Escape • Explore • Enjoy

While the bodies still can and we still have our marbles!

Category: KiWe Conversations (page 1 of 5)

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!

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

29/3/17 I Love Chocolate

Who doesn’t love chocolate?

An early morning drop off to the airport for another Te Araroa Trail walker Rob, who completed the whole distance by foot.

We met Rob half way down the North Island and then played ‘cat and mouse’ on route till Wellington.

If you want to be fascinated by his keenness to capture life at it’s most starriest … check out some of his night shots of the solar system over New Zealand on his fb page photos.

‘I have chocolate’ was his signage used to hitch a ride from the deep south to Christchurch. We ate what was left over so as to make room for the three books we donated to him so as to de-clutter some more!

Keeping us in focus to work smarter, not harder was welcomed. Adventure before dementia … eating heaps of Caremello naturally!

Cheers Rob, loved the visit.

26/12/16 Tongariro National Park: Her Name Was Judith

dsc00309Her name was Judith.  She is 78 years of age.

Her tiny body frame had curvature from a slightly arched back however, she held eye contact when conversing.  And although she spoke with a British accent, she had weathered the New Zealand enunciation from having lived here so long.  Her current place of residence is Wanganui.

Taking the bus to Tongariro National Park, she had booked into the YHA Hostel for three nights.  Rapport was quick when she threw out a smile and salutation greeting.  She did this with everyone whom glanced her way.  Only the very young didn’t bother to acknowledge her presence perhaps seeing some old woman out of character in a youth hostel.

When we arrived back after our crossing on Christmas Day, she had perched herself in a corner.  Probably sat there all day as her ability to walk very far was limited due to her now frailness.  A plastic bag with goodies to keep her nourished and a book borrowed from the Library.  Yet, her smile of belonging was infectious.  There was further communication describing our day on the volcanic tundra and then it was our turn.  We listened to her describing her experiences of walking the lands back in the 70’s.  Those days for her are long gone but she painted the picture as if she too had joined us on our walk only a few hours earlier.

Another family trying to co-share the oven had their pork roll generate smoke to fog the kitchen and dining area but luckily, didn’t set off the smoke alarm.  We changed method to microwave and then pan fry our vegetables to accompany our medium rare steak.  Judith shared her icing sugar for us to sprinkle on our strawberries.  It was our Christmassy treat and certainly masked the bitterness zing of just a raw berry.

Catching a train to Palmerston North and then a bus to Wanganui, Judith was returning home today.  We asked how she was getting to the station 800 metres down the road.  I’ll just walk and my suitcase has wheels.  BClaire escorted her pulling the handle for Judith and there was time for BClaire to shout a coffee at the station café.  A return treat for her icing sugar donation.

Judith has no immediate family in New Zealand.  Some nephews and nieces but they have their own lives.  She has lots of friends and associations which begged the question why she would come to the YHA hostel at the Park to spend Christmas Day?  We have yet to experience solitude loneliness at an old age.  Even then we would want to be around fellow beings to share in the emotion the day itself conjures up.  Even a cat would suffice we suppose!

Our inquisitive minds asked the question, why here Judith?  Why have you come to the Park to spend your Christmas day with total strangers?

Her response:

”If I had of stayed at home, there would be too many people who would make a fuss over me and I get that all year.  This was a place I could get to with public transport.  It’s a place to be able to have some quiet time in my own space.  I chose this place because it’s where nature can be seen from the window and, this place brings back some fond memories of when I traversed the view I could see from where I sat.  The people I have met here during my time keeps my memories young.  Whilst I still can remember.”

We have arranged to meet up for another coffee when we arrive into Wanganui after the canoeing section of the Te Araroa Trail.

The loveliest genuine smile you could ever wish for in a fellow being.

The place wasn’t the same without her presence today.  But remembered.

1/10/16 Old Saybrook to New Jersey: Introduced To The Borat Suit By An English Fella

When the message came through first thing, we were gutted for Ken.

Someone had stolen his bike overnight from his warmshowers homestay in Boston.

Ken had cycled from Seattle to Mexico on it; had shared our journey having crossed Canada on it; and was now tracking south toward Cuba on it.

When you spend cupious amounts of time in solitude on it, the relationship you have with the bike is a not only a partnership, it is a friendship.  Like a pet is to an animal lover, a bike is to a cyclist.

Mind you, there were moments on our ride where we hoped the tandem would get flogged!  It would have been easier to use an excuse to give up versus a reason to keep going.  Hindsight is wonderful and we are happy that it wasn’t.

The key is that when faced with adversity and things do go wrong, do you get better or bitter?  Do I approach it with the glass-half full or keep re-living it as the glass half-empty?  Either way, the choice is ours to make, no matter the opinion or advice of others.

We hit the road bound for New Jersey deciding to take the number one feeder road off the highway for most of it.  We zigged and we zagged  and we stopped and we started (over 500 traffic light intersections!) as we skirted the outer limits of down town New York.

Joining the dots from Old Saybrook New Jersey took over six hours with more neighbourhood suburbia living and business districts navigated.

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Pulling up out front of our friends Joan and Kevin that was a long time in the making, became a reality.  What was significant about this visit is the deja vu timing of it.

fb_img_1475490490421After we cycled the length of New Zealand back in 2007, we decided to take a rest holiday on a small Fijian Island – Matamanoa, whereby we met a group of people including Joan and Kevin.  And now nine years later we were here after our Canadian cycling about to spend time with J & K again.  We were fizzed to say the least.

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By the time we were boated off Matamano, our wood and straw Bure became the ‘happy hour’ place to happy hour at before the resort ‘happy hour’; we attended two hen/bachelor parties and their respective weddings with being the bridesmaid and best man at one of them; coached the whole island the ‘haka’ so as the surrounding islands could hear the nightly performance; was introduced to the ‘borat suit’ by an English fella who won his ticket to the island from entering a shopping mall kareoke competition during a lunch hour and won; and amongst other things, mentored the card game ‘Five Crowns’ to the group who have become close friends regardless of their geographical residence.

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We expect the next couple of days will be much like the time spent with them before out in the Pacific … happy hours, banter, laughter, five crowns and a haka or two.

Listen for them!

Before we knocked on the door, a pause was taken to remember the others from Matamanoa.

And a short “keep going Ken” under the breath.

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3/8/16 Brockville to Morrisburg: We Sharpen Skates, Garden Tools And Lots More (Pt3) – Morrisburg, Population 2600

DSC03960-1280x853The hearts of both John and Chantal go beyond words of explaination apart from a couple: they are BIG.

As we settled into more spin, laughter, banter and exchaning global citizenship experiences (they are both seasoned travellers), John went about firing up a homemade hot tub using a wood burner water heating set up. The ambiance of smoke and the possibility of catching the dry patchment alight would add flavour to what was an already unbelieveable act of kindness encounter.

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I have always maintained that a journey isn’t about the rushing from point A to point B. It is about the bit in the middle, the journey to take the time to travel the in-between through looking up; to see; to smell; to feel; the taste; and to hear. It’s about the conversations had, the art of listening to words spoken more so.

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Morrisburg, population 2600. Everytime a girl gets pregnant, one guy leaves town!

There are two pages in the phone book with people with the same surname. When one couple got married, her surname was the same before she married him!

Or, there is one homosexual in town. If you go to a party and fall asleep, you end up being his date!

It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone. Not like the West Coasters back home in New Zealand though. Didn’t see one person here with six fingers!

It wasn’t hard to see how John and Chantal’s generosity wasn’t only limited to strangers on bikes just passing through.

DSC04179-1280x853For over a year, John built and maintained an outdoor ice rink for the town citizens and visitors off his own passion. Having collected both boys and girls skates from yard sales and the like, he provided them free of charge to anyone who needed a pair to go slide across the frozen water. What it took to keep it cold and hard was irrelavant. He saw smiles of fellow beings both young and old just having fun, and lots more.

What an amazing couple who make up the numbers in Morrisburg … who sharpen saws, garden tools and a hell of a lot more.

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A cultivated spirit for the good of others.

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