Alpine Valleys

IMG_6109 Hooker Valley, Mt Cook

Part two of the south island holiday, exploring a small part of the Southern Alps. Heading north from Dunedin by car we drove up the coast getting as far as Oamaru to stay the night. Took advantage of our short stay in Oamaru to check out  Steampunk HQ (well worth a visit) full of crazy creations and lots of fun. also went down to the beach at sunset to catch a glimpse of the little blue penguin that makes itself at home there.

For the safety of the penguins the council has fenced off the main nesting area, (understandable) but they have built a couple of grand stands and charge spectators to watch them come up through the floodlit corridor, a nice close up view but pretty unnatural in my view, and photographs and videos are banned!! So we opted for the more natural observation post on the breakwater still a fair distance from their landing point but with a pair of binoculars and good eyesight we did get to see a couple hit the beach before security came and evicted us from “council land” (I got the distinct impression they were more interested in stopping us from getting a free penguin sighting, than from protecting the penguins from our flash photography)

A wander through the Victorian Quarter, breakfast near the wharf, and a visit to Janet Frame’s house as we left town, (could easily have stayed another day) heading to Mt Cook.

Three glorious days at Mt Cook doing lots of touristy things, timing was a little unfortunate as it coincided with Chinese New Year, so lots of overseas tourists and a bit tricky to get bookings on some of the excursions we wanted to do, but weather was great for the adventures we had in mind.

I was blown away by the boat trip on the Tasman Glacier Lake, got to touch Ice that had been frozen for thousands of years, it was like multi faceted jewels, and so pure we could drink the water as it melted. Got up close to the face of the glacier (not too close incase any icebergs carved off) Found out via the news a week or so later that a huge piece of ice had come away and caused 2meter waves and damaged the jetty we had used!
Day two was hiking up the Hooker valley to the hooker lake and Glacier. Yet again large ice blocks in the lake, close enough to the shore for those brave enough to reach in and pull it out. I just had fun with a piece that someone got bored with and left behind.


Last day the wind died down enough for our ski plane flight to land at the top of the Tasman Glacier, it felt like we were the only people there for a few minutes, such a quiet, peaceful, clear and clean expanse! Within a few minutes two more planes and a helicopter had joined us, also making the most of the window in the weather, but there seemed plenty of room for everyone. It’s hard to appreciate the sheer magnitude of the glacier, and what seemed like a small landing strip didn’t feel at all crowded with the extra arrivals. Still special to have had that few minutes up there on our own though.

So looking forward to spending more time in this part of our beautiful country.


Training on the Rail Trail

Day 1 the Otago Rail Trail

Feeling pretty good to have this little adventure ticked off. I’ve just Cycled 172.5km over 4 days on the Otago Rail Trail. Overall the weather gods were good to us, a big storm came charging through the afternoon before we started, leaving a fresh dusting of snow on the ranges, and a few branches on the track the next morning, but nothing to write home about. Day three started with light intermittent rain, and developed into some pretty strong winds, but thankfully the worst was well after we arrived in Hyde and we had the luxury of a sheltered deck, then snuggling up indoors to watch the wind play with the surrounding trees.The bonus was, we got all our washing dry within an hour!!! Next morning was bright and clear and all down hill to Middlemarch.
Our bikes were really good, we went with “Trail Journeys” who were excellent in providing all our equipment organising our accommodation, and transporting our bags between overnight stops. We never had to wait once and received a warm welcome at the end of each day by our respective hosts. We even got pulled over by a local in Hyde, who seemed to know we were heading in the wrong direction, and redirected us to our beds for the night, (I got the feeling they might have been looking out for us, which was a nice feeling.)
Most of our meals were in local pubs and hotels, were we had a very friendly welcome from staff and locals alike, and the food and beverages were all plentiful and delicious, its hard to pick a favourite as they all seemed to hit the spot perfectly.
After we returned our bikes in Middlemarch, we had opted to go by train through the Taieri Gorge to Dunedin, what an amazing feat of engineering! Brilliant trip with lots of opportunities to capture the scenery, and marvel at the hard work and skill it took to open up this vital supply route over 100 years ago!
I really feel quite privileged to be able to experience our own country in this way, it’s a shame the cost of travel, and site seeing activities within New Zealand, makes this sort of holiday prohibitive for a lot of Kiwi families.

More South Island adventures to come soon.


Getting Fitter

Whangamata beach walks

After a Xmas break with plenty of fun with friends and family, including scrumptious food and plenty of thirst quenching beverages, its time to get back into good habits.

I tried to exercise most days (probably ended up being 50/50) but got a few walks in at the beach which could be handy for the 90mile beach section! and mixed it up with a few bike rides. I also tried out a new pair of shoes “Merrell Allabout Blaze” My thoughts are they could be good for parts of the beach walk and definitely useful at the end of the day around camp, giving support and protection but also letting my feet breath. Foot care could make or break this journey!

Talking of Cycling, the main reason I dusted off my bike, (I don’t think I’ve used it in5-6 yeas) is to get a bit of practice in for the Otago rail trail, which we will be starting later this week! I don’t want to be so saddle sore that I can’t enjoy it!!! not sure how thats going to go though! I’ve managed about 10days over the last two weeks doing between 6 and 16km each session, and while I can definitely feel I’ve been on a bike I’m not walking like a cowboy yet! Need to get some of those padded cycle pants too! Thats going to be a real sexy look, but at my age I need to be as comfortable as I can, getting out of my comfort zone!!!

I’ll update you in a couple of weeks when I’m back from the trail, might even get this photo thing sorted in the meantime and post a picture of me in the saddle????

until next time


How it all started

Labour weekend 2018 during 5 hours of solitude on a road trip, I started thinking of friends and family, their achievements and aspirations, and decided I needed something to challenge me on a personal level. The idea of the Appalachian Trail was in the back of my mind but just didn’t seem personal to me. I had heard of the Te Araroa Trail in snippets of conversation over the last couple of years, and knew a young woman who was going to do it solo. The more I thought about it the more confident I became that I could do it too. I wanted to do it in my own time though, not to be rushed along to fit into anyone else’s schedule. It felt right.

Timing was a big issue because Te Araroa has a walking season (September to April) and my family already had Holidays planned through till November 2019!!!! OK if I’m going to do this I have to let everyone know well in advance because I’ll be out of circulation for 5 months. I’m going to book Sept 2020/Mar 2021. It sounded so far away, but hey I’m going to need all of that to get match fit.

I announced it to my Mum and Sisters when I got to my destination, and to my surprise they didn’t call me crazy! In fact a few days later one of my sisters decided she’d like to join me. I’d been to-ing and fro-ing about how safe it would be doing it solo, but at the same time I didn’t want anyone else pulling the strings, I still wanted it to be my adventure. The more I thought about it, the more I thought we could make a good team, both independent in our own way, but we’d have each others back when the going gets tough! and I was under no illusion that the going was going to be very tough at times.

Now I’m no spring chicken, I’m in my late 50’s  carrying a little too much weight, and although I exercise 2-3 times a week I’m not terribly fit. So first challenge is to loose a little weight (so exercise can be a bit more enjoyable.) I started immediately (the day after I got home from the road trip.) I decided on the 2/5 diet. I’d talked to a couple of friends who did it and had good results. Basically I’d be minimising my food intake to 500kj twice a week and eating sensibly for the other 5days.  I started seeing results immediately, so that gave me the drive to do another week, then another… I’ve had a little break over Xmas and put a little back on but I’m still 5kgs lighter than I was in October and moving and exercising a lot easier, so I’m well chuffed.

I started to tell friends and work mates my plan, and to my surprise no one has wanted to certify me crazy yet!!!! or doubted that I can achieve it, so this is all adding to my confidence that I really can do this. A common question has been are you going to raise funds for anyone or are you doing it for a special cause? Initially I had to say no, because it hadn’t crossed my mind, I was doing it purely for selfish reasons, it was about challenging myself! However the more I mulled things over I decided it was going to be an epic adventure and it would be a shame if no-one (other than me) got any benefit from it. So I started thinking of options. It took a few weeks for me to settle on the mental health foundation. For a number of reasons it felt like the right choice. I felt that being outdoors, exercising, away from all our materialistic obsessions, and the pressures put on us by modern society, would be a good place for me if I suffered from depression. Then I thought of friends and family dealing with anxiety, bi-polar, OCD and any number of other issues that I didn’t fully understand. I started to appreciate how strong those people really are! The strength it takes for them to get through an ordinary day must be huge! I’m going to learn something about how hard some days can be on this journey, and then I’m going to have to get right back up and do it again the next day, and maybe the day after. But as hard as it gets for me, I’ve chosen this path! they didn’t choose theirs! Mine will be over in a few months, but theirs can last a lifetime. So Mental Health foundation you’ve got my support.

2019: plans and preparation for my epic adventure start now in earnest, I’m committed to exercising 6 days a week, drinking 4 glasses  of water every day (normally I’m lucky to drink one!) and researching equipment and technology (not my forte) that will help me reach my goal. Because now I can say I’m walking the length of New Zealand NEXT YEAR!!!! it doesn’t seem so far away!

Bring it on and I’ll keep you posted