Waiau Pass, and down the valley into Lewis Pass Reserve for Anne Hut (~43km).

Since the RAT and Waiau Pass, I was on the hunt for more alpine views, so the next target on my radar was the notorious Cascade Saddle, in Mt. Aspiring NP. Since T.A goes pass Glenorchy, I figured, why not get my alpine fix AND skip the clusterf*ckery of Queenstown, I can always go back and do the Mototapu track right?

So, at the moment I’m based in Glenorchy and headed to the Greenstone/Caples tomorrow and spend NYE in a hut (again). Te Anau, prepare ye for the hiker hunger.

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Updates from the trail

Cape Reinga to Ahipara

 

Hi my name is Caesar, and I like reeaaally long walks on the beach
 

Day 1

We get to twilight camp around 3, hiked ~12k from the light house at the cape. This is going to be challenging. But, we did find green mussels on the beach, so sea food was had for dinner tonight!

 

theres’s a reason why they call it Twilight Camp
 
Day 2

Hard day. Got up late, started late.  ~32k from twilight beach to the bluff campsite (worst campsite ever). Two more days worth of this before we reach hukatere. It’s raining tonight and it’s windy, fucking awesome. :/

Day 3

Hiked around ~26kms before my body (mostly my feet) succumbed to blisters and exhaustion. Had the worst day as the tide caught us many times and soaked our boots through and through. Had to hitch hike the rest of the way to Hukatere with Hodor, we are so fucked today. Tomorrow should be good as we are getting off this damn beach. 

you win this round

Day 4

Hiked all day today completing the final 32kms to Ahipara from Hukatere. About half way through at Waipapakauri, I meet up with Kem and began talking about how good fish and chips are going to be once we get into town-delerium and hunger have set in, two characters I know I’m going to get to know very well on this trip. Thank goodness the next two days are rest days.

PS: Happy Halloween from NZ!

Winter camping in Kaikoura

Remember how I said I wanted to take a trip up to Kaikoura? This past weekend we made it happen. A mate of mine here at the hostel wanted to make the weekend a surfing trip, but as luck would have it, the board wouldn’t fit in my car; but we still went anyway. We arrived in Kaikoura around half past two in the afternoon to be greeted by sunshine, cool weather, blue skies, and clean surf breaks, unfortunately this would only be a camping trip.

Photo Jun 07, 19 57 55
The Kaikoura Peninsula seen in the background from SH 1.

After driving around, we checked out Kaikoura’s iSite to find a place to camp and decided to base ourselves at the Puhi Puhi doc site, just a 25 minute drive north of town. Kaikoura is a beautiful small coastal town on the east coast along State Highway 1, just about two hours north of Christchurch – this makes for an amazing change of scenery and is well worth the drive. The town is well known for its abundance of marine life, ranging from Sperm whale watching, swimming with dolphins, or throwing down $$$ on some great cooked crayfish, as Kaikoura is still a mass producer of crayfish within New Zealand. You can also observe a Fur Seal colony on the eastern edge of town. It also begs to mention, that with a 30 minute drive north of town, you can reach the Ohau Stream Walk where you can watch fur seal pups hanging about in the waterfall pool.

Photo Jun 07, 20 02 18
Fur Seal pups curious about us tourists, coming in for a closer look.

If you’re looking to do some hiking, there’s the Mt. Fyffe track in the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges which gives you a panoramic view of the peninsula from the summit, a must do for the outdoor enthusiast.

Photo Jun 07, 20 09 30
Emlyn wishing he was surfing and not standing about.

24 May 2015 Update

Time sure flies when you’re not paying attention. I arrived in Christchurch nearly three weeks ago, staying this long was probably one of the dumber decisions I’ve made so far. I came here to look for work, but living costs seem to overtake my wages. As a backpacker, you’re able to get work, but the trick is finding something that brings in a steady income. I’ve only had a few days work the entire time I’ve been here and I’ll probably have better luck finding steady work elsewhere; but at least I accomplished what I came here to do, get my car fixed. It’s rather disorienting going from a nature reserve to an urban setting in such a short time that I forget that New Zealand does have cities like Christchurch. Now my next step is to figure out which direction to go, do I head north up to Kaikoura with my car or do I head down south to the Catlins? I’ve toyed with the idea of leaving my car here at the hostel and taking the bus up to Kaikoura for a few days. It’s relatively small and I wouldn’t need a car to get around, if I were to stay there for a few days, Ideally I’d like to camp out in my car and save on hostel expenses; But being that it’s nearing winter, the temperature does drop into the negatives and I’m not quite sure if I have proper sleeping equipment to stay warm throughout the night. Talking with travelers along the way, I’ve learned that the Catlins are pretty remote and that supplies aren’t located conveniently, so it’d be wise to come well stocked with food, water, and cooking devices, as camping out there could be necessary. A former coworker of mine mentioned a few need-to-see spots while I’m down there, mainly Curio Bay and the Petrified forest. I’m sure there’s heaps to see down there.

until next time!

Until next time Wanaka.

Yesterday I left behind the comforts of Wanaka to head over to Christchurch to get my car repaired, and now I’m tempted to start working again to make more money to fund my travels. It is nice to be able to travel again, but when necessary evils like car repairs, booking hostels, and buying food/drink, begin to pop up, and it helps to have an amount of cash that can ease the burden of having to take care of those things.

Update: I’ve decided to stay in Christchurch for a stint to work and have my car repaired. Transmission and clutch repairs are around $700-$800 (fuck me sideways). I’m going to need work so I booked an interview with a construction agency for me to find work for the time being. This should be interesting.

The travelers I’ve talked to told me that Christchurch is bleak, they weren’t wrong. I took a stroll through the city with some guys I had met that Foley Towers and there are construction sites everywhere. Amongst all the city rubble lay a scheme for new opportunities for new development and growth for this city. The city is congested with traffic cones, construction signs, shipping containers, and building scaffolding; but behind all the metal and dust, street art thrives. From tags scribbled discreetly on building corners to massive murals on entire building facades, art is everywhere; watching over the city’s residents juxtaposing the bleakness of its own construction. Christchurch currently has an exhibit dedicated to street art hosted at the local YMCA, featuring artists local and international, it’s completely worth checking out.

Featured Image provided by streetart.co.nz

Rob Roy Glacier Track

Walking this track is worth the hour and 45 minute drive outside of Wanaka. As you continue along Mt. Aspiring Rd, the pavement literally ends and a gravel road begins (side note: it helps if you’ve have a 4×4, rather than a 4 door sedan, my poor wheel alignment!!!). You’ll cross numerous fords, pass by sheer cliff faces, towering over you as you drive along side them, numerous waterfalls, and vast pastures of sheep and cattle; but even more sheep. As you continue, looking in awe at everything around you, you’ll begin to see the glacier peek its face from behind the mountain side, greeting you with its cold, inspiring views, and instilling a thrill of excitement (I know, I was giddy enough to get out of the car to take a selfie with us approaching the mountain), see below:

don'tbeacuntandstealthisimage

But I digress, you’ll continue along the road for a few more meters, then you reach the Raspberry Flat carpark; from here the walking tracks begin; the track itself takes about 2-3 hours return. 10 minutes walk from the car park, a swing bridge crosses the West Matukituki River. Continuing along the track, you’ll walk through beech forestry until you’ll reach some vegetation at the head of the valley, from here you can get some pretty amazing views. For those with a more adventurous spirit, you can follow a small unmarked trail down to the river that runs along the base of the cliff face. From there you can get a closer view of the glacier and incredible views of the valley, click through for a video.

It’s been an interesting and smooth month here in Kiwi Land

It’s March now and it’s almost been a month since I came back in February; February 6th to be exact, the day when (some) New Zealanders celebrate the signing of New Zealand’s founding document, The Treaty of Waitangi, aptly known as Waitangi Day. I landed in Queenstown International and hitched a ride into town. Upon arriving, I thought I could try my luck in scoring a hostel room simply by walking in and asking for one; big mistake. After being rejected numerous times from nearly every hostel, I thought I’d try one last time before I called it quits and found myself a park bench to sleep under (mind you, this is all happening at 10 in the morning, after a 17 hour flight from SFO the day before). I try my luck at the Alpine Lodge Backpacker hoping they have a room for the night. I walk in and Tim, the receptionist, greets me with a cheery, English accented, “Hello!” (for what it’s worth, even though you English folks are in every, single, hostel I stay at, you guys make some decent hosts) I ask, pretty much in desperation, if there were any rooms available, and just my luck, he did (FUCK YEAH!) and I book for two nights, which came out to $56 NZD. After chatting it up with him, I noticed that the hostel can also book adventure tourism at a discounted price, if you’re a BBH member. I recalled a promise to myself that the first thing I’d do when I got back to New Zealand was that I’d go skydiving. With no hesitation, I asked Tim to book me a time slot at 8 am for the next day. After exchanging pleasantries, I quickly drop my bags in my room, thanked Tim (again), and began wandering around town with new found energy. First thing I did was check out the local supermarket, J.F.C were groceries pricey in the south; ~$5 NZD for 2 litres of milk, my rather large appetite isn’t very sustainable for my limited NZD funds (I eat for a family of three unfortunately ]:). It definitely pays for itself when you have two people cooking for both, pool your resources!! Don’t get me wrong Queenstown is stunning, but deer lord is it pricey. Below is a picture from the waterfront looking out at Lake Wakatipu, pretty.10294236_1419224608369901_4930555895585952890_nBut don’t let the inflated prices dissuade you from visiting Queenstown, by all means, do come to see this beautiful place. There’s free things to do like, climb the Ben Lomond Track; the views are stunning from 1748 metres high. . DCIM100GOPRO

(Yours truly looking out at the horizon)

The next day, not even 12 hours after I’ve landed, I hop onto another plane, and (willingly) jump out of it; only this time, we’re flying at 15,000 ft. Watch it here. Spending a week in Queenstown had definitely hurt my bank, so I used the last trip on my Nakedpassport, from when I was here in October of last year, and booked it to Wanaka, my next destination. Wanaka, this lakeside town is nestled in the mountain ranges in the southern end of Lake Wanaka and is similar to Taupo up in the north island. There’s a TON of cheap and free things to do here, like swimming in the lake when the weather is warm, standup paddle boarding, tandem kayaking, hike the numerous tracks scattered throughout Wanaka, camp over in Albert Town at the DOC site for a small fee, or surf/boogie board the wave at the Hawea Waterpark (you’ll be lucky if you manage to have this place to yourself, as there’s many freestyle Kayakers that frequent the spot). The river right off Mt. Aspiring Rd is a great place to go rock jumping or rock climbing. For time being (read: until I have money again), I’m currently basing myself here in Wanaka, ideally until June, New Zealand’s snow season. TL;DR: Stranded in Wanaka, New Zealand is awesome.