Sunday, 19 April 2009

The Muffin Top is the Best Bit

Okay so I know that I just don't have the will power required to blog, in detail, the second, third and fourth days of the Abel Tasman trip last weekend so thought I'd try and provide some sort of abridged version... so here goes.

Day 2 (Saturday) was the longest day and involved walking from Torrent Bay to Waiharakeke Bay. There are two tidal crossings on this route and it's the latter one at Awaroa what was the reason for the longish day... if didn't make that crossing then we'd have to get up pretty damn early the next morning (in the dark) to do it at the next low tide. There was much relief (on my part at least!) when we reached our camp site that evening. There was a pretty successful dinner of cous cous with dried fruits, a serious amount of vegetables and feta. In fact we couldn't fit all the vegetables in to the billy so we ended up eating them raw (well it was that or someone had to keep carrying them). The original recipe called for 100g of cous cous per person so that resulted in 1kg of cous cous. After we'd all taken some food there was a scary amount of cous cous left... I was worried (the billy carriers get to carry out the communal rubbish). So, while not being particularly hungry I basically took a second dinner. At this point I was very scared as the cous cous still looked as if a dent hadn't been made in it! Then someone else took some and then someone else so gradually with much encouraging, coercing and general hilarity the group actually succeeded in finishing all the food. Without a photo to illustrate it's quite difficult to get across how much food there was. But let's just say that there was so much that my stomach was so full I needed to lie down :)

Day 3 (Sunday) was Waiharakeke Bay to Whariwharangi. Another beautiful day with a not too early start. I tucked in to my second breakfast of Tararua biscuits with jam quietly pleased that I had thought of bringing these along. It was at this meal that I realised that Mike had brought a 750g bag of muesli on the tramp for his breakfasts!! Don't get me wrong, I've no problem with meusli but there is no way in hell I'd carry a full bag (suspect he won't be in future either)! As myself and Kate were ready before the others we headed down to the water to wait for everybody else to join us. It was this juncture that I learned about "muffin tops". For anybody out there not happy with their muffin top, just remember that the muffin top is the best bit :)
Sunday morning waiting

There really was some lovely walking on this day... as you get further north on this track the beaches become more and more beautiful. There was a bit of walking along the beaches too which at first seemed lovely but actually I discovered that walking on a beach in boots and carrying a pack can be a little difficult and uncomfortable. But it made for some nice photographs.
Mutton Cove

Once arriving at our camp site for the evening we headed down to the beach, our beach, to just relax and wait for the sun to set before heading back to camp for dinner (minimal preparation this night as this was dehy night). This was a thoroughly relaxing way to spend what was left of the day light of Easter Sunday.
Sunday Evening Chilling


Once back at camp the sun was obviously gone so we all put on a few extra layers of clothing. Some put on a few more layers than others. I had 3 layers on which admittedly was fewer than I'd have thought I'd need. A couple of the other girls had 4 layers on. And then there was, as she came to be known, The Seven Layered Woman. Yup, Nicky at one point, had 7 layers on (with one of those layers being a down jacket!). Trust me, it just wasn't that cold! And we were sitting in front of a fire!! Anyway, I'm glad she did as it provided us with endless amusement on the ferry sailing back the next day :)

Speaking of the next day, well it was only a 90 min walk so not too much I can say about it. We were at the road end by 11:30 with a 1pm pick up arranged. Got to Picton for the ferry sometime around 5:30 or 6 so that was alot of sitting/driving after walking for 3 days. It felt odd. The sailing was much smoother than the sailing over and Megan taught us a great game called Drawlies... in which The Seven Layered Woman played a central theme in the first round. Thanks Nicky :)

The End.
The End

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Cover Girl

Found this site (magmypic) and I couldn't resist having a bit of fun :)

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Abel Tasman Great Walk - Day 1 Marahau to Torrent Bay

For Easter I did the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk with the WTMC tramp which was basically a 4 night 3 day tramping trip (the 4th day was basically a 90 min walk out to the road end and then a 5 hr drive back to Picton.

We got the ferry across to Picton on Thurs evening after work and from there we got driven to Marahau where we were camping for the night. It was about 1am before we got to Old MacDonalds Farm where we were due to set up camp for the night. Needless to say I was feeling pretty tired by this stage and wasn't too happy when I heard, after we'd unloaded all our gear from the mini bus, that we were camping 400 metres up the road. However, we got a great stroke of luck when the owner drove by and indicated that as we'd already we'd unloaded our gear maybe we'd like to use some tents that were already set up and that had some camp beds in them. Would we what? Eh, yeah!! These tents were huge and they had duvets and pillows! Oh yeah... me in my silk liner, in my sleeping bag and with duvet over me, I was toasty warm :)

Friday morning was a glorious day with lots of sun and no wind at all when we were setting off from Marahau. There were ten of us in the group and what really surprised me is that out of that 10 only one of us was a Kiwi (Mike) even though all of us live in Wellington! There were 2 Irish (myself and Dave), 1 English (Russ), 1 Scottish (Nicki), 2 American (Barry, Megan), 1 Canadian (Kate), 1 German (Kat) and one Dutch (Mark). How's that for an international tramp??!

The Start

While my pack was lighter than that of others it was still a definite big thing sitting on my back but it didn't cause too much trouble in the morning. We stopped for lunch on a gorgeous beach (one of many) though I can't actually remember which bay it was. I'm thinking possibly it was Stilwell Bay. We had a fairly leisurely break there was we wouldn't be able to make it across to the camp site at Torrent Bay from Anchorage until low tide; well we could but we definitely wanted to avoid the high tide route which was longer.

Me by lunch time on the first day

I have to be honest and say that after my lunch my shoulders were definitely starting to feel a little on the sore side... but having said that I wasn't the only one. The walk to Anchorage Hut was beautiful; the wonderful blue the sea, the beaches, the sun! Once there we topped up on the water front, had a break and then set out across the low tide crossing to our camp...

Beach Walking

The site at Torrent Bay was wonderfully small and basic... very few others were there so it was lovely and quiet. After setting up tents and flies, a few folk went for a walk and then we started prep on dinner. Dinner itself was a rather tasty tomato sauce with a mountain of vegetables and pasta sauce. As is the norm when tramping, you have to carry your rubbish out with you and that also applies to any leftovers. Consequently there was alot of encouragement to get the pasta and the sauce finished... at this stage we realised that Megan is very useful to have around when help is required to finish up leftover food! Some other useful things that I learnt that day are:
Don't use a down jacket to lift heavy things... it will melt (learnt this from Nicki who demonstrated this fact)
Chocolate hobnobs are the best... this discussion rose as we ate our dessert of tim tams and toffee pops. Again Nicki raised this but she was backed up by Russ on this.
You can get away with a smaller backpack when your sleeping mat is thing (a ground sheet in fact) and you don't have a sleeping bag (this was from Mark... no idea how he didn't freeze!)

The really weird things about tramping and camping once the clock has changed is that it always seems much later than it is. Yes, you (well me!) feel pretty tired after being out all day but it was dark by 7pm which really threw me off! However there was a beautiful full moon (at least I think it was full) so before heading to bed at about 8:30 a few of us headed down to the beach to just listen to the small waves lapping on the shore... that was the only noise.
Moon Watching

Anyway, I'll hopefully write a little more on the following days over the next while. More photos from the first day on

A Lazy Tuesday

After 3 days of tramping and then on the 4th a 90 min walk to the road end and then a 4.5 hr drive to Picton, today was wonderfully quiet. I had arranged in advance to take today off and I'm so glad that I did. It was gone 11pm before I got back last night. I didn't manage to sleep quite as late as I would have liked this morning but that didn't matter too much.

So, what did I do on my day off? I made myself some breakfast in bed and finally got up about 10am (admittedly I already had done two laundry washes by this stage!) Did a bit of grocery shopping before getting back to get my photos off the camera. Come 1pm I headed off my massage. That massage was just wonderful. I had looked for a 90 min slot but I guess I was doing well to get 60 mins considering I only phoned them this morning! This was followed by a 90 min doze on the living room floor (yes I doze on my living room floor!). I was feeling pretty wrecked actually when I made myself start moving about pretty relaxed at the same time.

After the "success" of my Tararua biscuits for tramp breakfasts I decided to make some Apricot Slices from my Wholemeal Cafe Cookbook which I bought in Takaka last November. I tried hard (honest!) to not eat any but I was unable to resist. So I guess I'll treat it as my starter and dessert for dinner this evening :)

I did manage to get some photos up on to flickr but plenty more to go!

And the rest of the evening is fairly lazy. Watched some West Wing, eat some tasty dinner and House followed by Boston Legal later on!

So, all in all a lazy, relaxing and much needed "do nothing" day!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Mount Cook... third time lucky

As I mentioned previously I'd been to Mount Cook twice before last weekend but had not yet successfully seen Mount Cook itself as my visits always seemed to coincide with less than pleasant weather in that area. I did see the peak up close on the flight to Queenstown but I really was hoping to see it whilst in Mount Cook National Park itself. And I did!

We arrived in to the national park last Monday afternoon and there was the Aoraki/Mount Cook staring across at me. Whilst driving in to the village I suggested, well said, that I felt we should stop as I couldn't trust it to actually still be visible the following morning. So I got a couple of photos (the ideal place to photograph Mount Cook is across Lake Pukaki but we wouldn't be there until Tues).
Mount Cook

It was an amazingly clear evening so at 10pm we went along to a star gazing talk/chat/demo/I don't know what to call it! Anyway this went on for an hour and involved us standing outside The Hermitage and somebody pointing out different stars, planets and other stuff in the sky. They had a telescope that we used to look at stuff.. unfortunately we did see stuff but the telescope wasn't always behaving and sometimes wandered a little off course... as I found out the first time I looked in to and saw black! I have to admit that I was somewhat relived that it was the telescope just point at a lot of black as opposed to me just not being able to figure out to look through it properly! We could see Saturn in the sky without the telescope but when using that I could make out the rings. Admittedly my first thought was along the lines of "shouldn't it be bigger through a telescope?" followed by "star trek prop" it was pretty cool to see the rings... for me at least :)

The next morning it was dry (mostly) with lots of low cloud and no views. We still did the short walk up to Kea Point but I was glad that I took my photo of Aoraki the afternoon before :)

Mount Cook

Friday, 3 April 2009

Milford Sound

Last Sunday I flew to Queenstown to meet up with Dave, Brian and Carol who had been enjoying a trip down the Sth Island from earlier in the week. It was a great day for a flight down that way and I got to see Mount Cook up close and personal on the flight. It was fantastic to be up so close to it and looking across (rather than up) at the peak in so much detail. Beautiful.

After meeting up with the guys in the afternoon and doing some browsing we headed to Te Anau where we were to spend the next two nights. Before leaving Queenstown we spent some time in the I-Site organising our respective trips to Milford Sound the next day. The three of them were keen to get some kayaking in. I wasn't. I admit that kayaking is a wonderful to get up close and personal with the Sounds (yes I know it's a fjord!), the waterfalls, seals etc but I did the kayaking thing three years ago. I don't like being on something that seems so unstable as a kayak (i.e. something other than a real proper boat) so I was happy to have done the kayaking once and to not necessarily repeat it... and it was nothing to do with the get up that I worse the last time around... honest!
Ready For Kayaking!

It's a 2 hr drive from Te Anau to Milford Sounds so with the others leaving at 6am Sunday morning and not being expected back until 3:30pm at the earliest I decided to plan a Milford Sound excursion of my own (one that wouldn't require me getting up at 5:30am). I signed up for a "Scenic tour and intimate nature cruise" with Awesome. This involved a much more respectable pick up time of 9:30am where I would be ferried out to Milford Sound in a nice large air conditioned coach with some photo stops at places such as Eglinton Valley (visited 3 years back),
Eglinton Valley

and Mirror Lakes (large pond) to name but two.
Reflected Mountains

Once we got to Milford I reapplied my insect repellant in an effort to deter my ardent admirer, the sandfly and boarded a lovely boat for my 2.25 cruise around the Fjord. I couldn't get over the size of some of the cruise boats in the Sounds... huge with a couple of hundred people getting on. I think that there were maybe about 15 on my boat. Admittedly the boat could handle more than that and I'm sure the operators wouldn't have minded a few more but I was happy with it. It wasn't the clearest day in Milford on Sunday (i.e. it was very cloudy) but at least it wasn't raining. Milford Sound is really very beautiful...
Milford Sound

with waterfalls all over the place
Milford Sounds Waterfall

We even got to drink some of the water... and I got wet but it was all great fun. Near the end we saw some seals but even more exciting we saw a school of dolphins which we watched for about 10 minutes. I was snapping away taking photos when I realised that I wasn't just watching them and enjoying it so at that point I stopped and took it in. It was fantastic :)
Dolphin School

I could bore you with lots of details of the history of the building of the road to Milford Sounds (there is only one) and the fact that one particular mile of that road took 7 years to build.... luckily it wasn't all that slow! Oh and the Homer tunnel about 20 mins from the sounds/fjord itself which took 20 years to build. They basically just blasted through the mountain to make a tunnel. But I won't. I'll just finish with what an amazing and beautiful national park it is...