Escape • Explore • Enjoy

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

Category: New Zealand Places Visited (page 1 of 11)

Nina Hut: Bookings Not Required – First Come, First Served

Follow the arrow this way.

Nina Hut sits on an open knoll surrounded by beech forest and mountains.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) information reads that it is an easy 1-3 hour walk to the 10-bunk bed hut; is a good overnight option for families with children who have some tramping experience or new trampers and, bookings not required – first come, first served.

An ideal start to getting out onto the back-yard landscape.  We had even convinced a friend (Maree) whom surprisingly accepted our invite to join us even though the toilet was going to be a long drop and sleeping conditions possibly squashed up alongside a total stranger.

It had a log fire and so purchasing a bag of kindling and wooden logs bridged the thought of a snuggly night up in the bush, away from suburbia.  All we had to do was carry them in and walk the distance for it to become a reality.

Kindling and logs for the hut log fire.

We forgot that Maree doesn’t do crossing swing bridges without hyperventilating nigh on having a heart attack.  So, when we parked up the car, lifted the back packs onto our backs and walked a couple of hundred metres up the road to the start of the track, we arrived at our first of two swing bridges to cross.  The maximum one-person load per crossing didn’t help the situation however, we managed to coach Maree across giving high fives when we too swayed unevenly to reach the bank beyond.

The first swing bridge to cross.

The Lewis River.

There, there was the hut book where you sign in to advise your intention as a mountain safety practice.  Oh f..k!  Ahead of us was a group of 11 Venturer Scouts going to stay the night at the hut and, already a family of five who were going to stay a second night.  It meant the hut was full and squashing our best laid plans to escape into the wilderness for the night.

The conversation that followed resulted us in going back to the car, dumping all the overnight stuff to still head into the hut for a day trek, only carrying a day pack.  But before we did any of that, we had to get Maree back across the river and then, back across the river for a third time!  With incremental confidence each time, she did it.  The firewood purchased too sat in the car as we traipsed off towards Nina.

The lushness of fauna and flora rising from the forest floor to stretch up towards the light was staggeringly stunning.  All shades of greens complemented the earthly smelling browns (rot and decay) and care had to be taken navigating tree roots.  Sometimes we had to negotiate sections of track that were mud baths – it was easy to follow someone’s tracks who had gone before, sniggering at a wrong step where the imprint would eventually crust up from the sun’s rays or fill up from a down pour.

Creek crossings were part and parcel of the track, keeping balance critical so as not to end up on your arse saturated.  Walking poles helped.  There was undulation.  The track cut towards flowing river water and then inland to total silence where only our conversation broke the tranquillity.  We had to go further into the valley before bird song was heard.  It’s slowly rebounding after pests have decimated the native feathered friends to close to extinction.  Traplines to snare stouts or weasels play their part – two vermin had taken the bait to lay lifeless from the snapped shut trap.

We were encapsulated by the dark green water depths from a gorge.  Water must rise and fall considerably as two tree trunks laid horizontal up the cliff faces.  A joke was made that we would have to cross it using the logs for Maree’s sake.  Hahahahahaha as we all laughed.

Green meets brown.

Undulation.

The path for when it bogs.

Life on the forest floor.

Emerald Green of Nina River.

That didn’t last long.  We climbed a small rise to a second swing bridge that we couldn’t see because of the tree canopy.  Below were the logs we joked about.  Getting Maree across was another team effort and again, she got there.   We didn’t joke about stuff like that again!

The next two hours was more track, tree roots, mud negotiation, creek crossings and green and browns.  Arriving at the hut was welcomed and yep, chock full of other beings staying the night.  We sat down outside with views of snow-capped mountain tops to eat lunch.

And then they came, by the hundreds.  The Sandfly.  Or, Sandflies to be more accurate.  They are vicious little bastards that sink their mouth parts into unprotected skin to draw blood; leaving a welt that can be itchy from the excretion they inject before the sucking.  We may not have poisonous snakes or spiders or wild beasts – but we do have the sandfly that is the scourge of the bush to ruin all types of forest paradise.  Even though Bushmans 80% Deet insect repellent was lathered on, the little bastards will still kamikaze in to locate the parts missed to take the bite.  In-between bites, hands were working overtime to slap as many as we could dead.

Crossing the higher swing bridge.

Not far now.

The blood sucking Sand Fly.

Nina Hut.

Snare-traps doing their job to eradicate pest vermin who have decimated our native birds.

The Gorge.

Chatting with the Fan Tail.

Carrying fly spray is a must if staying the night so as you can fumigate the hut before climbing into your sleeping bag for the night.  That too was back down at the car.

Some photo’s taken and then we retraced our steps back down the mountainside; Maree crossing the swing bridges with better ease.  Back at the car, we made the decision to head back towards home, stopping in at Hanmer Springs for a hot pool soak.  Well deserved, given the six or so hours on the feet.

Arrr, what the heck, we found a lovely backpacker’s to crash the night, picked up some Scrumpy Cider for Maree as we consumed the wine disguised in our water bottle and enjoyed a chat with a fellow backpacker who was sharing the joint.

Made special because, the fella was in his early nineties.

Sometimes the best laid plans when disrupted can end up resulting in a better time had.

It’s just how the world turns, sometimes.

Scrumpy Cider – thirst quenching 8% Alcohol to sooth aching body parts.

Seek the treasure you value most dearly.

Onuku, Banks Peninsula, Aotearoa (New Zealand)

It’s been a just over a week since the transition back into our New Zealand life.

Spring is at full speed; New Zealand wine is the best; daylight saving has arrived and, there is something too be said about sleeping in your own bed.

But one shouldn’t get too comfortable.

We have a back yard to escape onto, explore more of, so as we too get to enjoy our own slice of paradise.

Just like all those who cross our borders to visit or come to live.

“Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei.”

Translated, “Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.”

This whakatauki is about aiming high for what is truly valuable, but it’s real message is to be persistent and don’t let obstacles stop you from reaching your goal.

Just include some escaping to explore to enjoy people.

No matter where on the planet.

Chew It, Chew It, Chew It

CHEW IT, CHEW IT, CHEW IT

Cycling the length of New Zealand to raise money for a stranger on a hospital waiting list.

Written and illustrated by Brent Ruru.

 

Finished the manuscript to the next book, illustrations in progress. Thought I would give you a glimpse as to the story captured, weaved and hopefully, not to long before ready to share.

INTRODUCTION

“Bite off more than you can chew and then, chew it”

There were two details I remember.

Cameron our son stating the sentence and, what was said.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to cycle the length of New Zealand.”

It was 2004. He was fourteen at the time.

I had just finished reading No Opportunity Wasted written by Phil Keoghan and was working on identifying my eight steps to getting the most out of life, as challenged by Phil. Thanks to Cameron, the Test Your Limits step now had a purpose. And meaning.

Cycle the length of New Zealand to raise money for a stranger on a hospital waiting list.

That’s it.

Decided.

Writing it down made it official. It gave it substance. More so, a focus.

Naturally, the voice on one of the shoulders was having a great time playing on the thoughts that we were biting off more than we could chew.

However, the other voice on the other shoulder was equally whispering, “chew it, chew it, chew it!”

When instinct pushes us to explore, we push boundaries outside ourselves; when we test personal limits, we push boundaries within us.

And so, we did.

Chew it.

All the other details are captured as follows.

Whatever your boundary, push beyond it.

The chew is worth it.

 

Switch It Up Just A Few More Steps

Switching out and switching up during today’s micro-adventure made for a far greater reward in a better food nourishment choice and, a more spectacular view.

The destination was the same – feel goooooooood.

Isn’t that was life is about?

Find A Purpose To Get Out There

Find a purpose to get out there on a micro-adventure and then give it meaning by doing.

The reward might be a sausage roll which adds substance to what you end up doing.

Once swallowed of course.  After chewing.  Which is before purchasing.  Because you ventured.

I’ll stop now.

Switch Things Around & Make Time For the Impromptu Micro-adventure

Perhaps our first instinct is to check our calendar or diary to see what’s on when asked to join a mate or friend or just people doing a micro-adventure activity in the outdoors.

The question becomes, can you re-arrange your schedule so that you can get out an do it?

Sure it takes diplomacy when the task may involve a third person.  Or even if it’s a special day.

The conversation can be a heck of a lot more fruitful when you are out of breath doing it … you don’t speak so much BS, that’s for sure.

Try this challenge of accepting an outdoor activity for the next 21 days when asked, by moving your diary around to participate. As much as you can to be adventuring, whilst you still can.

A MAD Mall Micro-Adventure, Where Age is No Barrier

MAD is the acronym for Marie, Alison and Dianne.

I introduced myself to them this morning on a micro-adventure in a Mall.

Yep, you read that right, before the shops opened.

Alison has been doing what I involved myself with for 13 years; Dianne for 7 years and Marie, for as long as she can remember as next month she turns 87 years of age.

Nothing MAD about them!

Age is not a barrier for this micro-adventure AND, you keep in shape too.

Even if gravity has taken a hold!

Inclement Weather Should Not Deter a Micro-Adventure

Inclement weather should not deter a micro-adventure … there is nothing compared to mud in your face and grit between your teeth.

My only wish … remembering my water bottle. Ahem!

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!

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