Friday, March 16, 2012

Scott is here!

February 2nd – February 6th
We drove from Funky Mary’s (see last post) to the airport to pick up Scott Tice, one of my college buddies, who left winter in Wisconsin for winter in New Zealand.  Oops, I mean summer in New Zealand, though you need your winter clothes here year round! He packed light for backpacking, but also carried a heavy duffel of FOOD! Prior to coming, Scott contacted biocontrol at the Auckland airport so he knew what he was allowed to bring into the country, and he put his new dehydrator to work making tons of dried fruit and veggies. His wife (and my dear friend) Jean made some killer granola and energy bars we are now enjoying as well.

The next morning (after cherry and almond granola with amazingly creamy NZ yogurt), we drove north to Waipara to meet some folks from Lincoln University. Peter and Phil, along with two students, showed Darrell some geologic sites in the area. The forecast on the radio called for “fresh and exposed” weather, so I asked what that meant when we met them. Basically it means you will have a good cool breeze! To reach two of the exposures we crossed farmer’s fields, traipsing across sheep paddocks (watching out for the fresh droppings) and fields of stubble left from the oat harvest. I will never see oatmeal the same way. The view of huge coastal bluffs was the reward.

Darrell at the first site in Waipara
Peter was carving out steps in a giant loess deposit and found this moa crop stone as well. Moas (eleven extinct species in NZ) used small rocks to help them grind their food, and you can see the grind pattern on the rock!

Moa cropstone
We camped at Motunau, and the next morning Scott led me in some yoga stretches on the beach. I hadn’t done yoga in a long time and it felt great… Darrell hoped to collect some shells from a glacial deposit on the Haumuri Bluffs so we drove to the railroad tracks in Claverley and then walked on a path between the tracks and the beach. We crossed the river on the railroad bridge then hiked up into a farmer’s field. The gate to enter the field was open, but there was a bull there ready to defend his cows, and I didn’t like being inside the electric fence with him! Scott gave me a cow femur to defend myself, but it didn’t make me feel much better! We crossed the paddock and went over the fence (carefully avoiding all the hot wires) to check the bluffs for any accessible deposits. We never did find the deposit but we had a great hike.

Darrell and Scott on Haumuri Bluffs
When we returned to the van, we should have camped right by the beach, but another camper was already in the best spot, so we drove further north to camp and ended up in a holiday park having a long night listening to competing music and karaoke from groups celebrating the long Waitangi Treaty holiday weekend.

I was pretty grumpy the next morning, but recovered as Scott and I hiked the coastal trail on the Kaikoura Peninsula. There were New Zealand fur seals lounging everywhere! We finally bushwhacked inland when we got tired of trying to avoid getting between the seals and the sea.

Lounging New Zealand Fur Seal at Kaikoura Peninsula
View of Kaikoura Peninsula
We then drove on the interior road south and had lunch while listening to a soulful saxophone being played by Brett, a Maori DOC (Department of Conservation) ranger, who was checking 4WD vehicles in and out of the Clarence River checkpoint. We had a wonderful conversation with Brett and he shared the hongi with each of us. The hongi is the traditional Maori greeting where you press foreheads and noses together. Scott gave him some wild rice he had collected in northern Wisconsin and we said our goodbyes, so grateful we had met him and been able to share a bit of ourselves with each other.

Brett the DOC ranger and his lovely sax music
Scott and Brett with a hongi greeting
We camped at a DOC site at the foot of Mt. Thomas so Scott and I decided to hike the summit trail the next morning. If this trail is typical, the kiwi’s don’t mess with switchbacks very often! This trail went straight up.  We were huffing and puffing and a woman passed us going up the trail.  Lisa is a local and was training for an ultramarathon (see for the one she is helping organize) but stopped to visit with us. Her record for going up and down this trail is 10 times in 19 hours. In pouring rain. It took Scott and I four hours to do it once! So Lisa is our new wonder woman hero!

Nice camping spot at Mt. Thomas
Our next stop was in Arthur’s Pass National Park. Scott read about the cave stream in Scott Cook’s “New Zealand Frenzy”. This book includes places that aren’t in most of the guidebooks – or you hope they aren’t because you don’t want hordes of people there! A fast-moving stream ran through a pitch black cave, and you could walk through the rushing water to the next opening in the cave in about 30 minutes. The tramp began in a pool of chest deep water and then proceeded upstream through a series of small waterfalls. It ended with a waterfall and a tummy-slide out between the rocks. Really cool! Highly recommended to you – but don’t tell anyone else about it!

Scott and I emerging from the cave stream.
Stay tuned! More adventures coming!

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