Playtime is not only for children.
Playtime is not only for children.
As we departed west toward the Southern Alps, the weather was a balmy sunny morning. Not a candyfloss cloud in the sky.
The Rakaia Gorge Track was in no man’s land. As we started the 10 odd kilometre walk, sunshine. Just 3 kilometres inland, driving rain has us cowering under vegetation canopy. The wind picked up too giving caution to it being hypothermic possibilities.
It made for the track to become rivers of mud. Bets were made as to who would ‘arse up’ first. Staying on the track was paramount as a slide down into the Rakaia River would have been a drenching for sure. Fortunately, no one did.
Once down on the grey whacky shingle bed looking back toward the bridges that connected the Inland Scenic Route, we were back in the rays and it didn’t take long to dry out.
Bell birds sang. Rabbits hopped. Jet boats jetted. The girls gaggled.
In-between the munching of course!
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.
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.
Our days of living out of a back pack or suitcase have come to an end!
For the time being anyway.
During the week, we relocated back into our 80m2 abode after a month of putting the heads down at various locations. There is something to be said about finding the contours of your own mattress or the smells of your pillow comfort. The ability to walk naked when one wanders to the bathroom or to make a cup of tea under the cover of night is just a relaxed feeling.
Remembering to shut the curtains before turning the lights on is a habit to be re-mastered. We will get there, ahem!
It too has been a month of backyard pace doing activity conducive to working our plan be get back to again adventuring this beautiful landscape we have. And to eventually get lost in another’s.
Attending a travel expo does that to you. Collecting magazines with images of hinterland and adventure does that to you. You only need to affix one image of a destination you want to explore to your external fridge door to remind you to take daily action toward realizing it. It does that to you.
But alas, there is a heap of work still to be done first. In the now.
I have picked up where I left off with my previous employer doing family dispute resolution mediation co-ordination and Claire has picked up a role sorting freight for CourierPost in the evenings.
Claire has launched her Bookkeeping services to small to medium businesses. I have launched my availability to be your Celebrant whether for matching people (marriages) or dispatching people (funerals).
Our mentor Jim Rohn says it well, “wages will make you a living, profits will make you fortune.” We don’t need much fortune to travel how we do. And our little piece of residence contributes to that, 80m2 of space means less dusting and minimal gardening.
Getting our belongings out of storage and unwrapping our possessions has been like Christmas. Putting up our Christmas Tree (although artificial and who made up the rules to say you can only do it at the merry time of the year?) has been fun. Placing the decorations reflective – the sandals from Vietnam; the figurines from East Africa; the turtle from Sri Lanka; the calendar from Egypt; the piece of rock from Mt Everest Base Camp. Nothing artificial about these. Just heartfelt reminders for us to stay focused on what has mattered most, collecting experiences.
An impromptu message via Linkedin yesterday from a couple visiting Christchurch whom Claire worked with in Dubai all those years ago, and becoming friends, was the best house warming surprise we could have ever imagined. Having them over for a meal and converse about life that was, life that is and life that is to be, priceless.
These are the type of experiences we refer too.
And timely to communicate that we are back on deck and now settled. Ready for those wanderers looking for a place to rest THEIR heads. It may be tiny however, it will be homely.
Naturally, family and friends too!
Ho, ho, ho.
What’s with the change of title from ‘Kiwi Minimalists’ to ‘Adventure Before Dementia.’
It goes without writing that one of our passions is travel. Adventure travel while the bodies still can and, while we still have our marbles!
The recent blog journaling posts have been to capture and share our recent travel escapades. Its intent was to hopefully stimulate you too to perhaps go visit lands of distant far or even within your own borders. To travel is to live and to live is to travel.
There was bugger all posts on the ‘why’, ‘what’ or ‘how to’ essentials of living a minimalistic lifestyle. Something else we are passionate about and will continue to incorporate into our daily life.
Plus, there is loads of stuff to inspire you on living with less to be, have or do more of what matters most at the end of your screen there for the reading. Joshua Becker’s www.becomingminimalist.com or ‘The Joy of Less’ e-book by Francine Jay are fantastic places to check out if simplifying your life interest’s you.
Which brings us back to our interest on travel. Our passion. (Cripes, we are starting to repeat ourselves … it this the start of dementia?)
Travel nor the nomadic lifestyle is not for everyone. We respect that.
We too love the creature comforts of a fresh change of clothes versus the same old same old day in and day out; the fragrance of perfume or cologne versus the odour of underarm or smelly socks; a toilet seat versus a squat, balance and hope the wind is blowing in the right direction! Nonetheless, we love that too.
What matters most is to do what you love and, love what you do.
Ours is to adventure travel.
While we still have our marbles!
Hence and in conclusion, adventure before dementia.
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.
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.
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.
“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!