Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Taylors Mistake

Another day, another walk. This time to the outer end of the mountain range I have been hiking on so far. Izzy left for a road trip by bus today. As it left from the airport early in the morning I offered to drive her. No bus ran to the airport at that time and as I do have a vehicle now it was no problem. Also the airport isn't to far away either.
After dropping her of and returning to the hostel I had some breakfast and then got a few things sorted out on the laptop. The weather had been predicted to lighten up in the afternoon. It wasn't raining, but the clouds were thick with little wind. Means that the temperatures were also higher then yesterday.
The clouds still hadn't lifted once I had finished lunch, so I packed a snack and set of towards Taylors Mistake. The small holiday town is situated at the inlet for the Lyttelton harbour, so it was a bit of a drive. In the end I had to cross a part of the small range near to the coast to get to the start of the hike on the other side. Driving up I noticed the rather heavy weight of my car, but it got me over no problem. At the top I had a pretty good view in to Christchurch, so I parked the car and set up my camera in a small park. After the time lapse had finished I packed up and carried on to Taylors Mistake. 
Once arrived in the town I set of along the coastline. To be honest, most of the track didn't feel very New Zealandish, it looked very much like Scotland. Probably the reason a lot of English settled here in the first place. The trail was nice, a well gravelled stretch and I didn't meet to many other people (Tuesday). Saw more sheep than other people. At the tip of the of the hill range a few fortifications had been set up in world war two to deter the Germans from getting close. No idea what interest they had in New Zealand nearly 80 years ago. Even if the Germans lost then, New Zealand (and by extension Australia) is/are now overrun by young Germans anyway.
Walked around the hill and got back on to Summit road which runs all along the top. On all the walk I have done so far, I've had to cross it. Once I reached the Taylors Mistake again I had to go back down to the beach to get to my car. A bit of a steep walk, but nothing to bad. Some surfers were trying their best in the waves washing on to the black beach of the town and a few did manage to catch some waves.

Back at the car I headed of towards the hostel again, but stopped along the way for another time lapse and some photo shots of the sunset lighting up the sky.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Witch Hill

Last night when I came back, Shane and me had a new room mate. Izzy, a young woman from England. We got talking a bit and found out that both of us had nothing planned for today, so we decided to do a hike together. Most of the others in the hostel had to work as it was Monday, so in the morning after breakfast and making some sandwiches for lunch, the both of us headed out towards the mountains on the other side of Christchurch.
I've sort of come to not liking Christchurch that much. I'm sure it is an interesting city for people who like bar crawls and history of earth quake stricken city's, but for one as me that enjoys the rural areas more, it just isn't my sort of thing. A few days to view a couple of things, but not weeks. So the past few days have seen me increasingly driving to the foothills and beaches to get away from the town. Today was no different and once the car had been parked Izzy and me set of up through a valley to the top of one of the hills. The valley turned out to be a lot nicer than I had anticipated. Before leaving I'd done a short look at the semi-planned route from a satellite picture which showed no features what so ever, just shrubs and rocks. At the bottom of the valley we encountered an older women on a bike clearing the path from a tree that had fallen over and gave her a hand until the bulk of it had been taken of the track. Walking up we got our shoes and trousers muddy, as the rain and cold of the past few days had not helped in keeping/getting the track dry. To both our advantage it meant that the track was closed for mountain bikers, as that took a bit of the watchfulness out of walking. Still, paying attention was a must, as the same reason it was closed for the bikers meant that we were slipping and sliding across the tracks at occasions.
Further up we were meet by some sheep (what were we to expect, it is NZ after all) and saw some fellow hikers and bikers on the tarmac road running along the top of the ridge. The same one I had traversed the day prior. Once we reached that it was a short walk further before we got of the road again to hike up a hill known as Witch Hill. Getting up was a short but exhausting experience. I thought that Izzy was up behind me the entire way as I couldn't hear her huffing as much as I was, but it turned out (rather funnily) that she was thinking the exact same thing. Reached the top and had a brilliant view of the Canterbury Plains, Christchurch underneath us and the Southern Alps in the distance.
Short note: It is really weird for me to say that any other mountain range in the world is the Alps, coming from the original, but that's what they are called.
Once pictures had been taken and warm clothes put on, back down it went. The day was a lot better than the previous one, with not a cloud in site and the wind had slightly died down, but the air was still chilly. Had a quick stop for lunch once we got in to a wind sheltered area along the Summit Road again and then proceeded to walk down a bike track back in to the valley. Looking at some of the trails there, I had to think how much skill you need to come down there. Some of the tracks I would not touch with my mountain bike, but then again it's probably built more for downhill biking. Going down on foot was interesting enough, as the wet earth and pine needles were a challenge to manoeuvre. We reached a walk able track once we got down in to the valleys again and carried on until we got back in to town. Then it was only about half an hours walk to the car. On the way we got ambushed by a cat that wanted some cuddles, weird behaviour for a feline.

Back at the car, back to the hostel with a quick stop for some shopping and then to put the legs up. A really nice walk with some good scenery on a day just made for being outside.  

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Christchurch has been a rather dreary, but nonetheless an, experience. First of my primary reason to travel to the “capital” of the South Island was to have an interview with a prospective job at one of the ski fields. So far the only one that has offered me such, two others wrote back in that time saying they were unfortunately fully staffed already (sort of surprising, since I had written to them in February).
On the way to Christchurch I passed some of the iconic scenes of the South Island of New Zealand. No use what so ever, as the complete days travel we had a heavy fog. The bus drivers talked of the grand view over Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo to the mountain range in which Mount Cook is located. Didn't see a thing.
Once in Christchurch I got to the hostel I had booked in and I reckon I got a fairly good choice. Not a raving party hostel, as my money is slowly going down and I want to be able to sleep at night, but close enough to the city centre. The only down side is that the nearest cheap supermarket is about 30 minutes walk away. Bit more exercise then.
The day of the interview came and I thought I had stuffed it up completely. The boss interviewing me is from exactly the same place in Germany I am from. Füssen to be precise and he knows my ski instructor boss at home (Hanse) personally (or did a few years ago). Half the interview was about the actual job and half was about how things are at home.
Shortly after the interview I got an email asking if I wanted the job and that I could have it. Without much mucking around I accepted and am looking forwards to working on the snow fields for four months. 
After getting the job situation sorted out I was a bit more relaxed about my financial situation, but one thing I was sorely missing was a car. Spending a couple of months in Australia with one showed me what sort of freedom you can get with only an own vehicle. Expenses, too, mind you. A rough calculation of my old car in Oz got me to a five digit sum over the course of the entire time I had spent there. But I wouldn't have traded what sort of things I managed to do with it. So the week after the interview I had a look around cars. In the beginning I just went to dealers, but after viewing a few cars that backpackers had I expanded in to that seller field, too. Turned out it was good that I did, as a lot of backpackers are currently fleeing the cold and winter of the South Island to go back home in to summer in the Northern Hemisphere or the tropics. Absolute buyers market at the moment, which reflected in the prices. Also I had driven a few cars of dealers and the last one I looked at was a piece of garbage. Mind you, he only wanted 1700$ for it, but that probably reflects the condition of the thing. In the end I purchased a Honda Odyssey 2003 Model from two German backpackers. All is already set up for camping and I can sleep the nights away in the back. Once purchased I got a check on it done and only needed to repair things worth 200$. 
Once those days had passed I wanted to get out and explore the surrounding are of Christchurch a bit more. I was getting sick of the interior city and needed to see a bit more. Unfortunately the days following saw a lot of rain and cold weather come in, not the ideal conditions for hiking. The Southern Lights were showing up again, too, but no luck with the clouds hanging above. Once a day with a bit of sunshine arrived I took a quick drive to the beach and had a walk there. The next day I popped by a lake south of Christchurch, Lake Ellesmere. The weather was biting cold and the wind was pushing the car around, so after a very short walk I hopped back in and drove back to Christchurch and the warm hostel.
The next day I was starting to get fed up, so I packed all the warm clothes I could fit in to my bag and headed of to the gondola on the other side of Christchurch. Didn't take that, but walked up next to it, safe in the knowledge that should it start to pour down I had a fast way of getting down. The weather held, but it was still freezing in the wind. The Southern Alps are covered in snow, which is hopefully a good indication of the season to come, and even the hills near to Christchurch that I was walking around on had a light covering of snow. After getting to cold I walked back down, hopped in to the car and decided to finally update the blog again.

Currently in a nice warm room in the hostel felling good at having gotten some exercise done.  

Friday, May 5, 2017

Queenstown Hill

Over the past couple of days I have started getting a bit nervous. My bank card hadn't shown up yet and I'm leaving the hostel on Sunday to travel to Christchurch for a job interview on one of the potential sky field. Having the post chase me around is not what I had in mind with something as sensitive as a bank card.
But today all got good. I found the awaited letter in the letter box of the hostel and contained was my bank card. Got all the first steps sorted out and found out that my first superannuation payment has come through from Australia. The sky was blue, the day was warm and so far I had only had good news. So in the afternoon I decided to do the Queenstown Hill, the hill I had to stop at last time due to my cold.
Set of after having a lunch of fried vegetables and walked up the hill for a good one hour. The closest thing I can compare it to is the walk to the middle station of the Alspitze, both length and gradient wise. The were a lot of other people on the way up and down as well, so I wasn't the only one using the blue sky of the day to take a walk. The first part of the walk is to actually get to the start of the walk at the top of Queenstown. Queenstown is a city built on the side of a mountain/hill leading down to the water and I had to reach to top of the town first. That was the shortest part, after that the longest one goes through a pine forest with a few deciduous trees in their autumn colours here and there. After the walk through the forest you reach the top of the tree line, which seems to happen rather sudden here in NZ. Then it's more shrubs and rocks everywhere, but the scenery just gets better and better. Underneath one, Queenstown is nestled in the gorges with Lake Wakatipu stretching out in the deeper parts of the valley. At the top you are treated with a stunning view of the Remarkables (a mountain range with a sky field in them) stretching along the other side of the lake. The pictures I've put on here hopefully serve it justice. 
Spent a short while at the top having a drink and just enjoying the scenery of snow capped mountains and blue lakes in the valley before heading back down again. On the way I had a chat to a guy from Hong Kong who was flying his drone around (a Mavic Pro, one I have been looking at) and then raced down at a fast walk through the dark pine forest.

Time: aprox. 1.5 hours.