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!!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

We made it to Bluff!!!!

We have walked over 3,000 kilometers  to get here, what an amazing journey and an awesome adventure. New Zealand is such a stunning country and we feel privileged to have been able to walk its length on the Te Araroa Trail.

We made it!!!

Sick of vegetarian food!!

We walked from Colac Bay to Riverton, a beautiful harbour village full of character and charm, then on to Oreti beach, the famous beach where Burt Munro tested his fastest indian !! The forecast was for a rainy day but we had the most beautiful day out of nowhere. We had fantastic views of Stewart Island and Bluff in the distance.

The beach was full of amazing pebbles and strange seaweed (Steve was tempted to try it as he is getting over the dehydrated vegetarian pasta dish.

We felt as if we had come full circle (metaphorically, as it was really a straight line !!) back to a long sweeping beach just like Ninety Mile Beach and it felt very special to be there. The tides were just right for us and our last river crossing of the trip was just a splodge.

Last river crossing. Stewart Island in the distance.

Finally we reached the access road and civilisation - cars on the beach, dog walkers and surfers. Steve celebrated with a quick dip in the Southern Ocean with the emphasis on quick. We the headed inland towards Invercargill.

We had a great day in the city and met the Mayor, Tim Shadbolt, as we were probably the slowest couple to have walked the Te Araroa and he had met the fastest guy. The weather was not kind that day but it did not seem to matter.

Spot the mayor.

Lounging around.

So off on the final sections down by the estuary to the long road walk to Ocean Beach. There are plans to create a walkway all the way to Bluff but the project needs funding.
There was a great boardwalk section and a wonderful bench that Steve made full use of.

The welcoming party.

We saved the last 7.2 Kms for our last day so that we would not look totally exhausted for the photos at the end , but more importantly so that Beth could join us and Dave and Kirsty could be there with us. It was overwhelming to be met by the gang at the signpost and so special, thanks guys!!

Our journey along the Te Araraoa has been a celebration for us of two wonderful people, my Mum Elsie and my brother Brian and they have been with us in our hearts. We have raised over $6,000 for Cancer Research thanks to the generosity of all you guys out there that have read the blog and kept us going.

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and hospitality of all the people that have helped us along the way. The Te Araroa  has also been a personal challenge to us both as well and I am amazed at what it is possible to achieve when you put your mind to it. So our message to you all is to live life to the full, follow your dreams and come and stay with us!

Lynne and Steve

If you would like to add a donation to our cause click on this link   Donate now

PS there will be one more blog of the out takes, funny stories and a slide show so stay tuned !


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

A sniff of the ocean !!

Well we have made it to the Ocean having walked from Colac Bay to Riverton today and yes the weather has turned a little dodgy. Well 5 days of rain forecast at the moment but we can't complain and everyone else is very happy. It had to rain sometime!! Lets retrace our steps a few weeks........

We have made it to the Southern Ocean.

From Queenstown we joined the Greenstone Track which was absolute bliss and we had a great night in the Greenstone Hut which ended up being very busy with all but 1 bed spare. So many trampers. It was lovely to socialise and thank god for ear plugs!
We soon were on our own again when we headed south down the Upper Mavora valley passing through the Taipo and Boundary Huts before staying in Careys hut which is magnificently located on the shores of the North Mavora Lake. We thought Boundary Hut could be called that as it was possibly the border of Otago and Southland?

Mavora lakes
In Careys Hut this was my moment to try the Back Country Mouse Trap explained to me by that wily old kiwi backcountry man and mouse killer Bill Clarkson.

My three tailer.
So you fill a large bucket with water. Place it underneath the neck of a wine bottle which is balanced on a table or chair. In the end of the bottle place a bit of cheese about 2cms down the neck. Vigorously smother the end of the bottle with something very slippy like cooking oil or similar. So all set. Mouse smells the cheese, mouse skips along bottle very inquisitive, mouse just can't resist going out along neck of bottle .......just wait for the splash. Yee ha. I caught 3 mice that night. I never thought I would turn into a hunter but this trip certainly has been a life changer!!. There is something very satisfying about hearing another plop in the wee small hours. Man versus Nature? So much for 10 pointers I had a 3 tailer.

Bacon sizzling in the pan, luxury!!!

Down the beautiful Movora Valley to be met by Dave, Kirsty, Crockett the dog and our Camper Van. We had 2 lovely frosty nights camped here with the gang. It was great being supported by these guys which allowed us to pack in some big days with light packs. On our first night with them Kirstys friend Rachel showed up and dished up a wonderful Spag Bol and gave me lots of meat as she thought I was turning into a vegetarian. Great nights, great company and many memories. Dave's cooking skills proved much better than his fishing skills - bacon butties yum yum.
After a quick dash to Te Anau for a weather update and resupply Dave and Kirsty dropped us at the start of the Lower Princhester Track which is the start of the traverse of the Takitimus. We did get chance to sample a pie in Te Anau. Yummy.

Takitimus are pretty special as well and we stayed at the Aparima and Lower Wairaki Huts. The night we were in the Lower Wairaki Hut it pelted it down with rain for most of the night however by morning it had eased off but this was the signal that things were about to change meteorologically!!
Just want to mention two very interesting near misses. I took a face plant in a river when a rock I stood on completely flipped and I went completely under head to toe. Miraculously no injuries!! Lynne took a tumble and face planted a bed of moss and lay motionless for what seemed an age as her hands were under her and her pack holding her down. Lynne not so lucky as me and twisted her ankle but managed to hobble on. I keep her going with a cattle prod. No seriously she has been a real trooper and soldiered on.
You eventually pop out of the Takitimus at Mt Linton Station followed by 12k walk on a magnificent 4wd track through this wonderful high country station and past the Rock Hut, and a memorial to a guy called Duggie who worked at the station for 40 years as a digger driver and musterer.

Looking back at the Takitimus.
We stayed in Ohai in the old Pub which was closed as a pub but the family took in Te Araroa trampers as there is no where else in the village to stay. What a backwater Ohai is. Property is certainly cheap but sad to see all the mines shut bar a few. We rested up there for a day. That particular day most of the village were attending a funeral which started at 10am. By 12 everyone seemed to be in the Fire Brigade HQ drinking and stayed there most of the day.
At Ohai and for the first time on the whole trip we were staring down the barrel of a pretty miserable forecast so we made the big call to stay off the tops in the Longwood Forest section and walk the backroads to Colac Bay. We are very glad we did as the bad weather has set in and we are over the moon now to be by the sea. We have been dreaming about this and are really looking forward to next few days especially tomorrow with our 27k walk along Oreti Beach and hopefully as well as the roar of the ocean we might hear the roar of Burt Munroes Fastest Indian. Thanks once again to Dave and Kirsty for moving our van on to Colac.

Too cold to surf !!
We hope to be in Bluff on Sunday. Yabba Dabba Doo! We just can't believe we are here and we are going to make it. Not sure we want it to end.
Thanks to everyone that has helped and contributed to our journey and fundraiser. $5600 at the moment. Would love to get it up to $6000 if we can.
The next Blogupdate will be the biggie. Keep your fingers crossed.

To donate now to Cancer Research click on this link ..... Donate to Cancer Research.


Steve and Lynne

Monday, 1 April 2013

Tekapo to Queenstown

We had some relief from the trials of tramping -  because the canals were closed for maintainence we decided to get on bikes and do the 50K road walk to Twizel.  There is a great new cycle path in this area that runs from Mt Cook village to Oamaru. So we had two great days on bikes cycling this new track to Ohau Lodge. Now the fact that we got there on March the 19th Lynne's birthday was either extremely good fortune on her behalf or very good strategic planning by the head of logistics... Lynne. The staff at Ohau Lodge were fantastic and not only did they make Lynne a birthday chocolate cake but they donated the accommodation costs to Cancer Research. This once again was a real treat for us and a very humbling experience.

From Ohau Lodge the Te Araroa heads up and over the Ohau range via Freehold Creek and the East Ahuriri Valley. This part of the tramp did present us with probably the roughest part of the tramp so far... As the decent down the East Ahiriri Valley, although poled has no trail on the ground. It's basically find your own way through the tussocks, spaniards and matagouri and plodge down the river when in doubt.
Home sweet home.
We camped this night in a stunning location, no sandflys and a full moon. An early start the next day saw us walking out into the magnificent Ahuiri Valley. If you have not been to this valley, you must visit it as we were blown away by the magnificent scenery. We had a major river crossing here of the Ahuriri river, however due to this stunning summer weather it never got above our knees. Couldn't imagine it in normal conditions.

Stodys Hut...with a romantic fire!!

From here, we continued our journey on an amazing 4 wheel drive track which climbed up and over Martha's saddle at 1710 metres and dropped us down all the way to the Top Timaru hut. These old musterers roads are an amazing feet of engineering and gritty determination. We stayed at the brand new top Timaru hut at this stage where we teamed up with Phil and Clare a young couple doing the Te Araroa as well. We had met them before on the trail when they had overtaken us the first time, however they had taken a break to watch the English cricket team in Dunedin for the first test match and had overtaken us for the second time!! The walk or should I say river adventure from the top Timaru hut to Stodys hut is not for the faint hearted once again we were thankful for the drought conditions as we had to cross the Timaru creek at least 14 times in pretty gnarly country. Unlike top Timaru hut Stodeys hut was a classic old musterers hut that had not changed in many many years, and as a result was overrun with little furry friends who visited us in the night. The huge positive of this hut was the beautiful open fire which we had roaring very atmospheric and a great place to stay.

Next day, on to another 4 wheel drive track and the Lake Hawea station famous for its Merino sheep and a quick blast around Breast hill to the new Pakituhi hut with fantastic views over Mt Aspiring and Lake Hawea. The hut is perched just below a ridge line which you climb up to and plunge down 980 vertical metres to the Lake Hawea shore line. A knee trembler if ever there was one. It was so lovely on this decent to be met by Bill Clarkson, it was great to see him out on the hill with his musterers stick! He also told us that 50 years previous he had been mustering the Timaru Creek area... What a boy!!

Bill Clarkson on the Breast Hill Track.

Although in previous blogs we have have mentioned that the water in the Pelorus river was the clearest and then the Blue Lake, Lake Hawea and it's crystal clear waters proved so tempting that Lynne and I went in for a swim on two successive days. It was also wonderful to dive into Lake Wakitipu with Beth and it must have been 10 degrees warmer than Lake Hawea but not as clear.
We have spent the last few days walking from Lake Hawea to Queenstown wharf doing all the flat easy bits and are just about to go back and do the Motatapu's which we didn't want to do over the busy Easter period. It has also been fantastic to have Beth with us carrying our pack !! and enabling us to do some long easy days on the flat. Beth is on an Easter break from Otago University and she is hoping to join us again perhaps for the last to days into Bluff in search of glory.

Beth and Steve on the Historic Shotover Bridge.
It has also been wonderful to stay with Dave Felstead, Kirsty and Ritchie Hunter and their awesome dog Crockett (Davie and Crockett). So onto the last leg of the walk and The Greenstone and Mavora Lakes. There is a rumour among the Te Araroa walkers that the best pies in NZ are to be found in Te Anau. Our next big decision is do we divert to Te Anau to sample the pies????

Dave, Crocket, Richie and Beth on the trail !!!

Really getting close to the finish line now and hoping that this glorious weather will last but we really can't complain if it doesn't. Many of our friends that we have met on the trail and have overtaken us are all finishing in the next few days and will hopefully will come to find us on their journeys back north!!
We have raised over $5,200 now for Cancer Research. If you feel like donating please click on the link to the donation site.

 Many thanks.    Donate now to Cancer Research.