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7 2017 Feb

Tongariro Crossing – Jan 2017

What a perfect day we had for this adventure!  We certainly appreciated that fact when we found out that the day before had been unfavourable conditions and as it turned out, the day after was thick with fog!

We headed off from Auckland on a very hot, sunny afternoon and drove via Tirau to pick up the 4th member of our group.  Just a small group but the van was full of our chatter!

Walking in to the local pub with Mt Ruapehu to our left.

We arrived at our very comfortable, self-contained, holiday house and settled in before heading off to the local pub for dinner.  It was pretty much full of other trampers with very few kiwi accents that we could hear.  This was to be our experience on the crossing too, loads of other trampers and all seeming to be from different countries (and all much younger!) We all had an early night so that we could be up early and ready for our 6.45am shuttle van.

7.40am at the start of what turned out to be an almost 8 hr trek. (Lots of photo stops…)

We awoke to a lovely fine, clear day and joined the masses being transported to the start of the crossing.  Bus loads were being dropped off and we wondered what it was going to be like, all jostling for space on the track.  Luckily we did all span out and it was only at the toilets or the “slowly and carefully” parts of the track that we all ended up in queues.

 

On the boardwalk at the start.

 

The first part of the track is easy, boardwalks and pretty flat terrain.  From Soda Springs the track starts to climb up the long ascent known as the Devil’s Staircase, (I think there are a few walks in NZ with a Devil’s Staircase!)

 

 

On the climb up the Devil’s Staircase.

 

 

We were all very pleased to get to the top, have a rest, find somewhere out of the wind to have some food and then head up to the Red Crater. It was during this part that we all noticed a young man on a BMX bike trying to cycle the track!  Mind you, when we saw him he was carrying his bike and I’m sure he would have had to do that for a fair bit.

 

 

The awesome Red Crater! Photos just do not do it justice…

The red crater was absolutely stunning!  So dramatic, almost like something from another planet!  Deep, rich, dark blood red, rusty browns and ominous black walls steeply disappearing into this huge crater.  The fierce cold wind only added to it’s stark beauty.

The magnificent Emerald Pools.

Once again, we sheltered out of the wind whilst admiring the panoramic view.  From here it was a bit more of a climb and then below us was one of the most magical scenes of the whole trip,  the Emerald Lakes.  These honestly have to be seen to be believed.  All around us was this rocky, sparse terrain and in front of us was a huge scree slope heading down to where these 3 magical lakes sparkled and shone in turquoise splendour.  All around us people were taking advantage of the perfect conditions and taking photos and videos.

Slowly and carefully making our way down the scree slope.

We joined the long, slow procession carefully snaking down the crumbly, scree slope.  Many a slip was had but luckily no-one was seriously injured.

 

 

On our way down to Ketetahi car park with the Blue Lake ahead of us.

We walked across the vast Central Crater, the sun shining down, enjoying the ease of the track.  From here it was an easy walk to the Ketetahi Hut and it was about here that we realised that we didn’t have quite as much time left as we thought we did.  Despite starting to feel a little bit weary and foot sore, we needed to up the ante to make sure we were back by our pick up time of 3.30pm.

The track down through the alpine scrub and down into the forest is actually really lovely, especially with the pretty little river rushing alongside.  However, we didn’t get to really appreciate it due to the rush to get back in time! Needless to say, we made it back and thankfully settled in to the air-conditioned shuttle bus and drowsily nodded off on the ride back to National Park.

It had taken us almost 8hrs with lots of stops for rests and photos and we were all feeling very satisfied with ourselves.

Once we were showered and rested, we sat back with wine and nibbles and celebrated the day.  We ended up celebrating a bit too much, or maybe we were just too knackered, and decided to stay home instead of going down the road for dinner.  Yes, it was an early night that night too!

We woke the next morning to this!

And as I said at the start, look what we woke up to the next morning!  Thick fog that lasted all day, in fact, they closed down the track.  Were we feeling a little bit smug and pleased with ourselves that we had done the track YESTERDAY……..damn right we were!

 

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1 2014 Nov

Timber Trail – Pureora Forest – Oct 2014

Speeding flat tack down the bumpy forest trail, cold wind whipping past, eyes watering, intensely focused on the rutted, pot-holed, muddy, branch strewn track. Standing, crouched low on my pedals, body leaning forwards over the handlebars, fingers splayed lightly over the brakes, alert to all the possible dangers…..this was totally exciting, exhilarating and scary!

This was The Timber Trail.

Four of us were in the heart of the Pureora Forest to do the 85km mountain bike trail with little idea of what to really expect. We knew it would be a challenge, but just how challenging, how tough, how physically and mentally demanding it would turn out to be, we didn’t yet know. By the end of Day One we knew and our numbers reduced to half.

Our two injured and very knackered women get a lift back on the quad bike.

Our two injured and very knackered women get a lift back on the quad bike.

 

Two of the group ended up having to be picked up by quad bike near the halfway mark as both were exhausted. One had a nasty deep gash in her leg where the pedal had gouged her when she came off, the other had come off over the front of her handle bars and was pretty sore as well. Both decided to flag Day Two and rest, re-coop and explore the many different walks around our accommodation art Blackfern Lodge.

 

Sandy and I soldiered on. And we were glad we did, though it took everything we had and we’re both pretty fit women! We cycled over huge suspension bridges that swayed in the strong breeze, we cycled through dark, natural tunnels made of over arching trees and ferns and through a ‘real tunnel’, through regenerating forest, through old mossy lined forest and up steep forest tracks. It was beautiful with stunning views across the valleys. Best of all was the 30km fast ride down hill pretty much all the way to Ongarue.

It gets pretty windy being up so high!

It gets pretty windy being up so high!

Riding through the forest tunnels.

Riding through the forest tunnels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it was challenging, demanding, tough but if you’re fit and into mountain biking, you’ll love it!

20 2013 May

Yes You May – Day 16 – Maximise the Moment!

Maximising the moment, squeezing all the juice out of it, BEING totally in the moment, being present…..this is what I gave myself permission to do today.

I LOVE my early morning exercising.  I love the gentle soft pre-dawn light, I love the sound of the birds waking up, I love the clean freshness of the early morning.  I love the ease of just rolling out of bed, throwing on my exercise clothes and within minutes I’m out the door either on my bike, my kayak,  running,  tramping, swimming…..

This morning I decided to practice being totally in the moment with all my senses (except maybe for taste) being highly attuned to that present moment.  As I ran along one of my favourite runs, (if your a local “coastie” you’ll know it – up Scott Rd, into Wade River Rd and down to where the boats are moored) and I asked myself these questions;

What can you hear?  I listened intently to all the different bird calls trying to identify what bird was making which sound , the distance hum of traffic, the sound of the wSunrise boatsater lapping, the sound of my feet running, my breathing….

What can you smell? Ahhhhh…….breathing in deeply I savoured the earthly richness as I ran through the bush area, the faint eucalyptus smell of the gum trees planted nearby, the almost peppery smell of the vegetation and the delicious salty briney tang as I ran down the hill to the little bay…all heightened by the early morning freshness.

What can you see?  I allowed my eyes to roam further, to look deeper, to notice the way the early morning light infused the air with a delicate golden hue which in turn heightened and enriched the natural colours so that they glowed.  I noticed textures, the white silkiness of the trunks and branches of the gum trees, the shapes of branches splayed against the sky, the pink clouds reflected in the milky blue sea……

And most importantly, what do you feel?  I stopped to drink in the view, to absorb the moment, to feel the beauty in my soul, to allow myself to just BE and my eyes welled up as I was overcome with such a feeling of contentment, joy and calmness.  At the moment a woman walked past and looked over at me, “so beautiful isn’t it” I said.  “Yes, she replied, “such a lovely way to start the day.”   I felt like going over to her and hugging her!

John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans.”  By being aware of maximising moments in your life, squeezing the juice out of them, BEING totally in the moment, you are ensuring you are really LIVING your life.

13 2013 May

Yes You May – Day 9 – Kayak Into The Sunrise

Arkles Sunrise 2Day 9 and what a stunning way to start the day today!  I was Arkles Sunrise 1up early loading my kayak into my van and driving down to a different bay than my usual one. I was so excited and really looking forward to this early morning kayak.  I just LOVE being on the water at this  time of the day, it is simply magical and I have so many “heart singing” moments where my heart is filled with such contentment and sheer pleasure that it brings tears to my eyes.

I paddled off from Arkles Bay in the early morning pre- dawn light.

For me this is such a ‘spiritual’ time.  I pray, I sing, I contemplate, meditate, just sit quietly out in the water and be Arkles Sunrise 3still.  It nourishes my soul and always fills me with calm.

There was a time in my life when being able to do something like this was so far away from reality it wasn’t funny.  I think that’s one of the reasons I appreciate it so much now.  I also know that for a lot of you there is just no way you’d be able to do this either.

Arkles Sunrise 4

My sunrise kayak this morning has set me up for the day and has enriched my life.  And it honestly didn’t take too much time at all.  By 8.30am I was showered, breakfasted, the gear was all cleaned up and stored away and I was ready to start my day.