The Rurus

Adventure Before Dementia

28/3/18 New Zealand Land Bats

Our next guest to be hosted at the Rurus was this fella Eric, from the US.

We had received an email from another FB friend whom we had met travelling in Vietnam to ask if we could connect to share our wisdom of adventuring Aotearoa by bike.  Hell yes, and so we did.

It doesn’t take much to inflate an air bed, set an extra plate at the table, put laundry through the washer, nor share shampoo and soap.  Especially when you have an opportunity to press the flesh with like minded adventurists and spend an evening swapping stories from the bike seat.

Eric touched down in Auckland, then headed north to Cape Reinga at the top of our islands.  His route after that was to follow a Te Araroa Trail designed for two wheels.

It didn’t take us long to be laughing with him as he described descending from the light house on a track that we had taken when we stepped off on our TA adventure, where the track stopped at the bottom of the first decent and then we had to bush bash versus tempt a beach skirt run in-between unforgiving waves.

Huh, Eric did too!  Pushing his mode of transport through soft sand speedily so as not to be sucked out into the Tasman Sea, took some effort and time.  Once Eric reached 90 Mile Beach, he decided to ride under the cover of darkness.

The eyes reflecting from his bike light and head torch had him on edge.  He knew that New Zealand had two mammals, referring to our bats. However, Eric had never ever seen ‘land bats’ before.  Nor whether they were the blood sucking vampire types.

Neither have we.  Ever seen land bats.

And thank god we don’t as well.

They were the furry pest, the opossum!

Our time with Eric was full of tales and banter and laughter, as those sitting around the camp fire telling stories should be like.  Except it was our dining room table.

His first long distance cycle ride was across the US when he moved from the West Coast to the East, just over 7,000 kms taking 2.5-3 months.  It was his way of leaving behind an old life to start a fresh new one.  We were drawn into it having the merit of ‘what was’ instead of ‘what is’.

We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to be inspired by global citizens the likes of Eric.  It keeps our passion to explore our planet more while we still have our health.  And marbles.

His favourite section of the landscape, the Old Ghost Road on the West Coast of the South Island. The trail itself keeps you in the present; it’s majestic scenery takes you to adrenalin heights of emotions literally. Awe and then some.  We have yet to do it.  Later this year before it becomes a coca cola track.  His words of advice, don’t carry the shit he did.  Travel light.

Ironically, his other thoughts on his travels of New Zealand – he wished he had of learnt German before he came down under and, who the f..k invented the #8 wire to fence off the landscape.  It made it nigh impossible lifting his bike up and over!

“It’s our wall to prevent tourists coming to our shores and falling in love with it that they want to come live here” was the response.  Jokingly naturally. It keeps the bigger mammals in their place.

Imagine night riding along 90 Mile Beach and the reflective eyes you encounter in your head light are at shoulder height or taller, versus what you did experience?

Taniwha’s aren’t something you would want to be biking into.  In the dark.  That’s for sure!

10/3/18 Motatapu Adventure, New Zealand

The iconic Motatapu off-road sporting event is held annually in March, traversing Motatapu, Soho and Glencoe Stations between Wanaka and Queenstown.

Known for it’s challenging-yet achievable course, the event snakes its way through stunning high-country terrain only accessible to the public one day a year.

We lined up with other hardie souls – two doing 47 kms mountaing biking; one doing the marathon; and two doingthe 15 kms Miners Trail Walk … and became entrenched where event activity collided with landscape terrain.

And the ache of age collided with ‘we ain’t getting any younger’, as well.

The track did not discriminate between old and young, experienced and novice, fit or fat, slim or fat … there was something for everyone.  As long as you stayed on it versus fall off it.

 

River crossings were inevitable.  Stay upright, pedal hard and calculated … adrenalin buzz making it all the way across.

Pedal too soft, miscalculate, fall in, soaked … adrenalin buzz for just making it across!

Coincidentally, as I rode into the final shoot to cross the finish line after the mountain bike blat, BClaire was also walking up the shoot to finish the Miners Trail walk.

The ultimate collision to be doing an event separately and then, finish it by crossing the line together.

Yeah!

13/3/18 Canadian Jibberish

We welcomed another Warmshowers guest landing onto our shores for the first time, Crystal.

She had just spent some rest and recreation in Costa Rica after cycling there from Canada, crossing the borders and then bum on bike seat through the countries of the US, Mexico, Guatamala, Honduras, Nicaragua and finally Costa Rica.

Her time here will be spent cycling south to Queenstown to play and then north to how ever far the weather permits her to explore.

Crystal is Canadian.  And also a Vegan.  How can we not be inspired to converse with this solo adventurist who can cook up a meal with no meat, dairy and the like of stuff that is not Veganish?  And enjoy both.

But wait, there was more.  Tim is also Canadian.  We first met him in a cafe in Red Deer, Canada, when we were visiting another travelling buddy, Charla.  Tim is the Dad of a young fella Jeremy whom we first met on a long boat in-between Thailand and Laos.  Ironically, Charla knew Tim but not Jeremy.  We knew Jeremy but not Tim.  Jeremy knew us and Tim.  You may want to read that paragraph again!

Tim had ventured down under to visit and explore the Kiwi way of life as well.  Equally entertaining to see someone doing something beyond what they have experienced.  Red wine does that to you!

And here we were … just so happened to have two Canadians whom had never met, now meeting for the first time.  And speak Canadian jibberish!

Travelling back from Queenstown over the weekend, we briefly re-connected with Crystal who had cycled to Geraldine from Chch; later in the evening, Tim returned for a couple of days before he departed for Auzzie.

Sometimes we don’t neet to go far to experience what the world has to offer.

Let them come to you.

2/3/2018 A 71 Year Old Engelbert

We met Engelbert off the plane having flown from Germany.  Part of his luggage did not arrive – his bike.

Engelbert had come down under to cycle New Zealand.  From Christchurch to the West Coast; up the coast and then inland to Nelson/Picton.  Across Cook Straight by ferry to Wellington and then a northern route to Auckland.

We belong to Warm Showers – a global tribe who host fellow cyclists offering a spot on a lawn to pitch a tent or a spare space on the floor to inflate an air bed.

They can doss down for a night or two – and as the tribe name reads, have a warm shower.

The currency of payment is to share conversation about travel experiences.  Or be a guest out there on the planet and be hosted by the tribe.

We were Engelbert’s introduction to Aotearoa and some kiwiana like a meat pie, a sausage roll, a custard square and weet bix.  Not vegemite, but certainly encouraged to, further up the Zealand.

He was also happy that we didn’t live upside down!  More so, that his bike arrived the day he took his first pedals.

I rode with Engelbert out of Christchurch two days ago, around the back of the air port, passed McLeans Island and Orana Park.  More for to help him get used to staying left as rightside up above the equator, they drove on the opposite side of the road.

He swung a right when we reached Old West Coast Road, I swung left. After a hongi, hug and farewell salutations of departure.

And then he became a speck heading westward.

His yesterdays facebook update …

“Yeah, I did it!
82 km, 1470 meters. The hardest day of the New Zealand tour!”

Engelbert rode from Darfield (or just beyond) to Arthurs Pass.

Quite exceptional for a fella who is 71 years of age.

A meeting of a total stranger with passion to continue to live life to it’s abundance. Inspiring.

24/2/18 Mueller Hut, Aoraki/Mt Cook: Ko Aoraki te Māunga

Enrichment is to experience fellow beings do something they signed up for without researching first, what they signed up for.

And so was the case with our mates, Tin and Lisa and, Andy and Mandy.

“Would you guys be interested in walking into a hut?”

“Yep, sure”.

And so I booked Mueller Hut.  Not so much in as it was up.

Then the abuse started. Or more the research conducted and the many questions with self doubt asked once they ascertained that Mueller Hut was a steep climb up – 1,800 metres or so.  Being a funeral celebrant had nothing to do with it.  Not at all.

But they accepted.  And made time to train, whether up Rapaki Track or the pipeline of The Bridle Path.  And persevered.

Then the day arrived and unfortunately, due to predicted 150km winds expected the day we were to descend, DOC advised not to stay overnight but to still hump it up to the Sealy Tarn and if you can get up to the Ridge, bonus.

And so they did. Up steep zig zagging steps that had a number of others traversing the altitude, voice about the challenge.

Reaching the Sealy Tarn to peer out and up the Hooker Valley, Aoraki/Mount Cook graced the horizon with share mana, it was priceless.  Ko Aoraki te Māunga.  Translated, it means Aoraki/Mt Cook is my mountain.  An important part of my mihi,

It was gut busting and crunched bone on gristle or strained muscle off tendons.  But they did it – Tin and Lisa and, Mandy and Andy.

1,797 man-made steps they ascended.  How can one not be proud of ya mates.  How can one not be enriched, by them.

Then onward and more so upward we trekked.  Mandy’s dodgy knee won out on the next part and had M & A make the call to decide to re-trace the steps back down.  The rest of us continued on.

Orange markers and tussock abated to become rock and scree, sometimes we had to lean into the mountainside to keep the balance.

And when we reached the ridge line, the force of the wind in it’s infancy gave hair a buff up as if one had stuck a finger straight into an electrical socket.  Fellow trekkers were descending and their advice was to push on for a further 20 minutes.  The Mueller Hut was that close.

As we sat looking out the windows of the Mueller Hut to Mount Ollivier, there was a sense of achievement at taking on the elements and pushing the body boundaries to view the peak Sir Edmund Hillary first climbed to begin his life’s passion for summiting peaks of the globe.  His legacy was now our reality.  The 360 degree view was absolutely stunning.  Avalanche’s across the valley were regular, as snow cascaded down cliff faces.  The wind whistled between the hut piles cemented strongly into the rock foundations below.  It reminded us to get out and down before mother nature would allow otherwise.

And so we did, meeting up the Mandy and Andy at the Hermitage Mount Cook for a celebratory ale.  Before returning back to Twizel to our hosts the night before, Mike and Anne.  The meal prepared and dished up was amazing.  Only after retiring to the mattress did the body remind us that we had pushed the thing to the limits.

It was worth it.

Enrichment is to experience fellow beings do something they signed up for without researching first, what they signed up for.

Just waiting for the team to come back to me on the next adventure proposed.  They are currently doing their research … hahahahaha, ahem!

10/2/18 Never Before Have We Experienced Such: Lake Daniells Tramp

As soon as we opened the car door at Marble Hill, the bastards started nipping to suck blood! Sandflies. The race to smoother 80% deet insect repellent over exposed skin was on. Mandy lost in receiving the greater number of welts amongst the four of us. Swore the most too, ahem!

We were 5kms east of Springs Junction toward the Lewis Pass, at the start of an 8.4 km tramp into Lake Daniell for the night.

For BClaire & I, it is one of our favourites to take novice trampers on so they can be introduced to the world of getting lost on the landscape by foot. Carrying your life. We laugh with the newbies, not at them. We do that when they are out of sight and the beauty about this track is that it it nigh impossible to get lost on.

Except for the young fella who did back in 2002 and they found his body near the Alfred River. He was 14.

This was a practice tramp as well because in a couple of weeks, Mandy and Andy with Tin and Lisa are off on another little ‘Ruru’ adventure together. Tin and Lisa weren’t able to participate in this one as they are on a beach somewhere in the Pacific!

Anyway, off we stepped and the Sluice Box where you cross a cravass looked invitingly stunning. It was only five minutes into the walk and too early to get naked. The lake at the end is okay to skinny dip in after dropping the packs so onward the team progressed.

The 50 shades of green beech forest was alive with bird song – whether the Fantail, the Robin, the Bell bird and the like. So too was there the hum of wasps. We tend to respect each others personal space so as not to encounter confrontation.

The fauna was just beautiful as sunlight beamed down through the canopy. Old man’s beard translucent and the ground covered moss spongy like the softest mattress you could imagine. Stop starting is common to new comers to rest body parts newly discovered or rusty from lack of use. Whatever the reason, it’s about taking the time to take in the surrounds.

We arrived at the Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut to day walkers eating lunch or drying off from a swim. Once they departed, apparel was shed and into the lake we plunged to cool off and wash the sweat grime off. Heads kept above water as the lake sadly was slimey underfoot. It didn’t deter us from immersing the rest of the body.

No other trampers arrived, never before have we experienced such ever, to have a hut (sleeps 24) to ourselves. Andy lit the fire (even though it is was still hot and humid outside) … it was like a kid having a new toy for the very first time. As the light faded over a game of cards, the discussion turned to spooky stories cunjuring up Jason from Friday the 13th type fears that had us huddle. The snap of the branch and a gun shot echo didn’t help neither. Those of us who were awake most of the night – Mandy, BClaire and me had Andy’s snoring to contend with. It would’ve scared any monster who lurked beyond the hut walls away!

Rain arrived during the night and it was a lazy start tracing our footsteps from the day before. Poncho’s snailed in unison; the Alfred River and Sluice Box also up above the day before’s water mark. A stop in at Hanmer to soak the bones at the hot pools, well deserved.

There is no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this and, to experience it with a couple of novices made the adventure magical.

And the next ‘Ruru’ adventure before dementia with Mandy, Andy, Tin and Lisa … google Mueller Hut!

A mare 2,200 steps give or take a couple. Up.

20/1/18 – Purau Bay, Lyttelton Harbour

Instead of tandem biking around the water, why not end up in it?

And so we did.

Was much cooler, that’s for sure!  Especially as the mercury crept up to the 30 degrees celcius.

With our mates Randall and Maree, we wound up at Purau for an impromptu picnic, sunning, swim and paddle.

Found a boat named ‘Ruru’. Could do with a little tender loving care.

More significantly, moored in the bay was the yacht ‘Chieftain’ that I helped sail around the South Island with a couple of old fella’s Wayne and Max.  I wonder if my message in the bottle has washed up somewhere yet?!

A day where best intentions got reversed and then revised that was certainly more refreshing.

Ya gotta love this country.

5/1/18 Alps to Ocean – Kurow to Oamaru 78 kms

We often go off the beaten track during adventures.

Getting lost can be both entertaining and entralling. As long as you don’t have to back pedal a heap of kilometres to regain the true compass direction!

Giant oak trees shouldered the road to escort us for most of today’s ride, the distance between varying. At their base, a white Oamaru stone cross. Inscribed on the cross, the names of soldiers who lost their lives during WWI and the year/place they fell. There were so many. The ones that pulled at the heart strings were the crosses with double names of two family members who perished.

Thinking we were lost having gone off the beaten track, we happened upon a monument. It read: ‘The Gallipoli Pine – Planted after WWI from seeds brought back from Gallipoli by Tpr: J.J. Mansfield 57526. (Joe) O.M.R.’ An arrow on the monument pointed in the direction and when we about faced, there on a hill top in the distance was ‘The Gallipoli Pine.’

Back in 2011, we walked from Istanbul to Galipolli to give homage at the Anzac Day celebrations in Turkey. My Maori Poau (Grandfather) had fought and survived the campaign. As Cesare Pavese once quoted, “we do not remember days … we remember moments” giving that exact moment some beauty, significance and feeling humbled.

Carrying on, we regained the A2O route markers. The blustery head wind didn’t deter, nor the threat of a downpour.

There is always extra in the tank when you know the end is nigh. That and us carrying rain gear should we have needed it. Oh, and the great nights sleep in a bed after the light was switched off!

What we thought was a welcoming sign ‘Kia Ora’ was in fact a road sign pointing to a settlement called Kia Ora. Who would have known?!

The Oamaru Public Gardens were in full bloom as we rode from one end to the other. By now, rain was falling. The ride through Oamaru’s new and old township to arrive at the beach was without fanfare.

Except for the hugging of each other to acknowledge our Alps to Ocean adventure before dementia had ended.

301 kms ridden.

A fantastic ride that has us repeat again, “Ya gotta love this country”

And ‘Lest we forget’ to those who fought for such.

4/1/18 Alps to Ocean – Omarama to Kurow 67 kms

There are eight power stations in the Waitaki Power Scheme however, the largest of them all is at the Benmore Dam. It’s the largest earth-filled water-retaining structure in New Zealand to hold Lake Benmore’s 1.25 billion cubic metres of the liquid stuff – water. To compare, it’s about 1.5 times as much water as Wellington harbour.

The last 800 metres riding up onto the dam itself was a slog. Sweat glistened the forehead and dribbled down skin. Moments of clenched teeth was share guts and determination to conquer Ben without stopping or walking. The reward breathtaking. Lots of breath taking actually, sucking in the oxygen to recover.

To the right and at the bottom, Lake Avimore where hordes of water craft of all sorts were making the most of summer; to the left and at the top, Lake Benmore where you could have easily been somewhere in Canada with the trees sewn onto the landscape right down to the waters edge. The water, tranquil and inviting. And deep. Very very deep.

Ominus clouds above the mountain skyline signaled a possible change in weather. We skirted Lake Avimore into a head wind that kept the temperature decent, with the sun still casting shadows where we rode.

You could smell them before you saw them. This part of the country is the habitat for introduced wild wallabies. And some took their last bounce off a vehicle to die where they landed. They reaked of road kill stench and it was frequent. Body odour had a more pleasantness about it, that’s for sure!

The Waitaki Dam was crossed and then it was head down pedaling into the head wind that had picked riding State Highway 83 on into Kurow. There was little distance between us and traffic passing so this is where you have to trust your wits about you and just go for it. And bugger me, just 500 metres to reach the Kurow township welcoming sign, another puncture.

The smell of rain was eminent. So too the remembering our night at Aoraki/Mount Cook with the lite sleeping bags, all apparel worn and fetal position. We took a motel room and had no sooner unloaded and the heavens opened up.

Turning a light switch on and off knowing no battery was needed was bliss being in hydro country.

Sleeping stretched out semi-attired was also good y’know.

The arguement started with who was going to turn off the friggin light!

3/1/18 Alps to Ocean – Twizel to Omarama 79 kms

Imagine life where you are confined to the one spot from birth to death, never ever experiencing what the world has to offer beyond such confinement.

Only to be snuffed out by the hand of a human or even worse, from a sea gull beak being consumed!

The Ohau Canal houses a salmon farm. We watched workers toss pellets into the large confinements and the top of the water splash feverishly as the salmon ate with passion. Further along the farm, a large hose ran from a confinement up onto shore and to a make shift shed. The intermittent ‘thwat’ sound was from individual salmon finally escaping except it was it’s final ‘dead fish swimming’ suck. The fish in this confinement were also swimming feverishly as well – we wondered if they knew?

Perched on the farm structure in-between were a number of seagulls. Waiting. Patiently.

It only took one smart salmon to realise what choice lay in-front and take the leap of faith jump to hopefully risk beating the odds and land in the canal before the hordes of beaks squawking “mine, mine, mine” (like they did on ‘Finding Nemo’) swoop to capture an easy meal mid-jump.

Freedom can again be short lived if the salmon make the choice to chomp onto a hook lure, cast from the anglers positioned on either sides of the canal who fish to try and capture the one that did get away.

Life as a salmon eh!

We like eating it and seeing the farm in action made the mouth moist! Especially when one is carrying de-hydrated ‘just add water’ meals and umpteen muselie bars.

We just about snuffed out a trekker on the off-road track of the Lake Ohau foreshore, walking towards us. Apologising, we learnt the young lass was stepping out the South Island part of the Te Araroa Trail, doing it north bound. We exchanged tales from the trail experiences to push on to a section of today’s ride that had us climb up to 900 metres at it’s highest point on the Tambrae Track.

When the track narrowed, so too did the under bike tyre conditions change and there was quite a bit of walking pushing the bikes and gear steadily up. It was about preserving the need to have to change a flatty as much as preserve the body fatigue that comes quicker on any given second day of distance riding. Mountain bikes without sundry would have been a breeze.

Stretching the legs allowed for safer glances backwards and take in the views across the basin to the Benmore Range. The back bone of the South Island looked just as stunning as it did yesterday.

When there is up, you are pretty much gauranteed down and it was easier riding once we summitted the height; it was also again hot, dry and dusty. There was the need to take a pit stop when a puncture did eventuate however, we were within 20kms of the Omarama township limits.

It’s a small township at the junction of State Highway 8 and 83. It’s population is boosted from anglers, astronomers, pilots who fly glider and during winter, snow sporters.  The hot tubs are wood fire heated if wanting a relaxing time to have a soak and, the Top 10 Camp Ground was certainly welcoming to a couple wanting a piece of dirt under some shade to pitch the tent.

Catching up with family friends who reside in Omarama was an additional bonus. They served us up some fresh salmon fillets caught earlier in the day and smoked with a brown sugar and sweet chilli sauce/apricot sauce glaze.

An unexpected different type of mouth moist from earlier this morning. It was devine.

With one eye on the sky keeping check on no sea gull overhead.

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