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A weekend rockclimbing

December 18, 2011

Wye Creek in the sun (grade 15, can't remember name) froze fingers on 'The Mission' in the shade

Had a great weekend away – climbed at Wye Creek on Saturday and at Kingston on Sunday. Plus went out for a posh dinner at the Wakatipu Grill, which was top rate. First time at the Kingston crag. Lovely spot with some unique ambience – hearing the Kingston Flyer tooting before it leaves the station. Bit sore and rusty and had to take it quite easy with my crook back so we didn’t do any multi-pitch routes as a hanging belay wasn’t the best for it. Has us itching to do more climbing now!

Greg at Kingston

Wye Creek


Studies finished

December 14, 2011

Time to relax and enjoy summer

Well, it’s been a long time between blogs but now that I’ve finished my 83,000 word thesis I should be posting a bit more regularly. I found that I couldn’t justify writing this blog when I should have been working on my thesis. There are so many ways of procrastinating I had to put some limits on it!

Now it’s done – still can’t quite believe it – in the new year I’ll be looking for a job or freelance writing, and also see if I can find a way to get my manuscript Beyond Comfort published. My book is about adventure ideas and my own take on adventuring through a variety of trips and talking to people passionate about their outdoor activities. At some stage I might get round to posting some excerpts from it here.

For now, we’ve been enjoying some great weather in Southland and getting to the beach frequently with the kids. And Greg and I are even getting away for a night this weekend to ourselves. We have lots of options -surfing, rock-climbing, some light mountaineering or taking our dinghy out somewhere in Fiordland – though limited by time,  weather and, I have to admit, fitness. I think rock-climbing near Queenstown is looking the most popular at this stage, and I’m also quite favourable on the idea of treating ourselves in Queenstown.


Camping at Monkey Island

September 22, 2011

Harrison at Monkey Island

It’s been ages since I’ve written a blog. I’ve been working on my book/thesis instead and feel like I’m making decent progress at last. That’s just as well as I’ve only got a few months left on it.

Here’s a shot from a camping trip to Monkey Island a few weekends ago. This is near Orepuki, past Riverton and about 25minute from Tuatapere. It’s a great place. Really remote, a beautiful beach and good camping spots. But it’s cold, almost all the time, from what I can gather.

Walking along the beach, I couldn’t believe all the plastic I could see being washed up in the tideline. My photo is just from collecting pieces (thinking of making a necklace, magpie that I am) along a short stretch of beach.

plastic pieces I picked up

How crazy is that, and I didn’t even touch any of the tiny plastic fragments. Kind of depressing to think how we are stuffing up our water from all different directions.

We were only there one night in the end. The next morning it started raining at 8am and kept going. The weather forecast didn’t look like it was going to get any better so we packed up at 2pm and were home by 3pm.

Holiday in the sun over, back to winter

August 9, 2011

We got back from Hawaii last week. Such a shame holidays have to end. Back to work, reality and cold. Thankfully it was quite mild and sunny the first few days back but the last few days have been stormy, wet, and sleety – we were woken at 3.30am with the house shaking with thunder and lightening.

May as well embrace the weather eh, so we went for a little outing today to get to some snow (predicted to sea-leve but didn’t make it). We drove up forestry roads up Bald Hill in the Longwoods until we started sliding in the snow. We put chains on and went a few more kms until the road got too rough and steep for the Toyota.

Suited the kids up in their snow suits and put them into the sled (two-old skies, a wooden frame on top and then an old plastic container – on it’s second season) and Greg dragged them up the hill. Harrison walked a fair bit in ski boots. Syliva started to lose it with cold hands and feet and it started snowing heavily so we beat a quick retreat. A good two-hour walk, making the most of the snow.

Stand-up paddle boarding in Hawaii

July 29, 2011

I had the good fortune early this week to interview top stand-up paddle boarder Jenny Kalmbach, who lives in Kona. Since she took up the sport 5 years ago, after moving to Hawaii, she has won a bunch of competitions including  the renowned 32-mile Molokai to Oahu race and is considered one of the rising stars of this emerging (although revived from early Hawaiin times) sport.

I spoke with her about a remarkable adventure she did last year with fellow paddle-boarder Morgan Hoesterey. They paddled across the 9 major channels in Hawaii over a month including the toughest crossing from Oahu to Kauai (82 miles). Their aim was also to raise money and awareness for plastic contamination in the ocean and a film was subsequently made about their adventure.  Earlier this year they also paddle-boarded in Costa Rica, where Jenny grew up. She was an inspiring athlete to interview and I was curious to try stand-up paddle boarding for myself.

Me trying out paddle-boarding at Kona

So I rented a board at the beach in Kona. I was a bit apprehensive that my back couldn’t handle it though was reassured by the rental woman that it had improved her back problems and she now had the toughest abs ever (my back was sore the next day). I started off in a calm little inlet and it was easy to stand up, though it felt a bit more wobbly than I thought it would be (probably having watched people do it who are experienced and make it look easy).

When I headed out into the harbour there was a slight swell and the next thing I know I’ve fallen off in the water. Totally unexpected. I clamber back up and keep going, aiming to keep my knees bent, tummy tucked in and straight back. I lose my balance and fall off at least three or four more times but by the end I feel a lot more stable than I did to start with. I also got the slight rush feeling of the swell picking the board up and riding it – though obviously nothing compared to what Jenny was saying about gliding along on large ocean swells.

You can get a heap of speed up on a paddle-board once you get into it and I realise why it is such a great mode of transport, a good way to keep fit, and has also become popular for surfing waves, where you can pick up waves far easier than shorter boards. In New Zealand I’ve started to see a few stand-up paddle boarders, or SUP boarders, in the last few years but nothing compared to Hawaii and other parts of the States where it is super popular. Jenny told me the sport has really taken off in the last few years and hundreds of people now enter competitions – there are even hopes it may one day be an Olympic sport.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park photos

July 28, 2011

Halem'uma'u Crater

We spent the day visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park yesterday – a bit of a long day in the car from Kailua-Kona but well worth the trek. A stunning landscape, again a contrast from lush jungle to old volcanic lava flows, which have created strange and wonderful rock formations.

Kilauea Iki Crater

Thurston Lava Tube, a long cave formed by lava flows

A mission to Captain Cook Monument, Hawaii

July 26, 2011

Captain Cook monument

We were probably a bit over optimistic about our abilities today. We decided to have an ‘easy day’ and go to the monument marking where Captain Cook clashed with the Hawaiins and was stabbed.

There is no road to Kealakekua Bay. Most people take a boat or kayak and snorkel in the renowned fish reserve. There’s a good reason for this we found out. We decided to walk the 2 and a half mile track there, which a blog I read told me would take about one to one and a half hours. The start of the track was not signed but I had a detailed description of where it started by a particular avocado tree and powerpole.

It was a long hot track, with volcano rubble underfoot meaning the going wasn’t easy, especially for small feet. That saying ‘only mad dogs and English men’ was ringing in my ears. The sea looked far away. Sylvia -all 16kg of her- refused to walk and had to be carried all the way down, mostly on Greg’s shoulders. Harrison did a steller job and walked all the way, with a bit of cajoling and several rests. We were relieved to get to the monument (after an hour and 20 mins) and were not looking forward to the return trip in the hot afternoon sun.

The bay itself was beautiful, despite being crowded with half a dozen boats and loads of kayakers. The water was incredibly clear and there were hundreds of brightly coloured fish I’d never seen before. We had a leisurely play and the kids had paddle. 

After lunch it was time for the long trek back. It was searing hot and Harrison wilted quickly. Sylvia had already taken up prime position on Greg’s shoulders.

So Harrison piggybacked on me, with a wet towel wrapped around us, strapping him in place. Can’t say it was the best thing for my back  but we had to get out of the steepest hottest part as soon as possible. By now I’m cursing our decision to walk, thinking why do we have to do things the hardest way. We took many rests where we could find some shade. I carried Sylvia for a bit, and thankfully Harrison walked the last half mile. It felt like quite an achievement – tomorrow we are definitely taking it easy.