2011-2012 has been an emotional 12 months for us

We became kiwi citizens. Our kids, Ben and Beth survived the Christchurch earthquakes. I lost my mum and brother, Brian, to cancer in the same week. We sold our outdoor activity business in Hanmer Springs that we had run for ten years. We ran the Forest Camp as managers and we will celebrate 30 years of marriage.

It has been a time of intense emotions and hard work but a great network of friends and family has supported us.

Losing Brian at the age of 60 has convinced me that we have to “live life for today”. With that in mind Steve and I have decided that the best way to celebrate surviving, being kiwis and the “life of Brian” is to walk the length of New Zealand. Now here is the irony, Brian would be convinced that we are finally, totally and unreservedly barking mad!

Thanks to Ben and Beth for their support to let us go, to Sharon and Serge our Hanmer backstops and to Shalane for inspiration.

Follow us on our journey – meet us on the way with tea and scones, walk a section with us, join us for a beer or just support our cause and donate to Cancer research!

Feel free to add comments to our blog below, just click on "comments" below the blog entry and write in the box then add your name or be anonymous!!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Waiau Pass

The Nelson Lakes and Waiau Pass have been on our list for a long time and living in Hanmer Springs it really was a walk in our backyard but a trip we have never made.
St Arnaud was a welcome break for us after the Richmond Hills and we started again with the walk beside Lake Rotoiti - it was just stunning. We have been so lucky with the weather, the forecast was for showers and strong winds but they just never arrived. The trail up to the John Tait Hut is a very gradual ascent and all the time you are surrounded with majestic mountains, then up past the Travers Waterfall to the Upper Travers Hut. This had to be on of the top ten tracks so far!!

Lake Constance
From here we climbed steeply over the Travers saddle and very steeply down to the West Sabine Hut over a rocky saddle and through a stunning gorge. Then the climb up to the Blue Lake Hut by the side of the roaring alpine stream, not surprisingly the hut was almost full as it is just a breathtaking place to be in the mountains. The lake is the purest source of  freshwater in the world.
We climbed the next morning up past Lake Constance to the foot of the Waiau Pass. Not a cloud in the sky, how privileged were we. A hard climb to the top revealed the valleys below and the most wonderful views for 360 degrees. That was the easy bit !! The descent is steep but not too technical, just a good head for heights needed and bionic knees !!!

Looking up the Lake Constance Valley.  Waiau Pass up on the left above the steep shingle.

We made it down to the Waiau Forks and made slow progress down the valley over boulder fields and slips to the Caroline Bivi. Not my idea of a great place to stay on Valentine's Day - so we slept in our tent, which was very cosy and tried not to share it with the clouds of sandflies outside.
Ann Hut
The next day was a big challenge too as we had 30 kms to walk on very tired legs, but the scenery was so uplifting that it did not seem so bad. We joined the St James Walkway, now on familiar territory and arrived at the 5 star Ann Hut. A new hut to replace the one that burned down, it was splendid.

The penultimate day was a walk to the Boyle Flats Hut over the Ann Saddle , a mere pimple compared to the Waiau Pass. A great fianl night with John and Melanie before the final walk out to the Boyle Village.
Thanks to Wendy and her staff for the warm welcome with tea and scones - bliss. Also thanks to Jim for the ride back to Hanmer in the Rusty Carrot Van. The end of an awesome 7 day crossing and back to the Hot Pools and our own bed - yea ha.

We have now walked over 2000 kilometers and raised over $4,800 for Cancer Research. If you would like to donate to our charity please click on this link.       Donate Now to Cancer Research.

Off through Arthurs Pass next and on to Lake Coleridge and then Tekapo. Planning the walk is as big a challenge as the walk itself, we need to send food parcels and maps onto the next resupply point and predict roughly how long it will take us. Although it is hard to give definite dates if you are keen to walk with us or help us along the way, please contact us. We hope to be in Tekapo around the 15th March.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Alpine Crossing of the Richmond Ranges


The easy track of the Queen Charlotte was well behind us and the next stage of our journey took us through the Richmond Ranges and we had it all !! - a heatwave, torrential rain, snow, scree slopes, gorges, boulder fields, gullies, tussocks, mountains, awesome huts, great company and amazing views.
Snow on the tops!!!

We girded our loins and set off at the crack of dawn, with the  daunting thought of 10 days in the hills and heavy packs, up the Pelorous River, past the very inviting Emerald Pool to the Captains Creek Hut, having two wonderful swims on the way. Even with our heavy packs we were doing DOC time so that was encouraging - little did we know what lay in store!! The weather heated up and we got up earlier to walk in the cool of the day but the heat  could not be avoided so lots more swims were called for. The tracks were challenging sidling over tree roots and rocks and we felt as if we had really slowed down.
The next section was awesome, we broke out of the bush and were walking on ridges and the tops, up to Mt Starveall and on to Slaty Hut - a 10 hour day. From here we had a great walk over the Old Man (appropriately named), and down to the Old Man Hut. 

Old Man Hut !!!
Then the weather broke and we had 24hrs of heavy rain , we sat tight in the hut and were joined by John again and Melanie from France. A day in the hut to talk of all our experiences along the way and eat as little as possible as we were taking an extra day for the crossing. 
When the cloud cleared the next day the mountains were sprinkled with snow!!! But as soon as the sun came out it started to melt and we were off up Mt Rintoul the crux of the crossing. We had a challenging day crossing the scree slopes and descending the gullies and climbing to 1760metres.The views were breathtaking all the way to the Abel Tasman and Nelson Bay.

Scrambling down off Mt Rintoul.
 The route then crosses over Purple Top and down to the valley of the Wairoa river. A challenging route up the gorge kept us on our toes and we also had to deal with lots of wasps, which liked me but not Steve!!.Then over the tops past Mt Ellis and down to the valley again. A 12 hour day and a great sleep.

The Red Hills were the next challenge and we weaved our way up and down the boulder field and valleys dissecting the mountains. It was almost like a lunar landscape in places.

The final two days were a wonderful end to the challenge, staying at Hunters and Porters Huts ( a restored Forestry Service hut) and "undulating" tracks led through the hills with great sidling tracks ending at the Red Hills hut before plunging down to the valley and a 10 mile road walk to St Arnaud.

A restored Forestry Service hut at Porters Creek.

So we have completed 1930 Kms over 96 days of walking and raised $4,600.
Looking forward to the Nelson Lakes next and ending up in Hanmer for a couple of days 17th - 20th Feb and taking Beth to Dunedin for the start of her term at Otago.