Christmas holidays

Here are a few photos from my Christmas holidays. Finally!

Moss Pass (Nelson Lakes National Park)

This was a walk I had had on my personal to do list for quite a while. We set off in excellent weather, in fact I’ve never experienced such hot temperatures before when tramping in NZ.

The first leg was a ride in the water taxi across beautiful Lake Rotoroa.

002 Blick vom Wassertaxi in die Berge

Then it’s up the Sabine Valley. You’re never far from the Sabine River with lots of nice views of it. Unfortunately I was very tired that day and couldn’t quite enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

004 Sabine River

In the Upper Sabine Valley, the forest slowly retreats and we walked over open Tussock slopes with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

017 Sabine Valley Berge und wandernder Gregor

Far up the valley is Blue Lake, the world’s clearest freshwater.

021 Blue Lake

It’s incredibly clear & clean, we drank straight from it and used the water to cook our dinner.

An hour further up is Lake Constance. It’s completely different and quite murky.

024 Lake Constance

It’s also quite different to the European Lake Constance. In particular, there is no Friedrichshafen which is where Gregor is from.

With the weather still being very hot, we had a 5:45 start on the following day when we went over Moss Pass. Luckily, on the way there were a couple of opportunities for a cold drink.

032 Ich beim Trinken

The last bit up to the pass was a bit of a climb and really steep.

034 Gregor beim Aufstieg zum Moss Pass

But the views up there on the pass! Absolutely awesome! Not a cloud in the sky in either direction, and just a light breeze. We didn’t even have to put on a jumper, it was that warm.

So we got out the cooker and had a hot Miso soup and a really long break.

037 Gregor beim Suppe kochen auf Moss Pass

The descent was rather dull though, 3 hours roots and rocks through what someone had described as the ‘evil forest’ in the hut book. The only highlight were a few Kea who watched us for a while.

Over the next day, the weather slowly deteriorated. We still had dry weather for our walk up the D’Urville Valley.

058 Blick weiter rauf ins Tal

However, shortly after we had reached the hut (a tiny two bunk bivvy) it began to rain. When it cleared up a little bit for a few hours on the next day, we made our way back down the valley. As it turned out just in time, because yet again the rain set in and there were quite a few big dumps over night.

We stayed put on the following day as the track had turned into a muddy stream and we didn’t know whether the creeks were still crossable.

It was the right decision, as it cleared up and the rivers came down overnight. The next day was still cloudy and grey, but it wasn’t raining anymore.

So it was a very pleasant walk down the D’Urville valley, quite flat and frequently over grassy river flats.

You could still see the massive washouts the floods two years ago had caused though. The last bit back to the lake was a lot of up and down again to get around some very steep river banks.

065 DUrville River

Then back to civilisation, a hot shower and fish & chips.

070 Gregor im Wassertaxi auf dem Weg zurueckThe rest of the holiday

Unfortunately the weather continued to be crappy. We thought we could sit it out and do a little overnighter until conditions had improved again. So we drove further down South and spent a night in the hut at Lake Daniels.

071 Lake Daniels

It looked like it had been the right thing to do as the forecast then was quite promising for the last few days of our holidays. So we were all packed up and ready to tackle Mt Owen. But during the last 12 hours of what had been 8 days of bad weather there was such heavy rain that there was a little slip on the access road and a ford had become impassable.

This was very disappointing but there was nothing we could do but going back to Nelson. So we spent the last couple of days doing the tourist thing.

Here’s Split apple rock.

078 Split Apple Rock

The views from the Cable Bay walkway weren’t bad either.

085b View from Cable Bay Walkway

And here’s Nelson, seen from the Centre of New Zealand.

088 Blick auf Nelson von Centre of NZ


A few holiday photos

Just a few photos from the Christmas holiday.

1000 Acre Plateau, Kahurangi National Park

This is a place where I had wanted to go back again and explore a bit further ever since I was first up there in 2002. It’s an area of vast rolling plateaus covered in Tussock, with tarns and little creeks, and a mountain to climb. Gregor and me at the start, still fresh & clean:

01 1000 Acre Plateau Gregor & ich am Start

It’s three easy hours to Lake Matiri, and then a pretty hard 2-3 hour climb up to the plateau. But it’s absolutely worth the effort, here’s a view of the plateau, from the rim where you first get to see it:

09 1000 Acre Plateau

We camped on the plateau at Poor Pete’s hut, where I had stayed on my previous trip to the plateau. It was a lovely evening, no sandflies at this altitude, and not a lot of wind. On the next morning, we slept in and then slowly made our way across the plateau to the next hut.

Larrikin Creek Hut is situated at the foot of the Haystack, with a view of steep rock walls, bush and flax:

27 Larrikin Creek Hut

Over night heavy rain set in, making a hell of a noise drumming on the roof. The rain wouldn’t stop for 48 hours, it was absolutely bucketing down. Where the rock walls had been dry the night before, there were now waterfalls, and the little path to the toilet was knee deep under water.

We rationed our food a little bit as we had no idea how long the bad weather would last, and sat in our sleeping bags all day to keep warm – 41 hours in a row! When the rain stopped for a while on the second day, we grabbed the chance to have a shower and go for a little walk, only to seek shelter again under a tree five minutes later when it started pouring down again…

During the third night, the rain finally stopped, it cleared up and we were rewarded with a beautiful warm and sunny day. We climbed up the Needle, with amazing fews on the way:

34 Blick auf den Grat zum Haystack

Here’s a view of Needle and Haystack across the plateau, on our way back:

44 Blick zurueck auf Needle & Haystack

We spent a night in the hut at Lake Matiri, and the next morning was just as beautiful again:

51 Lake Matiri am Morgen von der Huette aus

We thought we’d have an easy way out again from the hut, but not far from the hut about 20-30 metres of track across a steep slope had fallen into the river due to the rain and floods. So we had to scramble around the missing bit, 3 hard hours of bush-bashing that left us dirty and tired.

Only when reading the newspaper in St Arnaud did we realise how bad the floods must have been, with campgrounds having been evacuated, and roads having been badly damaged. So having been stuck at Larrikin Creek had actually been a good thing!

Mole Tops, Nelson Lakes National Park:

This was our second tramp. Here we are at the start of the Mole track:

55 Mole Track Gregor und ich am Start

The hut was in a really nice spot, the evening was lovely, so we cooked our new year’s eve dinner out in the sun (and with great panoramic views):

61 Gregor und ich beim Kochen bei Mole Hut

On the next day, we climbed up to the Mole Tops. The views were fantastic:

62 Blick von den Mole Tops

Clouds had lifted just enough to clear the views over to Travers Range:

63 Blick auf Mt Cupola

The view down into the valley wasn’t bad either:

69 Blick ins Tal

That night, we camped at the road end, and then drove back to Nelson where we enjoyed such things as a hot shower, a coffee and a pizza.

So that was my Christmas holiday!

My new life

Here for almost a month now. Bit wet since yesterday, so heaps of time to set up this blog and no excuses like the beach down the road. To make a long story short:

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Tally BarnieWhere:
Flagge NZ

So far, life has been good here. Who&Why get along fine, and Where is great in summer anyway.

Everyday life is still a bit of an adventure for me. Lots of tiny cultural differences to get used to. Like cycling on the wrong side of the road, which makes me feel very insecure on my bike. No wonder helmets are compulsory here. Or rolling up the garage door without breaking off the key and spending the following hour fiddling it out of the lock again. Cooking is a big ongoing experiment since spice mixes and stock powder are not quite the same here, and the gas oven does funny things to my dinners. But there is a German bakery down the road, a big farmer’s market in the city center on sundays and since our trip to Nelson also Dutch cheese in the fridge. I still need to find a good butcher though, since the NZ sausages are as horrible as ever.

What’s really strange for me is that people always use first names, even in very formal situations. Just imagine opening a bank account and the clerk calling you “Üüli”. This happens to be the most common way to pronounce my name here. Funny, since English does not even have “Umlaute”.

A couple of weeks ago, Pete’s brother Andrew came over from Australia for a whole week of tramping in Nelson Lakes National Park. Our packs were just below 20kg each according to the scales at Wellington airport. It was hard work climbing up Robert Ridge, but it was worth it. There was still snow on the tops which was very cool for me, missing out on a winter.

Descending to Angelus Hut:
Uli desc 2 Angelus Hut compr

The next day, we went over Sunset Saddle. There was even more snow, so we could slide down most of the descent. Whereas the Australian technique immediately resulted in a wet bum, I stuck to the traditional boots-skiing. Hopeless Hut turned out to be everything but, and we even had it to ourselves. For the rest of the tramp, we followed the Travers-Sabine-Circuit. The weather turned drizzly and foggy on the last couple of days, but since the track was in the bush it just added to the atmosphere. We would have appreciated a long hot shower in the backpackers when we came out though, but for 2$ we got only about 3min of hot water. What a rip-off.

Anyway, back again in civilisation now for a week and still no Christmas feeling at all. I think I will ignore the whole event this year and postpone all related activities to winter solstice. We will have a barbecue with friends on the 25th (you can now see what the sausage issue is all about), and probably a quiet time the rest of the year.