Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hiking and wine tasting in New Zealand

This weekend I headed out with Stefan, my flatmate and two good friends, Angie and Dave. We rented a car for super cheap with unlimited kilometers and drove off over 100km to the southermost point of the north island to hike and enjoy the country. Good hiking, a sweet lighthouse, a seal colony and some locations where Lord of the Rings were filmed. Pretty amazing views along the drive, with tons of super green hills, sheep and cows everywhere and mountains around us. It should've been a quicker drive, but due to water and mountains, we had to go around to get to where we wanted to go.

The Wairarapa is full of vineyards, hills and small quaint towns. We hit up a couple downs as well as the surrounding area for the hikes. Got in a specialty chocolate shop, with over 50 types of chocolate bars from basil chocolate, to limechili chocoloate to sesame chocolate. Pretty damn good. The vineyards in the city of Martinborough where we camped were especially good. Well-known around NZ and the world, it was fun to try a wide variety of wines, with the Pinot Noir being the best and most famous of the region.

Here are the pics:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tent city

So I got a tent for free from the people who I got my room from. I've got my first camping trip coming up, so we decided to see if the tent had all the pieces and was waterproof.

Elise and Stefan setting it up

Still working on it

The roommates get a new room

Explaining how large the tent will get with the Wellington wind

Stefan's water test. We gotta buy some waterproof tape

Monday, November 10, 2008





Here's a link to photos from my past weekend:

Spent the night in an old train station before heading to the Wanganui River. Jet boated up river to a trailhead to hike to the Bridge to Nowhere, with no roads on either side. It was built in 1935 for the farmers in the area, but soon after, most of the farmers had already left due to lack of income, so the bridge became overrun by the jungle around it. After lunching on the bridge, we got into canoes and headed downstream for 4 hours to the lodge where we were spending the night. On the way we stopped off at all the side streams, waterfalls and caves. Lots of things to check out and plenty to explore. Perfect weather for it. At the lodge, we cooked up some dinner, had s'mores out back and relaxed.

Day two, we awoke to mist surrounding the river, which soon burned off with the sun. Then it was back in the canoes and a 5 hour trip back to our cars. More waterfalls to swim under in super cold water. I lasted the longest in the water, and after was cold as hell, but well worth it. Along the way we spotted a goat on the side of the cliff, all wet and stuck. There was no where for it to go to get back up, so we got it into one of the canoes and took it 200m down river to a flat area to let it off. Saving the day as always. Towards the end we ran into 2 large caves, one on top of a waterfall, and the other one with knee deep mud all the way through. Pretty good stuff to squish around in. That wrapped up the weekend and then we drove the 3 hours back to Wellington, to get ready for the work week.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Island Bay

There's a bunch of hikes from Wellington, most of them in the city limits. Then there's this one to Island Bay, which is not. It's about a 4 mile hike through the hills, off the beaten path and through parks and golf courses, badly marked along the way and with some super steep parts. So a German friend of mine said she was going, and since I had the day free and hadn't been there yet, I went along. Twas a beautiful day, sunny the whole time, a big contrast to the previous day where it hailed and was so windy I had to hold on to a lamp post to not be blown away. That's Wellington for you, you get the worst day and then the best day, back to back.

The hike started in town, nearby the botanical gardens with superb views and then went back through a beltway of parks. Hardly on the streets at all, which was nice, and yet would've been quicker than our route. The route wasn't always marked that well, and when we asked some kids which way to go at a fork, they said that the way we'd come from was the correct way. I knew better than that and chose the right path luckily, down past rugby fields to a golf course. We came out of the forest onto the golf course about 15 feet from a hole and walked down the side of the green, all on our hiking map.

Towards the end, we had to climb up a huge mountain, with the ground turning to loose shale and the incline increasing. But at the top there were some pretty damn fine views and a cool Maori statue that was a couple centuries old. All in all, the hike was awesome, but tiring. And with that, I saw a ton of Wellington and it's surrounding cities, not bad for a 4+ hour hike.

Looking back at Wellington


Gerda and I on the hike

Ancient Maori statue

Looking down at Island Bay