Friday, March 27, 2009

West Coast

The west coast is full of rough beaches and mountains. We've moved into the higher mountains now, called the Southern Alps with a few glaciers to check out. Pretty sweet stuff, but not as cool as the pancake rocks, sandstone rocks that have a pancake look to them. Well not really, more so to a 5 year old, but they're amazing, standing apart out in the water, with natural bridges and blowholes in them. Very cool, and yet they sadly got a childish name.

The towns on the west coast aren't all that hot, meaning there's not much to do. It was a big gold and coal mining area, which has died down leaving just a few good breweries to hit up, plus some boring mining hikes.

Tomorrow we're off to hike the Copland track, an overnight hike that heads up towards Mt Cook, the hightest mountain in NZ, hitting a high elevation with hot pools by the hut. Shouldn't reach the snow, but should be cold. With good weather, the pictures will be good.

After 2 days of glaciers, Franz Josef and Fox, the weather feels colder. But that didn't stop us from going to the beach this afternoon at a rough and rocky beach. Pretty crazy out there, with rocks being whipped at you in the water, but still a good time.

Hope everyone is having a grand old weekend.

Monday, March 23, 2009

South Island Photos

Got a few photos for you guys to look at of the adventures as we get closer to antarctica and the weather gets colder, but still remains sunny

Apples galore

If you've got a cold morning, apple picking is a great remedy for warmth

How 'bout dem apples?

Check out the size of those bins

My career as an apple picker ended almost as soon as it started. To put it bluntly like the British do, the work is shite. Out there in the hot sun, doing manual labor, standing 8 feet above the ground, wearing a basket holding pounds of apples, gee that sounds like fun. But it was a good time while it lasted. We worked on Friday, getting a good taste of what it would be like. Starting off in the cold morning, in a work group made up entirely of Thais, who kicked ass and made us look super slow. We did the average of 4 bins each, which equates after tax to about 100 dollars for the day. Check out the size of those bins, hundreds of apples in each. About a cubic meter full, which is something big in square or cubic feet.

So we worked the Friday and then had 3 days off. So what do we do? Go exploring another new part of the country, Golden Bay which rocked. Super sunny, with grassy fields on the bottom of a valley surrounded by amazing hills going out to golden, warm beaches. Not too shabby. After attempting to run 10k in the forest by the beach, I hurt my knees and got to be a gimp again, thus ending our illustrious apple picking career. A good, legitimate reason not to work and also why work now in the summer with good weather when I can work it off in Wellington at a job I enjoy with good people around.

So we’re done picking apples, and with about 30 apples from the orchard we are heading down the west coast to gold mining cities and glaciers. The travels continue, a week ahead of schedule, meaning more chilling and enjoying the country.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Abel Tasman

My arch can kick your arches butt

Early morning low tide hike across mud flats, crossing with new friends Lara and Jeff

Refreshing water after a couple hours kayak

How a master kayaker looks

Probably the only time my paddle wasn't going super fast in the water

To put it in easy words, Abel Tasman rocks. The national park in the northwest of the south island, is full of isolated, golden beaches and super clear blue water. It's what most people would consider an island paradise, scattered with islands and amazing shorelines along the coast. Seals and dolphins abound, along with sting rays and fish. From the jungle like mountains surrounding the water, down to the thick glass-like sand, or the smooth white sand, it's pretty amazing.

I spent 3 days there, kayaking for two of them and hiking for another. Camping out, surrounded by the dark starry sky at night, and walking through sea shell scattered beaches in the day. Not a bad way to enjoy pefectly sunny days.

The kayaking was definitely the best part. Stefan and I got suited up in our double kayak and set off exploring some islands first before sticking to the beaches along the coast. Seemed like every 15 minutes we were at another beach. Hardly anyone out there, as the tourist summer season is about over. Lots of lagoons and estuaries along the way, with one leading up to a river, only accesible at high tide. Paddled upstream to a swing bridge up above, where we talked with 2 people we would later see at the campsite and hike with the next day.

It was a great few days and a good way to get over a bit of illness I had after hiking in the Marlborough Sounds. More to come on that later.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Surfing with volcanoes


Typical New Zealand

Perfect beach free of human contact by roads

Today has been amazing, waking up to a wicked sunset from our beach parking lot spot. Then on to climb the volcano (not active they say) with great views all around. On one side you have the city, sticking out on a peninsula that ends with the volcano, beaches on both sides all the way down. The other side you have another beach across the water that has no roads going to it and goes on forever, unblemished by humans (apart from those sneaky kayakers who were out there). On the way down, we passed sheep out in a pasture on another side, which set up a typical NZ photo with sheep, water, beach, green and a volcano. Yup, this is life in Kiwiville.

After hiking the volcano and chilling with fresh watermelon by the beach volleyball court, it was time to rent surfboards and hit the water for a few hours. Great waves, hot sun and perfect surroundings. Good to be out surfing again on a hot summer day.