Well, this is my third backpacking expedition across New Zealand and it looks to be pretty incredible again. We've got an amazing list of tracks and routes we plan to do that will take us through some pretty remote, rugged, and beautiful pieces of wilderness.
This will be a 3 month trip and I'm doing it with my good friends Nick and Andrew Arkis. Along the way we will be meeting up with several of my friends from previous trips who plan to travel with us for parts of the time as well. It's very exciting for me to be getting one more opportunity to do this sort of thing, and even more exciting that I get to share it with two more of my friends.
As always, I plan to update this blog about every week, but I will send out an email when I post new entries. Enjoy and feel free to send emails or post comments/questions. Thanks!
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"Life can really be the great adventure we wish it to be" Click this link to go to Nick's blog Click this link to go to Andrew's blog
March 29th 2011
March 14-17 We spent a day exploring a cave with a stream running through it, climbing over a kilometer through the dark with only our headlamps to guide the way. It was awesome, but unfortunately not an ideal place to take photos. To get north from Christchurch I arranged a rental car for free by utilizing a "relocation" deal, which resulted in us driving for a day in one of the worst pieces of crap cars that is allowed on the New Zealand roads. But before leaving Christchurch, we met for lunch with Djuke and her boyfriend. They are from the Netherlands and I met Djuke while hitchhiking 3 years ago, so it was ironic that she was visiting Christchurch around the same time I would be there this year. Then we caught the interislander ferry ... read more
March 9th 2011
February 28 We stayed at a motor park in Hokitika to have a rest day and apparently looked so worn and haggard that the owner offered us a free soak in the hot pools. Then Nick and I went to the grocery store to look for some good and easy food and came out with 2 frozen pizzas, 2 cases of beer, and 2 liters of ice cream. I've never felt like such a bachelor in a checkout line before, but man was that a good night. March 1 We drove to Christchurch and found it busier and more chaotic than expected. A lot of people were off from work because of the earthquake so they seemed to be milling around town more than would be typical on a weekday. We also felt a 4.6 magnitude ... read more
March 1st 2011
February 22 We had dried our the tents and were checking email in Hokitika when we heard the news. A magnitude 6.3 earthquake had rocked the city of Christchurch and had done significant damage. By car, Christchurch is only 3 hours from where we were, directly east on the opposite coast of the south island. It was very close, and our friends were going to leave from there that afternoon to meet us for the next tramp. I hadn't heard a response from them from my last text that I sent around the time of the quake, so I was slightly nervous. Fortunately I got a response a few hours later saying that they were fine and that they were still going to come tramping. All the while we were watching images of destruction on TV ... read more
February 22nd 2011
February 16 We stayed in the room until checkout time, wanting to enjoy it's comfort until the last possible moment, and then headed into town to update our blogs and do some grocery shopping. With all that done, we headed back to Makarora to see what the chances were of crossing the river and starting the Rabbit Pass tramp. As expected, the lady at DoC said "uncrossable" as she has for the past week, so we went to a nearby campsite to spend the night before deciding whether to blow off her recommendation in the morning. At the campsite there was no shade and a steady supply of sandflies. So I passed the afternoon by reading and alternating between sweating in the tent and sweating in the car. At least I had options. February 17 We ... read more
February 15th 2011
February 6 The rugby game was postponed until 3pm today due to the heavy rain, and we were going to catch the 3:00 ferry back to the mainland so we scrapped the idea of staying on Stewart Island to watch it. I'm not sure I would have been up for the 1km walk to the field anyway as I was laying on the couch in the hostel in agony with what I can only assume was a broken back. Or at least what felt like one according to my limited medical expertise. When 3 o'clock came we hobbled down to the harbor and boarded the ferry, a sturdy catamaran style vessel that seats over 80 people and handles even large waves pretty well. Good thing too. The sea was angry that day and the ups and ... read more
February 6th 2011
January 28 The alarm went off at 6am and I immediately questioned if we really needed to take the early ferry from Bluff to Stewart Island. Then I remembered that every hour we saved early in the day meant more time to relax at the hut later on, and that helped me drag myself out of bed. So we had a good breakfast and hit the road by 7, driving half an hour to the ferry terminal in Bluff, the southernmost point on the South Island. From there, the 8 o’clock ferry would take us across the Foveaux Strait over the course of an hour to get to Stewart Island. The ride was smooth and it was cool to be out on the open water. We arrived at 9am in Oban, a town of only a ... read more
January 26th 2011
January 19- Sugarloaf Pass- the 1st Pass We packed up our backpacks and loaded them into the car in preparation of heading to the trailhead for the Five Passes Route. As I was getting ready I was approached by an Israeli guy who was also staying at the motorpark. He needed a ride to the trailhead for the Routeburn Track, which is at the same trailhead we're going to, so we had no problem helping him out. I've been looking for opportunities to repay some of my hitchhiking good fortune so this was a good start. The trail began immediately by going uphill. A fairly constant grade for about 1500 ft to the top of sugarloaf Pass, the 1st and easiest of the 5 passes we will do on this tramp. My knee felt great with ... read more
January 17th 2011
January 13- Starting the Dusky The transport company picked us up outside the hostel at just past 8:30AM, where we along with 4 other trampers were taken 45 minutes down a winding gravel road to the boat ramp at Lake Hauroko. Here, we boarded a small boat where our driver assumed the role of boat captain as well. We rode up the long and snaking arm of the lake to the end where the Dusky track begins, miles away from anything. We disembarked and were off to begin a 6-8 day tramp through some of the most remote tracks in terms of accessibility since you need boat transport at both ends of the track. Immediately from the boat drop we were in the thick forest. The track follows a river through a flat valley for the ... read more
January 9th 2011
January 6- On the road again Jim and Helen have been incredibly gracious and have given us one of their cars to use while we are traveling around the South Island. The perks of having friends around the globe are great. So we loaded up the car and headed South, with Mt Cook Village as our destination. The ride was pleasant, only 4 hours, and the scenery changed quite quickly as we cruised through the countryside. The flat farmland around Christchurch gave way to the brown sheep country of the Mackenzie District, which soon changed to the dramatic glacial valleys of the Mt Cook area. I've been on the drive into this area several times already, but I am still blown away by the incredible turquoise color and grand scale of Lake Pukaki, the vribrant blues ... read more
January 4th 2011
December 28-30: Getting there Our New Zealand adventure began with a road trip to LA to start our travels. We picked up the rental car after several small setbacks, said our goodbyes, and finally left Denver at 8:30pm. We had 18 hours of driving ahead of us and we planned to drive through the night to arrive at LAX for our 9:40pm flight the next night. The drive was uneventful until 3:30am when I was jolted awake in the back seat of the car to a view out the windshield of what looked like a wall of 7 elk standing in the road. Through a masterful display of reflexes, braking, and steering, Andrew was able to weave his way through the herd... except for the last one, which was bumped by the front bumper on his ... read more