Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Island Fever....

I can't believe our time in New Zealand is ending! Three weeks went by so quickly, but with lots of absolutely incredible memories. We rented a car so that we could tool around on our own schedule, and made our first stop at the base of Mt. Cook. Crazy glaciers and beautiful trails and some exciting climbing!!!! The day after we left Mt. Cook village, Sir Edmund Hillary passed away, so it eneded up being a timely visit...to be able to relate to the place where he spent much of his time training.
From there we drove through Wanaka, where we spent a hot afternoon waiting for the mechanic to explain why our rental car died....Then a seven hour push up the west coast to pick up a new car in Hokitika. The day ended with a beautiful sunset and pulling into a grassy campsite. Awoke to the sound of waves on the beach, thick costal fog and a wonderful little bay. The climbing here was incredible too, hung out for a few days at the place that boasts the closest crag to pub distance on the south island. Spent a rainy day chatting to a local jewler convinced of jade riches off the coast and playing scrabble in the pub with a wayward Canadian.
We ditched (or thought we did) the rainy weather and made a beeline for the alps in the hope of doing a trak there, but predictions of 3mm of rain/hour and the numerous river crossings persuaded us to continue down the eastern side of the alps to the boulering mecca of Castle Rock. Camped by a high alpine lake for a few days and confirmed that we are just not boulderers.
Having come to that conclusion, and wanting to do something more hardcore and adventureous, we hiked into a basalt area called Mt. Somers, an epic four hour trek with really heavy packs. Camped there for 5 days and weatherd out a storm and a low abundance of food...but it was worth it to hang out and climb. Ended up meeting a german couple whom we had met at the coastal crag of Charelston and were on a similar circuit as us. All in all, I couldn't imagine a better time! We fly out to Auckland from Christchurch tomorrow morning and then onto Sydney on Friday!!! Looking forward to another set of adventures.....Dana

Forever bittersweet... No plans to return but there will be things I will miss about N Zed... Like how the "e" in deck etc gets mangled in that characteristically Kiwi way--"the top dick is reserved for first class passengers only". The graffitti on the Constant Bay Reserve campground privy door that read "B 4 you bone Minky, cover ya slinky". The stipling of tiny manuka flowers on rolling sub-alpine landscapes. The sub-alpine bees the size of ping-pong balls endlessly fascinated by the nectar flowing from my dripping nose. Calling coffee long black or flat white. How every Kiwi is at the ready to give you a meteorological lesson about typical NZ wind patterns, rainfall, rain shadows, trends... and the way they say, "It was supposed to be nice." Being in a country where one of the most visible national heroes (on the $5 dollar bill i think) is/was a humanitarian and mountaineer. NZ actually makes a concerted effort to be somewhat bi-lingual with Maori text accompanying English on signs, some news broadcasts etc. Parting a sea of white mewing 150 lb wooly parasites with our NIssan Sunny that has 270,000 k's on the highway as dogs smarter than the average Republican keep them in order. Sliding nuts over 25 year old machine bolts on rock as slick as soap and about as crumbly while swearing I see Frodo strapped to a crashpad running through the labyrinth of Castle Hill bouders. Finding my passport missing the day before we fly to Australia and calling the Bank of NZ in Akaroa and hearing them tell me they will courier my forgotten passport to me via the shuttle bus driver that is leaving for Christchurch that very hour. -Bennett

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Zealand!

Kiwis are probably the friendliest folk on the planet... rain, sun, green, clear cuts, homegenous second growth, slipping through sheep merdes, hostel scenes, guiness on draft, kumara chips, sore calf muscles, tolkienesque landscapes, black beech and tree ferns, Maori... so far so good. renting a car today to escape the multi national sheep and do our own thing and climb, camp for free etc... things are steep for the wimpy US dollar here and geared toward those that want to pay for convenience--not us obviously. time do some streching so i can heft the near 80 lbs of gear (imagine me flexing...ok, maybe not) B.B.
A little narration on the pictures....The one of a crazy french statue with me is in Picton (where there is an incredible bakery, with all sorts of meat pies). Everyone found our packs fairly amusing (Bennett likes to make it known that his pack is 15 whole lbs. heavier than mine, even though he outweighs me by 45 lbs.)! The one of me and some other folks at a cabin is the lunch stop on the first day of our Kaikoura coast track. Pretty incredible view, complete with a "billy" to boil tea (the tea here is AMAZING). The two women are great English girls and the guy is an Australian who wants to do a PhD studying ANTS!!!! The picture of Bennett and I was also taken on the first day of the KCT, and I'm doped up on antihistamines, HORRIBLE hay fever. We got treated to picking eggs from the henhouse on the first night and homemade, incredible treats on our last afternoon from a woman named Gypsy. She made amazing fruit cake (you would have loved it Mom!!!) The trip has been wonderful so far, surpassing any previous expectations and everything seems to be going smoothly, which in nice. We miss you all, but are having a terrific time! Love, Dana