Thursday, February 24, 2005

Meandering in the McKenzie

Last weekend Kieran took the opportunity for an adventure in the hills near Twizel, in the McKenzie Basin, with Dan McKay (a former Bates St housemate) and Dan's cousin Sarah. Eventually tracking Dan down by the roadside near Lake Ohau on Friday night, we got some sleep then plotted our weekend plans the next day.

We eventually decided to walk up the Hopkins and Huxley Valleys to Broderick Hut, on the slopes of the Main Divide, deep in the Ohau conservancy. The walk went well, although despite Dan's claims that his Corolla had four-wheel drive powers, we weren't able to make much progress along the road to the start of the walk, so we had an 8km march in and out of the Hopkins Valley.

Once we reached Monument Hut, however, the walking was much nicer, with spectacular peaks rising to nearly 2600m around us and deep, lush forest surrounding flat valley floors and clear, cool glacial rivers. As always in NZ, there was some rain and bad weather up closer to the main divide, but as we walked back out on Sunday, the weather cleared again to another spectacular day. A great walk, all in all, even if we did all end up a bit footsore from the long slog in and out.

Dan's car fails to progress into the lower Hopkins Valley.

Mt Glenmary - 2590m

Dan crossing the swingbridge into the Hopkins Valley

Kieran and Dan, with Mt Glenmary, Glenisla and the Dassler Pinnacles behind.

The upper Huxley Valley and the wall of the Main Divide, from just behind Broderick Hut.

A few days later Kieran and Rochelle made the long drive up to Christchurch to use one of Kieran's Christmas presents - tickets to the Aus v NZ one-day international cricket. We had a fun night, though the less said about the drive up there or the result, the better. (Those who are really interested could click here)

Anyway, it was a beautiful NZ evening with a lovely moonrise over the stadium, and we don't mean the streaker...

Jade stadium, Christchurch - 22 Feb

This coming weekend sees us off to the NZ rogaining champs, near Middlemarch in the hills behind Dunedin. For a variety of reasons we aren't competing, but we have been dragooned into doing some of the catering. Wish us luck...

Hey there. If you're reading this blog, could you drop us a line in the comments and let us know who you are? We're intrigued to know who's reading this.

Cheers K&R

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Lunchtime Swim - Dunedin Style

Rochelle and I have been trying to get out a few times a week for a swim during her lunch break. Usually we swim at Moana Pool, the big indoor pool complex near her work. It has a spa, lots of lap lanes - generally a great place.

Today, however, the weather was stunning - it's a beautiful summer's day in Dunedin - so we decided to swim at the St Clair Saltwater Pool.

Not a bad place to do your laps on a nice sunny day.

Not our photo (Credit: David Wall Photography) but you get the idea.

Sometimes this town is quite pleasant...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Visitors - January '05

Part of the reason we haven't written much recently is that since we returned from Abel Tasman, we've had a succession of visitors coming to check out the Dunedin summer.

First off were Kieran's parent's, Aidan and Jacqui, who came to walk the Milford track and came to stay for a few days afterwards. We picked them up from the airport in Christchurch when they arrived and drove them down to Queenstown where they'd be joining their guides for the walk. On the way down we stopped at Peel Forest (near Geraldine) for a few quick wanders through the forest.

After Aidan and Jacqui had done the Milford track we met them at the sound for a boat cruise, before we headed south for a two day wander through Southland.

Yes, it was a touch windy that day.

The glacial cirque below the Homer Tunnel turned into a series of waterfalls as the rain started to fall.

Down in Southland we stayed overnight in Bluff, the southernmost town in New Zealand. It's a dump, but we found the one good place in town to stay and had a fabulous seafood meal. The next morning we checked out the Invercargill Museum (absolutely first class), then went to the southernmost point in NZ - Slope Point - then drove back along the Catlins Coast to Dunedin.

Kieran and Rochelle at Slope Point.

Our next set of visitors were Christian and Alice, who were cycle-touring round NZ looking for jobs and/or a nice place to live. Amazingly, Dunedin turned on some summer weather, giving them a pleasant, but totally distorted view of the city.

Chris and Alice at the Taiaroa Head Seal Colony - about a 1 hour ride from our house.

Oh, and Rochelle's been racing in the Macandrew Bay Boat Club Wednesday evening regattas held out the front of our house.

So what's next? Well, maybe a weekend hiking with Dan somewhere in the southern half of the island, then a trip up to ChCh to watch Australia thrash New Zealand in the one-day cricket. After that, maybe the NZ rogaine championships. Oh, and mixed in with all of this is more sailing, lunchtime swimming at the fabulous Moana Pool, summer evening orienteering, gardening and cycling. Roll on summer.

New Year 2005: Abel Tasman National Park

After arriving back in Dunedin from Hamilton (minus some of our overweight luggage. Damn you Air New Zealand!!) we had a quick snooze, repacked the car with our adventurin' gear and headed up the road to spend New Years Eve with Dan in Christchurch. By late afternoon on the first day of 2005 we'd safely made it to Nelson where we decompressed for a day or so, sorting out our kit and enjoying the Marlborough sunshine.

On the morning of the third we picked up kayaks from the rental company (and we were recognised by the girl helping us get set up - she works at R&R sports in Dunedin. Not just a small town, this is a small country...) and after a bit off faffing around we headed on up the coast of Abel Tasman National Park under greying skies. Our plan was to seakayak north for three days, then have the rental company collect the boats on the third afternoon and drop off our packs, then we'd continue to walk north up the Abel Tasman track for another two or three days.
Our beautiful blue boats.
Warning: There'll be a lot more photos of Rochelle than Kieran in this post. Not only is she better looking, but Kieran had the camera on his boat.
Rochelle with an coastal arch behind
In the middle of the afternoon we came to the start of what's known as the "Mad Mile". Most of the coastline in Abel Tasman is fairly sheltered and calm, but during this section it juts out into Tasman Bay and gets a bit rougher, but on that day it was relatively smooth so we gave it a go. We pushed most of the way up the Mad Mile until we reached Te Puketea bay, where we decided to camp.
Te Puketea: Not our photo - and the weather certainly wasn't like this for us -but you get the idea. It's quite a nice place.
Kieran on the beach at Te Puketea
Rochelle paddling out the second morning.

The next morning we rounded the heads into Torrent Bay and pulled ashore to take a side trip inland to Cleopatra's Pool.

Kieran and Rochelle at Cleopatra's Pool

A nice bit of Abel Tasman bush

After a hot lunch to warm us up we got back in the boats and headed up the coast through driving rain and increasingly cold and strong winds. After an unscheduled break to get out of the wind and warm up we eventually made it into the welcoming calm of Bark Bay. Paddling amongst the moored yachts and multihulls we worked our way past the crowds on the beach at Bark Bay Hut to the more secluded campsite at Mosquito Bay.

Dodgy photo of Mosquito Bay Camp.

The Abel Tasman track has about two dozen campsites along its length, most of which are shared by trampers and sea-going campers. Mosquito Bay, on the other hand, is one of only two campsites that are accessible only by boat - so they tend to be quieter, slightly more serene affairs. When we arrived at Mosquito Bay there were three trailer sailers anchored in the lagoon behind the campsite waiting for high tide to float them out, but even so, it was a very relaxing, if somewhat rain-sodden place to stay.

Rochelle cooking dinner under the trees, Mosquito Bay

Kayak racks and our tent.

On day three we packed up early and went to seakayak out to Tonga Island, the northern most part of our seakayaking component. The sea was quite rough on the crossing to the island and with high winds we were only able to see a handful of the seals that live and breed on the island before heading back into shore. Once ashore we unpacked the boats, collected our packs and headed off to walk over the saddle to Awaroa inlet, our destination for the evening.

Rochelle starts off on the Abel Tasman track.

Unfortunately, the rain had well and truly set in by this time and it was a pair of cold, wet and muddy trampers that eventually arrived at the fairly impressive DOC hut at Awaroa. The storm really set in overnight, so we were glad the ranger let us cook in the hut before retiring to our tent for the night.

Somehow the weather cleared overnight, so we were able to dry our moistened belongings before setting off to cross Awaroa inlet on the low tide, then continue on to Totaranui.

Drying gear at Awaroa.

Kieran outside Awaroa Hut.

Crossing Awaroa inlet.

As we sauntered up towards Totaranui the weather improved dramatically, giving us a taste of what Abel Tasman is like at its best.

We stayed two nights at Totaranui, an enormous DOC campground towards the north end of the track. With great weather we were able to swim, laze in the sun and even do some sailing with some of our neighbours from Dunedin we met up there.

On the sixth day of our trip we decided to head home and caught a water taxi back to our car, parked at Marahau at the south end of the park. By mid-afternoon we were cruising across the spectacular Lewis Pass in North Cantebury, dinner in Christchurch, then back in bed in Dunedin just on midnight, having seen in the first week of 2005 in fine style.

Northern Rata, Totaranui

Rochelle's Birthday, Christmas 2004

Hmm, last time we wrote was a while ago, wasn't it?

Well, we had Christmas in Hamilton with Rochelle's family and stayed there (and thereabouts) until the 31st. While we were up there we celebrated the birthday's of both Rochelle and her sister, Debra-Lee.

Rochelle's birthday dinner.

Debra-Lee and Rochelle with their cakes.

The clan O'Hagan...

After all the usual pre-Christmas running around, Christmas itself was a nice sunny day at Sarndra and Jason's, followed by a few days up at the Coromandel peninsula fishing with Debra-Lee, Martin, Shayne and Debbie.

Jason knee-boarding, Boxing Day 2004.

Raewyn and Rochelle picking rasberries.

Board games at the Coromandel Peninsula