On Waitangi Weekend (which now feels like a lifetime ago!) M and I decided to head up north to climb Mt Owen. It was raining when we left home on Thursday night and the rain just got heavier and heavier so once we reached our campsite for the night (Deer Valley just below the Lewis Pass) putting up a tent didn't seem like such a pleasant idea. Plus it was getting pretty late by this point so we ended up sleeping in the car. We woke up to a super cold but beautiful morning. Snow had fallen on the mountains above us and it was pretty magical.
We arrived at the start of the track around lunchtime and began the big ascent up to Granity Pass Hut. You climb up and up through steep beech forest for several hours before reaching the tree line. Then you scramble down what's called the staircase which is a rather steep descent back through the bush before walking along a dry riverbed up to the hut.
The hut was pretty full when we got there but there were still some bunks free. Not long after we'd cooked up some dinner though (Absolute Wilderness Mushroom Risotto for the win!) more people arrived! Clearly it was the place to be!
The next morning dawned truly spectacular - a perfect day for climbing Mt Owen. I've been here before, many years ago (at the start of the millennium in fact!) but we never actually climbed to the summit so I was pretty excited. It's a fairly easy track to the tarns at the base of the mountain then some rock scrambling which freaked me out (think deep crevasses, but in rock form - there is a huge cave network underneath the mountain) and then the final steep climb up to the top.
There was still a bit of snow on the top but nothing too serious and the view was just amazing. For any of you Lord of the Rings fans out there, Mt Owen was the location for Dimrill Dale when the fellowship emerge from the Mines of Moria. It really does look exactly as it does in the movie. Pretty cool!
Once we got back down to the hut we decided to pitch our tent under a rock outcrop in the valley nearby. It was an awesome spot for such a calm, clear night. I couldn't resist running back up to the tarns in the afternoon after we'd set up camp for the night. It is just too spectacular a location.
It's a bit of a long drive back to Christchurch so we got started pretty early the next morning in more glorious sunshine. I really didn't want to leave.
The descent back to the car was pretty long and painful on the knees. I much prefer going uphill! Still, at least you had a glorious view over the mountains of the Kahurangi National Park.
I intend to come back again, hopefully soon. Perhaps next time we could climb up from the other side. I have lived in this country all my life but it still amazes me just how beautiful it is.
Oh, and one more picture just because I miss M's awesome beard!
Since returning from our cycling trip we've been enjoying the beautiful summer weather. I don't remember such a spectular summer in a long time! We clearly weren't sick of biking since 2 days after getting home we were back up in the hills with a couple of friends checking out the newly re-opened road (well, opened to bikes and pedestrians which is awesome!) around Mt Pleasant. Super exciting! It's a bit bumpy for speedy road cycling but it's now officially open and that's the main thing.
There was also a solo excursion up to Trig M from the bottom of Porters Pass while M and his friend were riding the Darfield to Arthur's Pass race. SO hot! One day it would be cool to take the mountain bikes up here although a bit of a grunt. It was hard enough work running/shuffling! From the trig you have a glorious view over Lake Lyndon and towards Craigieburn.
The following day, we headed up towards Mt Aicken, getting most of the way up before deciding to turn back 'cause I wasn't having the best of days up there in amongst all the rock (it is pretty cool how much the vegetation changes from various different beech to scrub to tussock to nothing but rock and scree). The views were spectacular though.
My brother also came down to visit for a little while in the summer for some wind surfing. We took him to Okains Bay for a night and camped amongst the trees. Awesome! Then, after spending the morning splashing around in the water and attempting to steer the paddleboard against the current (way too much hard work for very little progress!) we headed to Akaroa for delicious sorbet.
There was an excursion to Auckland and our beach house for my lovely cousin's wedding somewhere sandwiched between but I don't have any photos of that! It was awesome though! Amongst all this we've been getting in our training for Le Race which is coming up in a week and a half and I've been trying (and slowly succeeding) to get back into running in time for a couple of races coming up. After all the riding we've been doing this summer though it's been hard work!
We also went on an exciting adventure to Mt Owen for Waitangi weekend but that's a story for next time!
On a recent trip down South we decided to head up to Kaikoura to go for a bit of a tramp and see some sights with a couple of friends. We originally planned to walk from the Mt Fyffe carpark up the river to the Kowhai hut for the night then over the saddle and down to the Hapuku carpark at the other end.
Tim had uni until 1pm (which seemed ridiculous to me...whoever heard of uni on a Saturday!) so we didn't leave Christchurch until the afternoon and didn't get to Kaikoura until after 4pm. That meant by the time we actually got the cars sorted and got going it was after 5pm. Luckily we came prepared with headlights!
Most of the route to the hut was up a river which was tedious and cold (freezing!). I was in gloves and a hat pretty early on too as once we lost the sun we also lost all heat. Then once off the river it got dark and we had to get out the lights. By the time we got to the hut it was about 8:15 and there were no more bunks so we ended up on the floor. But at least it was nice and warm inside! I can't say that any of us got much sleep though (especially when the hunters got up at some early hour and didn't make any attempt to be quiet).
The following morning was beautiful...but cold! But not long into the day I was already tired of the river bashing and a bit grumpy so Michael and I decided we'd abandon the others and go climb a mountain instead so we turned back and wandered back through the bush we'd walked through in the dark the night before. It was very pretty now that it was daylight!
At the edge of the track, where it joins the river to head back to the carpark there was another track leading up the Spaniard Spur to the Mt Fyffe Hut. Now I may not be great at rivers (although we set a goal of getting me confident running the coast to coast run section by midsummer next year) but I am damn good at climbing up!
The spur track is narrow and very steep. You will gain over 800 metres of height in, well, not long at all. Quite scary when you look down but fun!
Mt Fyffe Hut! Pity we didn't have time to go to the top of Mt Fyffe. I want to come back and do that next time
Looking down to Kaikoura
Unfortunately when you go up you have to go back down which is not nearly as fun. The track down was an old gravel road and kind of unexciting. It kind of went on and on and we were wishing for a gondola at this point! It definitely took longer to go down than it did to go up which just seems wrong on some level.
So all and all a bit of an up and down trip but we had beautiful weather, the scenery was lovely and the company was awesome.
I'm off home again tomorrow but I've been chilling down in Christchurch for the summer and in amongst working and surviving aftershocks I've been out and about exploring. Now Christchurch itself is basically flat...flat as a pancake...except for the Port Hills which are anything but flat. I hate flat so fortunately Michael lives pretty close to the hills.
We've been riding up Mt Pleasant in thick mist where you could only see a few metres in front of you. We've cruised up Evans Pass and along to Godley Head with a lovely (haha) headwind all the way up.
We've ridden out to Halswell Quarry. We've raced out to Sumner several times (with a couple of dips in the ocean for good measure). I ventured out on my own up to the Sign of the Kiwi (and didn't even get lost for once!).
We've watched the men's New Zealand Road Cycling Champs and see local boy, Hayden Roulston, blitz the field. Oh, and seen them come tearing so fast down Hackthorne road that it was scary!
We've also been running up in the Port Hills via several different tracks. We've jogged along the river. We've run in circles round the park (oh intervals, how I dread thee). We've run a 5km race at Hagley Park.
Top of Mt Vernon, oh yeah!
Then we've run up and around the Port Hills a bit more for good measure (and battled strong headwinds and long grass to get to the top).
We've been climbing several times at The Roxx, even giving some bouldering a go for something a bit different.
We've even managed to escape from Christchurch in between work and head out towards Arthurs Pass, exploring the hills around Craigieburn, this time without the snow unlike in TWALK (but there was an awful lot of wind...threatening to blow me off the hillsides).
We spent the night camping amongst the trees in the rain at Mt White.
Then run through the bush the following day to the Hallelujah Flats (up up up then down down down) and bashed back down through the river (which was freezing cold).
Canterbury, you've been awesome and I can't wait to come back! Oh wait, I will be back next weekend...awesome :)
We did see a lot of machine guns, but at least we didn't see any severed heads.
- I'm not eating any of that foreign muck by Brian Thacker
...otherwise known as Friday in Christchurch.
If you're going to be out traipsing across the hills all day then you're going to need a big, hearty breakfast. This is where my epic porridge comes in...for the 2 of us I used 1 cup of wholegrain oats, 1 cup rice milk and 1 cup water. About halfway through cooking I added 2 heaped tablespoons of peanut butter, 2 sliced bananas and some frozen berries. Topped with golden syrup this was absolutely perfect (as we huddled next to the fire)!
So after breakfast and much debate over where we were going to go, we headed off to tackle as much of the Crater Rim Walkway that we could before it got dark (we should have got up earlier in hindsight but holidays are for sleeping in right?). The below photo is looking down into Lyttleton Harbour from the Port Hills.
Along the way you encounter various gun emplacements and what we could only assume were once bomb shelters or something similar. The artwork on some of these was really quite fascinating...
Are you worthy of notice, observation or consideration?
We live in a free country where you are free to do nothing
B thought he'd bring his gas cooker along so lunch was really quite civilised. That morning I'd fried up some cubes of tofu and we just added that to a packet soup (Naked Organics Thai Coconut Curry).
Ah, a hot lunch...just perfect for a beautiful, but freezing day on the hills.
This was our turnaround point since we didn't really feel like wandering in the dark. As it was, we got back with enough time but the sky was definitely well on its way to darkening.
I'm not much of a walker so I was feeling rather stiff by the end and was quite glad to curl up in the car on the way home again (it's ironic really...I could run that track and probably feel fine but when it comes to walking I just get tired!).
We were pretty hungry by then so dinner was definitely in order. We were joined by B's friend M and thought we'd check out somewhere we hadn't been before, the Welcome Chinese Vegetarian Cafe.
As a starter for everyone we ordered the Crispy Savoury Cheeky Nuggets simply because it is such an awesome name!
We each got to pick a main dish that we would all share and I ended up choosing the Hotplate Sambal Lemon Eggplant Tofu.
M ordered this dish but I actually can't remember what it was. My main memory was that it was quite spicy but delicious.
B ordered us the Crispy Sesame BBQ Fried Rice on Hotplate which is described as BBQ Sesame sauce over Crispy protein with Nori and fried rice. Let's just say that to me that description sounds highly unappetising but it turned out to be my favourite of all the dishes. The 'crispy protein with nori' was absolutely delicious and I should have taken a cutaway photo of it 'cause it looked so cool.
Dessert is, of course, very important and I got some vegan ice cream because, well, it was on the menu and that in itself is pretty exciting.
We also got some red bean pastries to share because I love red bean. I was kind of hoping for something like the red bean pancakes I get in Auckland but it was not to be. These were still pretty good though.
Dinner (we'll definitely be coming back to this restaurant) and company was nice and all but I was quite happy to get back to B's flat and sit in front of the fire with a nice cup of tea. I'm such a nana!