Thursday, August 2, 2012

Now connected to Stawa Productions

The New Zealand Report now links to the Stawa Productions Website. There you can follow the release of new content from Nicholas Travers and other Contributers. From the blog itself follow the "stawa productions" link in the upper right hand corner.

or click here to go to the Stawa Productions homepage.

Thank you and enjoy!

Stawa Produtcions

wanderings continue...

Greetins all,

The adventure in New Zealand is over for the moment, though tips and recollections may occasionally appear.  I therefore encourgae you, if interested, to continue following the wanderings of Nicholas Travers over at which has images and musings from both daily and travel life.

Thank you for witnessing, and enjoy.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

for Visiting Christchuch New zealand

some reccomendations for Visiting Christchuch New Zealand,

New Brighton, Taylors Mistake, Godly head, the Markets, and the port hills.  I'll let you find the bars etc...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On biking to liz’s

I was ambivalent about the distance at first. The first time I went I took the bus to hornby and then hiked up worsley, along the summit road and down to her place. Then took the bus home again. Since I have only taken the bus there one other time, and that was because I thought the bus over would make good time to do some reading: but it just took forever and I decided never to do that again. Plus the guy who ended up living there biked all the time to Canterbury uni...

I always take the same route. First down clyde to fendalton and after onto straven (being mindful of traffic as you cross two lanes of traffic from the bike lane to the turning lane). Straven is an enjoyable long strait-shot as straven changes names several times and passes through lights, a railway crossing, a highway, a school (my favorite part right next to the grass and the road here is wider) before coming to cashmere rd at a round about. Stop at the round about, wait for a gap and then proceed through a long curve (wonderful to take at full speed coming the other way) until another round about. Use caution here as the cars coming down dyres pass rd can be going Fast down that steep bit. Then don't miss the turn, or turn to early, onto landsdowne (I had to look up the spelling of that name...). The final stretch is a sprint, though on later trips I gave up sprinting up roseneath place to their home in favor of walking and cooling down.

Biking there in late afternoon I seemed to have the least luck and would often hit every light, very annoying. On the other hand going either way late at night I seemed to just make every light and make fantastic time. In general though the trip from liz’s is a minute or two shorter. Interesting to note that when sprinting the journey I would often hit lots of lights and when I went at a normal pace with Fabian we were only a minute slower than normal. I forget my times now, but I have a note I made for the couch-surfer Nano that it took me 25 minutes to bike home from the bollywood party. Morning bike rides always promised to be sweet but somehow the sunrises in Christchurch don't bring too much color; perhaps I was riding a bit late as sunrise color is often just after dawn and before the sun rises. One morning riding back I was carving as a skier for almost all the journey and taking it real slow, fun though I’m sure the cars thought I was crazy. I normally just biked it hard out and enjoyed the rush and wind, but occasionally (like that morning) I would take a more leisurely pace and think on the world, relationships, and experiences. For enjoying a ride I generally would bike to the beach: loving the world, clouds, wind, pavement at a fast or slow pace for the sake of the moment and not the destination. For enjoyable scenery I perfected my ride into town to stay off the major roads and visit nice neighborhoods with pretty flowers which I would almost coast through.

There's a bit on my Christchurch riding!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

golden bay retreat.

Pictures pending....

done with finals at last, I set out with Phoebe to wwoof at the top of the south island. The morning of our hitchhiking adventure I got word of a mate from the climbing club who was driving up. After some hasty communications arrangements were made and suddenly I had an extra hour to look a few more things up and then get lost on the bus going to Phoebes! Then the long 7 hour drive. Peter, he is so named, was well versed in geography and taught me tidbits, and shared his vast expertise, including some interesting earthquake trivia. We stopped at a wonderful uplift of limestone with a massive cascade. Really cool water carved paths and mini-cascades at the lip. down to the right a massive eddy formed a mosaic of driftwood:

whole trees, large branches and twigs swirling around - I was keen to try and run on that floating mosaic. We contemplated diving off into the opposite, empty, eddy, but admired instead. We enjoyed the cool breeze and respite from roasting in the sun which beams through the car windows.


Another few hours and at last we arrived in golden bay. Pete was nice enough to stop in and meet the lincoln group of climbers etc. at the Top Ten camp spot. Phoebe and I stayed, expecting to later go camp by a bridge outside of takaka. Instead we stayed late, no one went to the pub to drop us of in town, the beach was gorgeous and 30m away - so we set up the tent and stayed. Walking back along the beach I saw a great long shooting star to the south east, falling sharply.

The next few nights bore more shooting stars. Solitary wonderings from the toilet by way of the beach, pausing often to stare up at the sky - once I belatedly passively and slightly awkwardly acknowledged a couple cuddling on a log myself having paused some meters away for a few minutes. Final nights with the lincoln crew lying on the beach and watching waiting laughing drinking sleeping shivering. The reason being the Geminide Meteor shower. It was active at that time with the peak forecasted for the 17th (wednesday). Some were unlucky and saw none, those days at pohara I saw several, though none spectacular - just cause for giddy grins.

The days saw adventures about the limestone along with much water interaction. Mornings I went to the beach for Yoga, a walk, a headstand, Phoebe joined me and I guided her through my routine. Long breakfasts and sharing of food. The first limestone: Pohara sea cliffs had nice climbs: including Phoebe's first ever and some solid leads for myself. Fun sloped friction with the occasional pocket. One I especially recall had a an interesting series of sharp small jugs on a diagonal with a big move finish over vertical featureless smooth ripples to a small lip. Mark and chris showed up and all smiled. Phoebe made some lovely sketches and venga was said to get Juan to tackle the leads. After those climbs we ventured down to a beach to flounder in the waves, plus short body surfs, back-floating, and odd fish-crawling in the shallows. Then on the sand making body sculpture,

dancing, playing with driftwood. At pohara beach before dinner phoebe and I explore the drawing of circles in sand with toes and wander down the beach in a most gorgeous sunset, illuminating bugs in trees and going through so many stages, plus reflecting off pools of water.

More limestone at Paynes ford was tougher but still cool, the views less magnificent. Carnage wall is interesting, tricky - you have to pay attention and patiently work things out. Tried to tackle a harder overhanging climb there, but the moves to slopers were big and the overhang too much. Still fun to play around, working in the sun certainly got the sweat flowing and soon all the guys had their shirts off. Liz came up and joined us all, and I scrambled up to a high vantage to take some photos. Liz succeeded in topping out on her first climb, getting past the tricky bits with some verbal motivation. From my little cave I greeted her as she came over the last ledge - surprise! Then folks settled into lunch and I tried to take advantage of my interesting high angle.

As folks packed up and moved on to a different wall Phoebe and I went down to explore the swimming hole. Two massive limestone boulders set in the middle of the river create a nice pool and numerous diving opportunities. The limestone itself is carved with horizontal waves and folds cutting vertically in. These folds create some caves at waterline - which have nice base resonance. The folds terminate as pinnacles in the air with ridges that snake down from the flat topped - tree covered boulders. I do some dives, a few flips. Getting out of the pools I try some deep water soloing boulder problems. The holds are often sharp and those under water slimy. Getting out of the water you suddenly feel much heavier but get slightly lighter as water drains from swim trunks. The water is cold, and though refreshing on that hot day not the most comfortable for hanging out in. I climb on the rocks a bit more, explore some interesting arches/holes/caves. Phoebe settles down to read and bask in the sun and I head off to do a bit more climbing.

Two climbs at the next wall, both really nice with friction to help when you need it but otherwise graceful big moves to small or awkward pockets. The second had a simple looking start but from the wall the angles are all wrong and it just doesn't quite work so smoothly.

Before the climbs though I go off with rosa to give liz space to climb. We wander off looking for lions and checking out the rock. When we get my backpack from carnage wall Rosa wants to take a ride. So I rearrange things and set her inside. Then I walked slowly back, her sticking up out of the bag, her hands appearing over my shoulders to direct the way. Some interesting little nooks, high cliffs on either side and filled with one or two large ferns, one was too narrow for us to enter. Rosa tired of her perch and we returned to the others normally.

Liz, after several attempts got up the tricky one on the right and was exhausted but radiating. The day was getting on and we wanted to move so it was my turn to quickly get up the climbs and clean em up. I forgot to mention that since swimming I had remained in just my boxers - so throwing on a harness and heading up the climbs I looked a bit bare =D. Good fun and I of-course only noticed when others reminded me. I had grabbed Juan’s harness bag and relieved him of stress when I returned it to him as we were packing up and after he had been quietly searching for it - oops. Leaving we ran into James who had come up for a bit of climbing, but slightly injured himself, and was heading back to chch. Small world.

Off to the Mussel Inn where we enjoyed good food and beer and cheer. I ordered my first fish. Arguments about cucumbers. Kids swinging on a tire swing that looks like it’s about to break apart and kill someone. Darkness falls and we indulge in yummy sweat which passa round the table endlessly. Rosa not feel so well. Then to the fire to warm up and converse: sharing memories, debating philosophy. Mark and chris show up again.

It’s the last evening and back at camp we gather on the beach to enjoy the stars. Lying on a blanket we hold out in cold air - radiating our heat to the dark heavens above. Orion, the pleiades, no southern cross. I point out my spider and the dancing man. A few shooting stars are seen, Anna sees none. Hands find their way to odd places and “whose hand is that” interrupts from time to time. No ghost stories are wanted, Phoebe tells a true story and Juan breaks in to frighten and surprise everyone. He’s rebuffed and everyone laughs and accuses him of foul play. Phoebe continues, Juan intrudes. Conversation moves on, final drinks and words of farewell are uttered, the chill creeps in. As we lie a moment in greater silence Juan sees fit to frighten us all again. One by one the cold gets us and people disappear into the night. Phoebe and I lie a bit longer under the stars, but no more fall to great us. I ruminate on moments and memory. Gazing at the stars I ask if she has ever called forth a star. I then tell her how to find a space of darkness - to then travel through it untill your vision is consumed by a star there. Then you drag the star with you as you rush backwards out of the darkness with your vision and concsiousness bringing it to shine alongside all the other stars in the sky. We turn in as-well, finding sweet sleep and the vivid dreams camping brings.

THe group goes on a final adventure at Paynes ford: a dip at the swimming hole even if it is overcast and not as warm as we hoped. More small world meetings at the entrance and a slack slackline for me to quickly prance on, and my attempt to surf ends in fantastic face-smash dismount. I Sheepishly bow out and continue to the pools. And lo! There is Peter and UC3 folks setting up a high line over the water, sweet as! I am not a fan of their tightening method of shoving sticks between the rock and the rope however - one of those sticks will snap and poke an eye out! I do like their truckers hitch thingy though, but have to take it down in favor of a Z drag to get the line acceptably tight. I then take the first walk. A tricky mount as it sags a bit and drags on the rock for the first step. Then it’s a normal line, if a little loose, with a 2.5m drop to the water below and wonderfully sharp and sculpted lime stone walls on either side - mint. Halfway across I bail with a graceful dive into the water. Others try and quickly bail from near the cliff into the water. The water is cool, and I probly wouldn’t have swum in ordinary conditions. To get out one chooses a simple bouldering problem to climb out of the water and to the top. I have a few more runs, walking back and forth and throw down some tricks. I do some turns, attempt a 360 walk about. I lunge, kneel, then sit, stand up walk about some more, than fluidly drop through sitting to lie down. I then get on my belly and do some twists. I do some bottom mounts and have some more nice diving dismounts into the water. Climbing on the rocks I scrape my knee and bleed. Steel gets on and has a nice run, the only other to walk the full line and turn around. Liz goes kiwi and gives it a go as well, takes a few shuddering steps and with a YEAAW falls down into the waters below. HOW brave!


As the others drive south and return to christchurch Anna und Jacob give phoebe and I a ride up to our woofing place. Anna und Jacob are intrigued by the sign and glances through the gate and come with us to the door where Clair greets us with trepidation and then gives us a a little tour. The garden with a fire pit, various grassy areas seperated by tall grasses and flowers, a few picnic benches. On a hill a water fountain falls into a pool and then drains down a little stream to a marshy area. Behind the veggie garden spirals about, the labaryth arms forming a key shape as they wend theier way to the center. One half of the key is covered with garlic, the rest covered mostly in weeds. Miko, another wwoofer, was working her way around the path - clearing it of weeds. Drums made by Grant and art by all the family decorate the large and spacious barn. Kites and other sculptures hang from the cieling, rocks and crystals line window sills and collect on the fire mantal. Anna and Jacob head off to continue their journey to farewell spit and phoebe and I go about settling in. Cleaning the paths, and moving into the bus. We stay in an old bus that had been outfitted with stove, bed, and other niceties. The interior and exterior were both wonderfuly colorfuly and creativly painted, a tree above the bed, geometrics near the windows, swirls off the front and down the sides on the exterior. The shelves and window sills were covered in an assortment of shells, a collection to which I contributed each time I returned from the beach. Grant, our host, returned and there was some confusion as to who we were, as we had been vague regarding our arrival and weren’t really expected, whoops. But we cleared that up and weatherised the top of the bus with a big plastic sheet so it wouldn't leak in the rain (which never came).

We worked a relaxed schedule, waking aorund 9 and slowly greeting the day. Stretch and minimal yoga movement, a headstand attempt or two. Breakfasts of primarily oats with some peanut butter and apple for me, though I discovered an interesting combination of corn flakes, hot water, instant oats, and coco powder which made a delicious soggy meal, and there was toast as well. After mowing the lawns and tidying up the garden in general we began to clear the veggie garden. Working our way around day by day we cleared out all the weeds. We dug deep in the ground and turned the soil, burrying the top roots down deep. Then we covered it all with layers of compost, trucking load after load accross the lawn from the other side of the house in the wheel barrow. We worked hard in the sun, sweating and getting bit by sand flies as cows mooed and watched from across the fence. After a few days of working side by side mostly silently we had finished and had orderly beds and weed free paths to show for it.

After our five hours each day we would wash up and then head down to the beach. Ambling barefoot down the gravel road the first night we learned our lesson and wore shoes from then on. Our first trip was made with amy, that wandering Krishna, who I somehow always know where to run into. Wonderful stories, on fantasy - one second friends the next disowned for bad taste - then on language and the warmth of kiwi speech. Wading through the shallow waters of the bay that go for kilometers we ponder where we would go if all the world's oceans were only knee deep, waist deep at the most. And where would you sleep? A wizard I am with my staff and Phoebe having sunk into the mud a midget beside my tall figure. A crystal orb floats about and then rests lightly on the staff as sunset light and clouds begin to take form.

Grant warns us of sting rays that may lurk in the sun warmed waters, but on later journeys to the beach we find only shells and soft sand. Ah yes the soft sand! On the water’s edge the sand is suspended and the feet pass unfeeling through it to another layer of firmness. when disturbed bubbles come forth from the sand: zigzagging in merriment to pop on the surface. Another layer consists of thousands of shells which crack and crunch underfoot. This layer is repeated several times and can be seen as a shifting white mosaic under the shallow waters and in other places holds out against the blowing sands of the sand bar islands which appear occasionally. Though it was windy not once did I fly my kite. I enjoyed the waves, the shells the drift wood and movements of the tide under the illumination and enhancment of the evening light.

One night Phoebe’s friend joined us and we wandered down the road to another beach. No one offered to pick us up in the dark so we wandered the 5 or so km in the dark staring up at the stars. The beach was long calm sandy and bathed in moonlight. I explored for a camp sight, found one and then returned to the others and we all went for a dip in the sea in the waxing moonlight - cold but lovely. I then led them off the soft sands through large sea rounded rocks and to jaggaed sharp coral like rock. The low tide allowed us acccess to a small stretch of sand littered with drift wood. We set our things above the super high tide line denoted by driftwood near the gorse and then dragged rocks into a circle and gathered driftwood for a fire. Skillfully pilling little twigs and some of the dead gorse I got a one match fire; well, on the third attempt. I needed to add a bit more small stuff before I had enough kindling for the larger and entirety to catch. We sat around, enjoyed marshmellows (I used a long stick of near 3 meters in length just to be rediculous) and watched the clouds drift in and illuminate in the moonlight. I saw one nice meteor fall strait down twords the ocean in the north but no others were seen. We enjoyed the fire and the cold night eventually sent us to bed. I stayed abit longer minding the fire and became absolutly entranced by the glowing coals left without flickering harsh flame. A shimmering mass which responeded in waves to the breeze and drew the eyes in to be lost. I stared and held my hands over that circle of red softness for near an hour before shakily looking up to find the moon had set (at about the time I had casually predicted as we walked) and went and spread my sleeping bag out on a tarp in the sand under the patchy stars. The morning woke me with a few hungrey sand flies which I kept away by draping my shirt over the sleeping bag opening. We made our way back to the farm along the coast, which had interesting sedimentary layers and more crunching shells, t0 continued to work the garden.

The reward for our efforts was planting seeds and plants at the end of the day and admiring the clean and ordered labyrinth of beds spread before us. Each day brought a fresh patch of order and our meals (of Chickpeas, soup, nachoes, tofu quinoa, pasta) with Grant, Clair, Ananda, Makunda and Miko were rewards truly earned as well. YUM. Evenings were spent leisurely bidding the day farewell as Golden Bay rang golden in another magnificent sunset of oranges painting the west and shimmering pinks under the mackerel clouds. Then some reading or talking with folks, one conversation with Clair on tramping then on dance and movement was particularly wonderful. She always had a dancing, smiling, and eager spirit and energy. I always spent some minutes before bed staring up at the stars, admiringg the southern cross and trying to find other constillations - fixing my own created ones firmly in mind. I never saw another shooting star during those times, but the sky was often clear and though chilly those moments before the soft warmth of the bed in the bus added to the serenity of those days.


Before departing I commited to visit farewell spit. After the morning's work I hit the road, getting a ride from a handy man bringing unwanted pizza to his kid, a mother and her three children heading to their bach, and a family with with a daughter my age out to stay at a bach as well. The last folks drove me up the dirt road to the trail head to wharariki beach. I was sad to end my conversation with that lass who had friends in boulder and who I would have liked to connect with more, but I let it go. The short walk passes first through a sheep station, the hills former sand dunes with the odd solitary tree bent by the wind. Then into a touch of bush, which one rushes through, eagerly following the sand appearing on the path. Then one walks down a hill to the bank of a stream, ahead the back of a dune looms. Climbing through the sparse grasses on the dune you crest the dune and a valley of sorts, of pure soft almond sand, leads down to the beach and frames the rocks of wharariki. I stroll down and take my time exploring the shore, the waves crashing on beach, coastal rock, and the rock outcroppings. I leave my backpack to collect sand in the blowing wind and take only my camera to seek out some shots. A large crag of rock has an arch and stands solitarily isolated from the land. Further down the beach rocks reach out into the sea which has broken a few channels into the massive block which form hallways from high tide to low tide. Walking through these with the low tide I admire the scuttling crabs and various mussle and snail species clining to the jagged rock walls. The rock is a sort of conglomerate; a jagged matrix rock with rounded river stones of many sizes strewn through in various concentrations. Arches are formed in places as are some long tunnels. Going through one I noticed a side tunnel branching off beck left into leding to darkness. I was drawn in and wandered down it, the light slowly fading untill just a pinpoint remained behind me, then about a corner it vanished but another light was revealed from the darkness. I found myself returned to the sea, after dancing/climbing through the branches of a drift wood tree stuck in the tunnel entrance. The tide patterns on a second beach were amazing to watch as they evolved and danced. A cave sometimes nearly submerged at high tide presented echoes to enjoy and dripping water rhythms. At the far end of this beach I found a seal, which I noticed only as it reared its head and smiled a toothy snarling smile at at me. It’s presence explained the smell which I would become familiar with in exploring Abel Tasman. Soft blubbery thing, didn't move much, half rolled over or bent it’s head backwards to look at me but otherwise lay there and blinked an eye lazily at me as I gave it space. *click* even if not a good photo in the cloudy light it’s a memory I might as well get on film. I stopped at an odd little isolated split in the rock to hand stand on hard sand nearby. I ended up walking on my hands a bit and making confusing tracks in the sand. Then I stumbled upon the oddest sand-rock sculptures of nature. Rocks and small pieces of wood were suspended on small pedestals of sand with streamlined - wind blown - curves rooting into the ground. Just a few centimeters off the surrounding ground and scattered in a 3 meter by 15 meter area. Absolutly amazing.

I had mostly ignored the matter of getting back to the farm, but as I went back to the main beach through a sort of gate with the tide coming in it nagged. On the beach I saw a couple ambling my way, when they passed I inquired as to their later destination and if they could give me a lift. Indeed they would be returning to Takaka later so that was my problem solved! I advised them to the opportunities behind me and bid them take thier time and enjoy while I continued on to enjoy the main beach which I had only briefly taken in earlier. I went into the large cave there, a large log attempts to seal the entrance, but doesnt quite cover a fourth of it. Seen from behind it stands out wonderfully against the sea and cliffs beyond. A pair of swooping swallows performed a good show for me: dipping in and out of the cave, back and fourth and swirling around, sharply turning, perhaps resting a moment on the log. A smaller cave closer to the water contained another seal in one of it’s side chambers. I let it slumber and retrieved my kite to fly in the steady wind.

Karl of german descent but of england returns with anna and has a go flying the kite. We then sit in the blowing sand enjoying the elements and conversing. At last we decide to leave, the wind having found it’s way in to chill our bones, back over the dunes and through the bush. On the sheep hills I share my need to prance as an elf and we contrive silly ways of making a costume from flax or grass. Perhaps I should catch a sheep and run wildly with it slung over a shoulder to give the short clip a bit more flare. Alas it was all in the mind. They stopped breifly at the start of farewell spit so I could look out and see how that massive sand bar goes on for ever, dunes extending and curving right - trying to close in the bay - and then ending with a little stand of trees. There was also a whale skeleton set up in the yard which was a most gracefull sculpture to admire, even in the intermitency of the bones the soft curve of the whale and the sleek interaction with water was spelled out. We stopped at the Mussel Inn for a beer, played some cards (threes), then Peter and other small world aquantinces appeared and we played Jenga outside. Darkness having fallen we ventured across the road and down a short path untill stars revealed themselves in the bush to our right. The land rises suddenly there in small cliffs where glow worms send down their gooey strands to catch flies. At night their glowing bellies attract bugs and poke holes of light into the night which confuse the weary or pissed traveler’s sense of direction. Gravity asserts itself however and when someone trips and stumbles reaching for the supposed stars they realize they are indeed glowworms. Thus ended the night, I arrived late at Grant's and quietly joind Phoebe who was still reading in bed.

The next day was market day, and after a quick breki and helping to set up I hit the road to get back to christchurch. A van full of 8 kids, all of one family with the 19 yr old brother driving, took me to Motueka. A nice walk past roses and an ride offer to nelson by some chicas later a farmer stops and brings me past his farm Woodstock. At that road junction a campervan stopped and took me in. Never one to pass up Arthur's Pass I continued with them, rather than taking Lewis Pass, and enjoyed the scenic stops along the way, though I left my notepad and tiny at a beach where a sweet woman and her daughter were collecting wonderful rocks. In the pass I met Julie from CU boulder and advised them where to camp and what to do the next day. I wanted to try to get to chch and as dusk turned to night I thought I would wait for one last car. That last car stoped and squeezed me between a four yr old girl and a 14 month boy. A pleasant ride with those kiwi’s though the children became tired, moody, and vocal by the end. He dropped me at my doorstep and I walked in to find Liz and the flat enjoying a movie. As good as the sunshine of the bay was, the cozy home was a sweet thing to be back in with all its wonderful people.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

study thoughts

Finally done, the cramming of the last few weeks is over, along with my cyclical periods of study weeks and weekend tramps. I had a relatively light semester that allowed me to have so many weekend adventures. This was not entirely true however, the required work load was light but I under valued the suggested readings and study of my papers. As a result I felt I had learned very little during the semester and the last weeks of studying have been a lot more learning than reviewing. The importance of small practice problems and continuous review during the semester comes into focus. Especially for my Glaciology class. I thought we would need to know more specific knowledge and tidbits about glacial process; but the exam was focused on theoretical developments, specific field studies and observations, and the linkages these studies show between various glacial processes. I wish I had kept up in the readings as I really like reading glaciology papers, I just have a hard time remembering the important facts of them all.

I also really don't like writing essays for exams. I am a slow writer, especially under pressure, and also have a difficult time organizing my thoughts. I fear the essay about biofuels in new zealand for my energy engineering class went very poorly. I did really like researching it, and wouldn't have minded writing an essay on it normally, but my thoughts got all jumbled and I ran out of time in the exam.

Well it's all past now, and it was all pass fail. I'm sure I passed and now I can apply better study habits to my future studies (speaking of lessons I just registered for 6 classes again for next semester and I believe I decided that was a bad idea last semster...)

Study hard!

Monday, November 8, 2010

some castle hill

coming through the snow covered lowlands before castle hill

I took the day mostly off from studying to spend time with friends and enjoying the beauty of castle hill. Has an early night the night prior since the festivities of Guy Faukes day got rained out. Instead of a BBQ and fireworks with folks I procrastinated studying at home and did a bit of sphere-play before a relatively early bed. Which meant a relatively early morning, during which I said fairwell to Fabian the austrian couch-surfer of the last month, made a huge serving of porridge, made tea and forgot to drink it, and started to read an glaciology article. The ducks were up though and I soon abandoned study to play with them.

Liz arrived shortly with Max and Abby and Rosa. We gathered in the lounge and watched the ducklings eat and run around in the middle. They are from a farm and pets really, Rowena just looking after the few week old critters for the weekend. Rosa was excited at first, but soon lost interest, while us adults were gigling away at the silly antics of the ducks. They started sprinting hither and thither: one doing laps around the towel on the floor, the other just charging strait across and then back again, sometimes blasting through the water bowl and spilling the water all over. Occasionally a yellow fuzz ball would trip over the edge of the tupperware container full of food and do a face plant into food-yummy. They huddled together at times, linking puffed out chests and flapping tiny underdeveloped wings.

But time to go, so we piled in the car and off to castle hill! The way had shortcuts (obvious and non), coffee and scone, DJ, sitting on the roof, snow covered hills at porters pass, and our arrival to blue skies at castle hill. The sun started coming out in bits as we settled into a spot. Weather had been rain and snow the past few days but the rocks were dry, the air dry and cool, and the breeze mitigated amongst the boulders. We were late in arriving but so were others, and Richard's car wasn't there. The spot matt wanted to take us to was taken, but we went back later. A kid from Ywam joined us as we tackled some easy things, and lent us a second pad in the process. All short stuff, but descent and I had fun just moving around and trying things.

Rosa and I also went on some little adventures. Off to get on top of the boulders (so many of them have an edge that can be walked up). To look into the potholes pockmarking the tops of them. stopping at some of the water filled ones to splash a bit, to skip some flakes, to test water temperature. We settled into some nice round bowls that cradled our rumps and backs perfectly, taking in some sun. Then to check if there are lions in the shrubs growing in the shady nooks of any boulders. I found a nice grassy patch where the boulder band-shelled over to form a nice shelter, but Rosa thought the grass was wet.

Some more climbs, attempts to establish enough friction to wriggle past overhanging hold-less mantels. Shoes were swapped, and I found a pair sizes too small that just fit... and had potential to break in well, but I'll keep to my own while they last. Shared lunch as well. no knives lead to the use of celery for spreading hummus and peanut butter. We tackled a crazy odd problem in this massive bowl that arched over us. only matt could top out (I might have if id given it a few more gos) as you needed the right bit of length and flexibility to first balance eon a ledge, then spread legs wide underneath, and again slightly above before going for a tiny finger pocket and then a delicate thrust to the lip of the bowl. cool.

Rosa also got some climbing in. Hanging off a nice jug for a bit. Working her way up a bit of friction slab, even working through a set of pockets. We also pampered her as a princess and lugged her halfway across the quantum as she sat divinely in the crash pad. Only to get to an area of really easy but high ball climbs. I fooled around. but then we moved on.

At the end of the day I shot off to look for Margaret's necklace, and stumbled across Richard. He and chris had come late to the hill again but were on a sweet balance and dyno problem. I showed them the alternate approach and then went to rejoin the others as we raced to the car to get back to christchurch for pending engagements. Rosa fell asleep in the car and of six or seven who had wished to visit castle hill and then meet Hailey at Krishna Fest I was the only one to go. Twas a fine kirtan and good food. After I had a fine walk as people set off fireworks on surrounding streets. And they have good ones! proper mortars that you can see halfway across town.
Photos courtesy of Elizabeth.

Juan tackles the balance dyno problem on a previous trip.