Tim & Anja's New Zealand Adventure travel blog

About half way up the mountain

Long views, almost all the way back to Christchurch

Pretty damn steep!! The gravel would slide under your feet, making you...

Not a bad spot for a snack :)

Beautiful high country area about an hour from Christchurch called Castle Hill.

Looking back while walking around the Castle Hill area. It's supposed to...

One of many cool limestone rock formations

Just hanging out....

Anja found a nice place to sit

Walking along the Mt. Herbert track in Diamond Harbor looking back over...

Some mountains are just not meant to be climbed!!! We had a wonderful but exhausting tramp that really kicked our butts. About an hours drive from Christchurch, we made it to Porters Pass, parked at the spot indicated on our map, and looked up at our goal. We didn't really have a map with us, but from website research and asking around, we heard this was a good hike. It was the first hike we've done that's called a 'route', meaning there was no trail or poles to guide us, you just head up the mountain. And boy was it tough!!

It started going absolutely straight up right from the beginning, no gentle grade to get you slowly used to it. Soon we were stomping through tussock, then loose gravel, then even bigger loose rocks, and even patches of snow still hanging around. Every so often we would look up, thinking we were getting closer to the top, almost there, but no, there was more to go. Sadly, we never did really make it to the top, but despite the effort, the views were remarkable, all around you could see everything, so I would say it was still worth it.

At one point, Anja and I decided to take different routes upward. Afterward, Anja shared with me that I looked really funny struggling for about 10-20 seconds at a time trying to walk up the loose rock, then collapse with frustration and utter exhaustion. Only to rest for a bit, then get up and do it over again. What made it even worse were these other two trampers who passed us going up, not even looking tired at all. Overall, it took us about 1.5 hours to go up, and only 20 minutes to go down. We actually never lost site of Mystery Machine parked below, although he did get a lot smaller as we went higher and higher. At least the same loose gravel that was so annoying to climb up allowed us to slide nicely and quickly back down. It was pretty fun actually.

Wednesday was when we did this hike, around the middle of the day, then we drove just 10 minutes away and strolled around the really cool area of Castle Hill. We had passed it before driving to Arthurs Pass back in June, and it was still on our list to do, so we did it! Just amazing rock formations, and natural beauty. It was a clear, blue sky, sunny day, with a bit of a breeze, and we just enjoyed a nice walk in the area. A few other folks were around, but it was mostly us, doing our thing, hanging out in the middle of NZ. We stopped at several parts, really soaked up the experience, and reflected to each other that this was what it's all about. All those hours of stupid work, make days like this possible. We're definitely super lucky.

Our other day off together, Thursday, Anja had to work in the morning, but in the afternoon we headed on a short ferry ride to explore Diamond Harbor. We had also been meaning to check out this area, and with the weather cooperating so nicely, we went for it. Other than a nice hike, (not nearly as steep as the other day), the highlight was the largest size small ice cream cone we've ever had. All for the bank busting $1.50 each. I went with a traditional flavor, but Anja tried what is fast becoming a favorite, passion fruit. Yum yum!!

I thought I would also share some interesting, and I think funny little antecodotes from my work these days. I'm no longer Tim the tax man, for about a month now I've been working at a cafe in the Botanic Gardens. By far the best part of this new gig is the same days off as Anja on Wed and Thurs to play together - as illustrated above :), but the higher pay and opportunity to be on my feet, moving around, sometimes outdoors, and interacting with people is a nice contrast to my boring, sit at a computer desk job before. Sometimes I make coffee- I still don't drink it, but I can make a pretty mean cappacino now-, and try not to spill devonshire teas on the little old ladies. The elderly, and young moms (or mums as they would say here) are the main customers.

I get a hoot out of most of the people. If you can;t have a sense of humour, what's the point, right?? Sometimes at the register (known as the "till" here), customers will argue pretty seriously over who pays. I have had 2 credit cards jammed in my hand at the same time, each lady insistent it be her turn to "shout" for the lunch. I've had money ripped back out of my hand, and tit for tat bickering on plenty of occasions. A few times I've had to just say, I'm taking the money now.... A lot of mothers come in and often they breast feed, or ask to have milk warmed up in the microwave, or the kids mushy canned food. Last week a little one barfed back her lunch all over the high chair. That was not fun.

Just today I easily spotted an American. She asked for a napkin. You see, over here they call them serviettes. More than once, we've been out to dinner at a friends house, and there have been no napkins with the silverware. We think this is quite odd. As I joked with the American woman at the cafe, "what do they expect us to do, wipe our mouth with our shirt sleeve?"

Some older ladies last week were convinced I was from Ireland or Scotland. I've met people from New York City, Seattle, Arizona and even a young guy who graduated from MIT. Being in the Botanic Gardens, we have our fare share of wildlife visitors too. Last week, a bird flew in the door, and once I had to shew out a duck who just waddled right in the door looking like he owned the place. Some kids even got scared! I enjoy the most seeing all the little ducklings follow momma duck down the path, into the pond. It reminds me of the Public Gardens in Boston and the book "Make Way for the Ducklings". One momma duck even had 27 little ones in tow, no joke!

As you can tell, I'm easily entertained, most of the work day goes by quickly, and that is nice. Last weekend we had dinner with Sue, Simon and the kids, the really nice family we stayed with WOOFing back in March. They just returned from their sabbatical back home in the UK, and it was great to catch up with them.

We're really excited about our friends Joe and Erin visiting soon- arriving on Halloween. Then in mid November, my sister Katie is coming for a visit, not to mention the big group coming in December will be here before we know it, so lots of fun play time is coming up. Woo hoo!! We're still waiting for that perfect weather day for the hot air balloon ride, and we're now all vaccinated for Thailand.

Ka kite ano! translation = "goodbye", or "until i see you again" :)

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