Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trying to be a hermit...

So the Castle Hill plan is getting a little tenuous. Turns out the closest (legal) accomodation to the hills is 20 minutes away. By car. Seeing as how I don't have one, or even a bike for that matter, it seems a little far. I'm figuring a speed limit of 100kph, which means its a little more than 20 miles. Crap. So I'm trying to work this out. Turmoil in the brain. I think I might just have to do a few day trips up there, which sucks bigtime. Oh well, it'll still be great.

On a lighter note, I ran into Christine on the street today. She's the friend of a friend who I randomly met up with in Auckland. The one person I kindof know in
the whole country, and we are walking down the same street in Christchurch
at three o'clock. We hung out for an hour or so, got some ice cream and smoothies and such.

I don't know what my plans are. Any suggestions?
I suppose I'll wander down south, try to find a nice campground in the crook of a river to hide away at for a week or two.

Monday, October 30, 2006

That one right there

More pictures.... the ones in the last post are of hiking, rinding the ferry to the south island, the westt face of Travers peak at night, and Christchurch. These last ones are Travers falls, a swingbridge over the Travers river, and flowers in the botanical gardens.

city keeps on going...

Hey everyone. I'm still relaxing from my hike, this time in Christchurch, "the Garden City." They call it that because 1 acre in 3 is designated parkland. Wow. It shows, the city is beautiful and very airy. I haven't really got much to say, I've been taking it easy, getting ready to head up to Castle Hill in a few days. Its gonna be fun up there. I thought I'd post up some old pictures.

Friday, October 27, 2006

down again...

Just got back from my 5 day hike in Nelson Lakes National Park. The Park is comprised of two large lakes, Roititi and Rotoroa, and a range of peaks up to 2900m. The track I took wound along the Travers river into the heart of the park. I made it to John Tait Hut the first night, about 13 miles in, for my first taste of the NZ wilderness. It was windy and cold on the way up, so I was very happy to step into a wood-fire heated, running water, mattress equiped cabin that evening. These things are nice, and for $10nz a night, a bargain.
Inside, I met a group of 9 (more on them later) and two couples, one of them climbers who I had some nice chats with, the other a couple who had been working in Antarctica, at McMurdo station, where my old friend Ian is right now!
I asked them if they knew who he was, and they said no. I mentioned offhand as I trailed off that he had gotten frostbite. "Mittens!" they exclaimed. Apparently thats what everyone has been calling him there days.
The next day took a leisurly 3 hours to get to the next hut, Upper Travers, which is situated in an alpine cirque at 1700m. Took the rest of the day as a rest, lounging in the sun in 70 degree temps. Spent the evening talking and playing cards with the group of nine. Turns out they were with a Christian Organization that organizes these trips. The two leaders, Norm and Christie, where volunteers who had moved over from the states, and the participants were from all over; switzerland, the netherlands, oregon. They were very welcoming, warm, and kind, and we spent an excellent night and morning together before they set off on day 3.
I left most of my gear at the hut and ran the 2 or 3 miles up to the top of the saddle, around 2300m, which was a steep climb on slushy snow. It was reassuring to have my ice axe. The views on the top were spectacular, especially of the east face of Travers Peak. Imposing, to say the least.
I spent the next day and a half descending, and the weather held out just long enough for me. I'm back in Nelson now, off to Christchurch in the morning for a few days, then to Castle Hill. Hope everyone is well!
love, Max

Pics that I missed

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rain and Photographic madness

So I got rained out of that first tramp. No worries there, I'm about to set off tommorow on a six day romp into the Alpine Lakes Park around Marlborough here. It is a traverse of two alpine saddles and spends much of the time on exposed ridges or following the edges of two giant lakes, Rotoroa, and I forget the name of the other. I'm stocking up on food and such today, making sure I've got it all together. Its gonna be good!
I took the ferry to the south island, which is said to be the most beautiful ride in the world, which I'm, inclined to agree with. The day before in Wellington, the wind was gusting at about 50mph all day long. It made for some amazing surge along the coast. A great day, I walked around for hours! The wind would take the spray from the waves and carry it 20 or 30 feet to drench me and all the people on the waterfront path. Cool!
Well I'm here in Nelson, the largest city in the north of the south island. I've been here only 1 night so far, and it has been rainy and a little crappy. Oh well. I watched the NZ national cup rugby final last night, Wellington vs. Waikato. It was a really exciting game, with the pride of each team on the line. Waikato won in the end.
On my last night in Nelson I took some really cool photos. I was wandering around after the sun had gone down, and was walking along the train tracks when I realized how cool the light had become. I took a photo of myself, but moved the camera before the shutter fully closed. The result is cool, kindof ethereal. I took a few more cool shots that day, too. Hope everyone is well.

Gaagghhhh! Still can't post pictures! Arrrrggg.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

hello from wellington

Hello everyone! I just arrived here in Wellington, the capital of NZed. It has been the first nice day since I got in the country, and it has been really nice. Wellington is located on the tip of the south island, and the roarin' forties are known to bring 70-80mph winds to the harborside area of town. Not today, though! I went for a nice run in the morning, and then had my first taste of the legendary kiwi ice cream, which is as good as it has been rumored to be. Just look at that expression on my face!

The bus down here from Auckland was about 10 hours, but on the way we passed these mountains. first was the 2000m mt. Tongariro. then Ruapehu, and up next was... Mt. Dhoom!!!! Aka Mt. Ngauruhoe. Cool. I got really excited seeing these peaks, and I'm leaving tommorow for my first tramp, Mt. Holdsworth Circuit. Cool!

The last picture is of Lake Taupo, which is ridiculously huge and beautiful. I looks like an ocean, with big waves rolling in and gulls winging overhead. Hope everyone is well! Thanks for the comments, too.

edit: Hmm, I can't post pictures right now for some reason. I'll have to get back to you all with those.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

of toilets, trees, and bubbles...

I've only used two toilets down here so far (hard to believe, but true), and both of them had very weird flushing mechanisms, so I can't tell you guys either way if it is true or not.

Its official: New Zealand is the tree climbing capital of the world. I went for a walk in the park near the center of Auckland today, and these arboreal highways are what I found.
The weather here is really eccentric. Today it has been really windy and rainy, and then suddenly the sun will break through and you will be too hot. 5 minutes later its raining hard again.

I saw one of the most incredible things today. At a park near downtown Auckland, there is a fountain that sends water flowing down several cascades before being recycled back to the top. I'd walked by it a few times yesterday, so wasn't planning on stopping to see it during my wandering today. On my way to the library, where I am now, I saw a few people standing above the fountain looking down, confusion written all over their faces. At that moment a strong gust of wind came along, and a strong cloud of bubbles rose into the air.

I walked over to the rail, intrigued, and saw that all of the pools were full of bubbles! somebody had poured detergent into the feed for the fountain, and there were giant, feather-light icebergs of bubbles floating all over the park. I sat and watched for a long time, it was mesmerizing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Travel and such

I took the train down to San Fransisco on Wednesday, getting into San Fransisco at about 10am on thursday. Met the usual mix of very strange people on the journey, including a man with the largest nostrils I have ever seen. They were like black holes on his face. I also met a girl who is the Illinois state horse jumping champion of the past two years. I spent a while exploring that city, taking photos and stuff, and got on the plane to New Zealand that evening.

The flight was smooth and long, 6,500 miles in 12 hours 29 minutes. Air New Zealand is luxury. They fed us well, have comfortable seats, big thick fleece blankets, and everyone has movies, games, and music on demand on a little screen in front of them. I was asleep most of the flight, because I didn't sleep well on the train. I only saw one empty seat on the plane, and it happened to be between me and the woman to my right! It was nice to be able to spread out a bit. The sun was about to rise as we came into the airport, and a strip eastern sky was illuminated in deep pastel red, fading into green and purple. A nice way to wake up.

Well, I'm here. Auckland, city of sails. I am staying in a hostel with a scottish guy, and have been walking around all afternoon with Ruben, a guy from Arizona that I met on the shuttle from the airport. Auckland is a cool city. I'm ready to get out into the hinterlands, though. I think I'm going to cut my stay on the north island short. Hope everything is well! I can't post pictures at this cafe, I'll find one where I can for the next update.
Much love.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Time is Near...

I leave on wednesday morning for my trip. I'll be posting some pictures and my first impressions of the country in the next few days. Talk to everyone soon!