The Ruru's

T.I.M.E. Habits • Minimalists • Travel Enthusiasts

Category: Trekking (page 2 of 8)

Angelus Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park: Covering Up

St Arnaud village is the gateway to the Nelson Lakes National Park.

It’s easily accessible from Christchurch (via the Lewis Pass), Blenheim or Nelson; and offers a variety of outdoor adventure for the novice and experienced. Furthermore, sandflies don’t distinguish between wealth, age or nationality!

It’d been ten months since our feet had worn trekking boots and the compass direction we embarked on had been on the radar since forever. Cripes, we knew it had been a while also since shouldering a back pack too. Sometimes we take aging gracefully for granted, strewth!

However, while the body still can, we will.

Straddling Lake Rotoiti on the western side, the canopy forest of manuka and beech sheltered us from sun’s heat. Insect repellent, sun screen and human combustion moisture blurred. The water looked inviting but was certainly frigid and the odd care at foot placement from landslipped mountainside had us steadily pace the 12 odd kilometres to Coldwater Hut.

It sleeps twelve; there was already a party of six settled having cheated with taking a boat the length of the lake. Another two arrived after us to share the view; the swallows dancing; the giant monster eels at the end of the jetty; and the hordes of bite sucking natives.

Dipping your feet into the water is optional with what lurks below. Covering up with 80% deet above it wasn’t.

Both balanced out the pleasant emotion that it felt fantastic to be back on the landscape, exploring.

Before we can’t!


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.

27/1/17 Te Araroa Trail North Island Refection

The smell of walking the Te Araroa trail still lingers on our clothes worn even after we have stopped walking a couple of days ago.  Even after they have been machine washed.  A couple of times.  Some would grimace.  We don’t.  We grin.  It keeps the memories alive.  The landscape.  The food.  The connections made.  The hitch hiking rides.  The animal life encountered.  The homestays.  The lost toe nails.  The times we didn’t enjoy the moment. The scabs from itchy bites.  The messages of support and well wishes.

They are all part and parcel of a journey of our North Island.  From end to end.  We’ve loved it.  How could we not?  We have said farewells to the Te Araroa family with sadness as others continue across the waters to the South Island.  But, we are excited about saying “Kia Ora” to our families and mates whom will be at the end of the gangway when we arrive back home into Christchurch.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed to our journey.  As we have mentioned before, it’s the people connected with in the flesh and the conversation had in the person that remain long after the boots come off.  Priceless experiences you can’t capture in a photo.

Since we departed for Canada, we have scripted over 295 daily blog posts.  It too has been a gratifying ritual that we hope you have enjoyed as much as we have in posting them.  This is the last one as we now transition back into suburbia habitat for a short breath of fresh air.

For a short while naturally.

It’s been a hoot.

24/1/17 Wellington Botanical Gardens to Island Bay – 17 kms: Not All Who Wander Are Lost

We retraced our route by bus back to where we ended yesterday’s walking and bumped into Ben from the Yukon whom we met at hut two up in the Tararua Ranges.  He too was doing what we were at finishing the North Island part today and joined us.  The more the merrier!

Nick and I had this crazy idea of doing a pie-athon across the city.  This is where you eat as many pies along the way and so started with one before we trudged out the last of the steps.  It was the staple diet we missed when chomping continuous tuna and two-minute noodles and so downed a mince and cheese Irvines pie without hesitation.  It was delicious!  Claire and Ben were non-participative.

We entered into the Botanical Gardens themselves, only to get lost.  Yep, we had followed a route map all the way down the island without issue and now struggled to getting the path right to exit the thing.  It was not only ridiculous but embarrassing!  We had to back track and criss-cross and sometimes ask for directions.  Setting off the Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) did become a topic of conversation at one point.  When we eventually did exit, it was a little longer than anticipated.  If you were to ask what we saw in foliage and fauna – have no idea.  The focus was on getting out of the damn thing!  A consolation was that the view from the top of the cable car was nice, white caps on the harbour water indicating it being a little blustery.  It’s not called Windy Wellington because of farting!

There we were, TA walkers in grungy apparel walking up a main street of downtown toward finely dressed pedestrians.  Being polite later that evening, my cousin mentioned that we were kind of smelly before we left this morning.   That would have explained some pedestrians over taking us walking in the same direction quite rapidly.  Jeez, I wondered if the old work colleague we bumped into felt the same.  I think it was a smile to see me versus a grimace from the hug I gave him, and being stinky!

The buzz of city busyness with folk going about their life was just manic.  Somewhere along the way here, we lost Ben.  So too did the pie-athon evaporate!  We reached the waterfront and it too was active with people jogging the bay.  Already thoughts of keeping the fitness level sustained beyond the trail are on the radar so as to keep the tube around the belly from expanding.  The mountain bike seat is beckoning …

But there was plenty of fitness incorporated in the last 10 kms.  We peeled off the bay and climbed up on to the slopes of Mt Victoria following Wellington’s ‘Southern Walkway’.  We crested the ridgeline to view Wellington City from yesterday’s opposite bearing; thunder from the airport to the left where planes were coming and going; and to the front, the open blue sea got closer.  Mt Albert was ascended for a last altitude photo from the trig before the descend down to the coastline for the last time.

It was timely to read some graffiti on a public toilet block, ‘Not all who wander are lost.’

There is a ship’s propeller positioned as a monument to a naval ship that was scuttled off the coast after it was de-commissioned.  Nick had served on the thing when it was in active service up in the Gulf and as he stood there, he was in deep thought of reflection.  Pollen in the eyes he said before we continued.

We reached Shortland Park and our last steps magnitised to the sea boundary fence.   We found what we set out to do at the start of today.  Huh, we weren’t lost afterall.

A stone cairn memorial marking the end (or beginning) of Te Araroa in the North Island.

23/1/17 Porirua to Wellington Botanical Gardens – 31 kms: The Best of the Worst

The weather bombs over the past ten days have been unbelievable.  It’s supposed to be our summer and it would be fair to script that this has been the best of the worst summer one can remember.  The amount of rain has been phenomenal and has caused havoc up and down the country.

There was a forecasted break today although at 8am this morning, you would think we were in for another layover.  At 9am, we decided to take the risk and with all our wet weather apparel on, we stepped out into the puddles to be rained on.

The track up to Colonial Knob was under cover from ferns and Nikau palms and there were a number of steps to ascend.  It wasn’t long before the sweat beads rolled down the forehead so stopping to disrobe apparel made it more comfortable.  To our astonishment, the rain had certainly abated and when we broke undergrowth cover, the clouds had dispersed somewhat providing us with spectacular views of Porirua City proper.

The 14 kms walked to Mt Kaukau was just a smorgasbord of 360° views.  Bumps from the Tararua Ranges on the northern horizon; the Rimutaka Ranges more prominent being closer; Wellington City a haze of houses and skyscrapers; giant wind propellers adorned the southern horizon.  Out to the west, the mighty landscape of the top of the South Island.  We were below it now latitude wise; and finishing the directional clock, Kapiti Island stood motionless in a distance form of blue.

Sheep and cattle grazed the pastures; the man-made pine forest was aged as the trunks of the trees rose high into the sky.  Ohariu Valley introduced more habitat with a huge equestrian community tending to the care and maintenance of the horse’s present.  Every now and again we gave way to woman and beast sharing the tar seal being walked.  They never get told off for fouling the roads!  Mind you, the fresh stuff was probably a sweet smell better than our body odour after the haul trodden so far.

The ascent up to Mt Kaukau itself was gradual encountering day walkers.  The telecommunications tower a beacon from all angles and it was out last altitude to be summited in the North Island.  We could make out more distinctive features of the Capital City itself and although the legs were feeling the distance, the adrenalin of the end being in sight carried us some more.

Close to the Botanical Gardens, a call was made to a cousin seeking a resting place for the night.  Our attempt to reach Te Papa Museum fell short by approx. 4kms; the bodies were ready to lay down in protest.  Another 31 kms today.  Tomorrow, we will finish for sure and bring home the closing of the North Island leg.

We sat eating our evening meal with family to experience the sun slide down behind the silhouette of the South Island.  You felt like you could reach out and just touch it.

It won’t be long before we do.

22/1/17 Porirua Layover

It rained. It poured.  It blew.

We had a layover day!

21/1/17 Raumati South to Porirua: We Cracked One

“Do you have any cabins available?”

We sat in Countdown in Porirua asking the question of the camp site operators still another kilometre away.  The weather had turned crap again during our walking and to tent with the weather to sour worse, we weren’t in the zone to test the canvas water proofing grade.

They did and with our plastic bags of grocery items, we hobbled the remainder of what was our longest day distance walking on the whole of the North Island part.

The day started with Denise and Chris walking with us as far as Paekakariki.  It was overcast but pleasant, an on-shore wind enough to keep the body temperature just nice under the pump of back pack carriage.  Stopping for a cuppa at a café in Paekakariki was where we met up with someone we had met at the hostel in Paihia – Gordon.  He had been following our journey and our paths managed to cross again today.

Pie shops are an addiction and we just had to savour one for the road before we parted company with Gordon, Chris and Denise.  It had been an amazing three days with folk, it kind of felt our start towards the transition back into suburbia habitat.  People, food, beer and pies.

Walking the remainder of the trail will be our final salute to the North Island generosity imposed on us throughout the adventure.  The next bit we encountered was the Paekakariki Escarpment.

It’s a relatively new track from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay and runs high above State Highway 1 and railway, reaching 220 metres above sea level.  There is gradient with the help of wooden stairs; two swing bridges to maintain height; and sometimes fencing to negate track erosion or human tumble!  The views are spectacular and although the wind was sometimes blustery along the 10 km stretch, we would rate it as being a fantastic part of the Te Araroa Trail.

After reaching Pukerua Bay, we made the decision to keep pushing forward until Porirua.

It was on this section that we passed the Taupo Swamp.  The 30-hectare wetland area is the largest remaining swamp where harakeke (flax) is harvested, surviving more than 150 years of human-induced change.  We tried to imagine all the flowers in full bloom.

It wasn’t long before the drizzle started to descend from the sky above.  Generally you would pick up the pace somewhat however, given the distance we had already walked, just moving forward was the focus.

The relief to un-shoulder our back packs was a tremendous feeling.  We had cracked the 35 km distance in a day’s walk.  Consider that the closest to this was when we did the 30 kms on Ninety Mile Beach.  We were happy with the achievement and know part of the adrenalin is because we are only two days out from finishing.

The orange street lights of Porirua ignited the city.  It wasn’t long before they too became hazy as the drizzle became more solid rain.  There is something to be said about the pitter patter of droplets on a roof.

Thank goodness it wasn’t a bl..dy canvas one!

20/1/17 Paraparaumu to Raumati South: A Day of Greatness

The body eventually caved into the mind which caved into the soul and had Vicki drop us back off opposite the Waikanae train station for us to walk the bit we were supposed to do yesterday.  Braden, Jack and Logan joined our meander atop the Waikanae River banks in the direction of the sea.  Reserve preservation has been fantastic and to watch native birds sharing the fruits of summer had us stop and stare as they fed.  Kereru, Tui and Fantail.

Today’s sky evaporated the grey to become blue and at last, there was some warmth in the ball of yellow above.  We bid our goodbyes to Vicki, Jack and Logan as we hoisted the backpacks up onto the body frames.  Braden and Jess escorted us along the beach and out of their suburb.

Kapiti Island looked radiant on the horizon as we left our foot imprints on the beach sand.  Reaching the cusp between Raumati Beach and Raumati South, a text was sent to this time, people we knew.  It was another pre-arranged stop and, well over due.

Their figures appeared coming toward us in our direction.  The voices of greeting were heard well before we could press the flesh for kisses, hugs and handshakes.  It turned neighbours heads and stopped cars in the street.  Jonielle was on a tightish timeframe to complete the North Island walking and decided to carry on some more.  More commotional street noise as we bid her farewell.

Denise and Chris were a couple that we had first met at a campsite back in 2011.  It was at a place called ‘Ginger’ at the head waters of the Nile River in Uganda, East Africa.  From memory, we think we even watched an All Black test together the following morning before we parted company.  We hadn’t seen them since although, have kept in touch over the years.

What makes this couple special was that when we first met, they had just built a school for children in Kenya.  Their story of how they ended up there through their son’s project on tracing their family tree was one that you could make a movie out of.  Denise did publish a book telling the story.

“I Share My Heart With Africa” is a beautiful read and if you love biographies, you won’t be disappointed when you add it to your book shelf or Kindle Library, either from or Amazon.

They are the most amazing couple who since we have met, have built a second school in Kenya.  Gate crashing their barbque, we meet other friends of theirs whom welcomed us to share in an evening to learn more about these remarkable hosts.  It was so much fun.

And easy to top up on beers from the previous night’s hosting at that!

Today started with one set of great people and ended with another set of great people.

A day of greatness.

19/1/17 Levin to Paraparaumu: 400 Mind, Body & Soul Reasons

There is only one commuter train that rattles the tracks towards Wellington in the morning.  We didn’t look the part in our attire as the numbers grew waiting for the single head-light to appear from the north.  When it did, the hordes of commuters scrambled on board as did we to take a seat.  By 7am, we were clickity clicking south.  We could get used to this type of travel!

It was yet another farewell to Mike as he was continuing on south as Jonielle, Claire and I disembarked at Waikanae.  We had planned to walk the 8ish odd kilometres to where Nick was staying (at a cousins) and too was offered a night’s accommodation for which we gratefully accepted.

Walking shorter distances is better for the mind, body and soul.

However, it was too early to call Nick to advise our arrival; Jonielle needed a re-supply so we headed to a supermarket that just so happened to have a café attached and only just opened.  Between a bite of a scone, the skies opened up and by some coincidence, Nick called in-between another bite.  We just waited for our pick up!

Not walking at all is even better for the mind, body and soul, ahem.

Meeting Braden, Vicki his wife and sons Jack and Logan was just the start of what turned out to be 24 hours of a connection as if we had known this lot before; and were just catching up.  The salutary introductions and rapport building quickly evolved into great conversations about likeminded travel and the strive for life simplicities.  Jonielle was invited to stay and so too added an international flavour to perspectives.  Not once did we mention anything to do with Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration.  Only a dozen times.

With still a day ahead of us, we visited Southward Car Museum that houses a collection of over 400 vehicles (and some aircraft).  It’s a Kapiti Coast gem worth a stop to visit. The collection includes Marlen Dietrich’s Cadillac cabriolet, a 1915 Stutz Indianapolis race car, a 1950 Cadillac “gangster special” that belonged to gangster Mickey Cohen, and an 1895 Benz Velo, imported to New Zealand in 1900.

When we got to the cars in the collection we grew up with, back seat experiences became a theme of conversation.  Those leather experiences should best too to lie in some mental archival memory museum as well, moving right along.

We did fit in a small beach walk at the mouth of the Waikanae River.  The tide was pushing in so there was some wetness to feet as white caps paved a view out to Kapiti Island.  It’s one of New Zealand’s oldest and most important nature reserves situated 5 km off the coast.  Humans can visit but not reside.

On a day like today, it was best to be off the water.

Although Jess the family pouch found enjoyment wading into its surf chasing a stick thrown.

Wonder if we chucked a walking pole, the enthusiasm would be the same.  Another mind, body and soul moment when the hospitality was such that we could easily be adopted to stay and live if the offer was extended.

It wasn’t.  Bugger.

What time is the train due in the morning?

18/1/17 Levin Kiwi Holiday Park: 2 + 2 = Double the Smell

A text from Mike who we canoed with down the Wanganui River advised that due to the pending weather bomb, he was not going to attempt the Tararua Ranges but instead, make his way to Wellington.  We offered a night in our six-berth bunk room to share a comfy mattress bed as a transit stopover and that just down the road, there was a fish and chip shop.

Mid-afternoon, there was a knock at the door.  Mike arrived and he had brought a fellow walker guest, Jonielle from the US.  There were enough single beds for everyone.

Jonielle was a seasoned walker having completed parts of the Pacific Crest Trail in the US.  It’s fun to watch facial expressions when you ask how our trail compares.  Nearly everyone admits that ours is by far harder terrain wise.

With the inclement weather to continue into the tomorrow, the plan was for us to hitch a train just up the line to Waikanae.  Nick who we thought would take another day to descend out of the Tararua Ranges had humped it out in totality and was now waiting for us to catch him up.

As the heavens opened up, we brought in four pairs of boots and placed them in the toilet off the bunkroom.

Can you imagine the stench when boot odour meets fish and chip odour?

Nothing compares!

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