Sunday, February 22, 2015

Foggy Peak

The view from Foggy Peak
Thomas had suggested that we walk up Castle Hill Peak one weekend. I thought that sounded like a nice Sunday afternoon activity. Just going for a nice drive through the Canterbury Plains, and a casual walk up some hills to a lovely view. Little did I know, that my out of shape body would be put through a bit of a rough time, walking two hours up a steep mountain face, with no trees, no bush or anything sheltering me from the beating sun, and just a few tussocks and stones to catch my stride-or rather my shuffling feet. I made excuses to stop every so often, and take some photos, and to be honest, the view, as always, was worth it.

Having been away for about a year, I loved the idea of going for a drive. We left fairly early, around 9am, and had lovely views from the road. Passing Porters Ski Field and other places.

There were a few cars parked on the side of the road below Foggy and Castle Hill Peak. We placed Thomas' work ute along side the other cars and took our obligatory pre-tramp photo.
Lets do this!

To my surprise, there wasn't any real track to begin with. So a few other people and ourselves started off, but taking different routes. Some went to the left, we went to the right, and occasionally we'd cross paths and then keep on. Some times we walked through tussocks, other times it was just scree slopes. The scree bits usually had paths, but due to the angle, there were occasionally a few rock slides beneath our feet. It was incredible being on the side of the hill with the Southern Alps in the background, Lake Lyndon in the foreground and blue sky as far as you can see. 

As soon as it looked like we were at the top, it was just trick, and instead the peak was always in the distance, seemingly not within reach. I couldn't really bare the idea of going further to Castle Hill Peak, so we agreed we'd stop at Foggy Peak, and enjoy the views from there. We got to the top, elated at completing the hike, surprised that we were all alone, and in awe of the surrounding mountains and the view they provided us.

Stunning New Zealand

It was a peaceful place to have our lunch of avocado and cheese sandwiches and I even pulled out our well used Santa hats and we took our Christmas card photo. We seemed to be there forever, enjoying the stillness and the peace. Another couple arrived, and shortly after we decided to make our descent.

I thought the walk up was hard, but going down proved to be even harder. It wasn't as exhausting, but the sheer steepness of the mountain caused us to slip and slide and it put strain on my knees in particular. At least this time, we were facing the Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps and had stunning views, when you weren't looking down at where you were walking.

We were happy to have completed our casual Sunday afternoon "walk" in just three hours. Thomas then had the idea of going on an adventure over to Lake Lyndon, where we stopped and had afternoon tea of fruit. Not a bad place to sit and relax, and rest our legs. We saw cars arriving from another road around the side of the lake, and Thomas decided we should follow that road around and see where it goes. The road winded around the mountains, with views of other lakes and hills, and soon we ended up at Lake Collerage. We parked our car, walked to the beach there, and sat, again all alone, enjoying the view.

We made our way back to Christchurch the long way, but really the whole day was an adventure. As is everyday in the lives of Thomas and Amy.

Merry Christmas!

Lake Daniells

Lake Daniells
Back in early November, Cantabrians had a long weekend due to the A&P Show in town, and it just so happened to be Amy's second weekend back in the country. So, like everyone else in the Christchurch area, we decided to spend the long weekend tramping. We invited our good friends Euan and Natalie along. They're good company, but also the fact that they had a car was a plus! We decided on an easy, casual tramp to Lake Daniells. We'd been here once before together, but in the middle of winter and at that time the entire place was secluded and peaceful. This time, being the long weekend, and the beginning of Summer, it was a bit different. 

We stopped at a few look out points during the drive, and walked around the top of Lewis Pass, which lead us to this stunning view, and in through the bush. We were surprised to see only a handful of cars at the start of the Lake Daniells track, and thought that was a good sign that there wouldn't be too many trampers, but it was only 11am. Thomas had the brilliant idea of bringing in his inflatable stand-up paddle board, and although it packed into his rucksack okay, it still proved to be very heavy and to everyone's surprise, Thomas was slowly trailing behind us the whole walk in.


There were already a few groups of people when we arrived at the hut 2 hours and 15 minutes later. So we quickly laid out our things, claimed beds, and then sat overlooking the lake for lunch. Thomas' paddle board actually turned out to be brilliant, and we each had a turn paddling around the lake.

Amy paddle boarding

As we were hanging out at the lake and on the jetty, plenty more groups arrived. Soon enough the hut was full, so some slept in the kitchen area, and others pitched tents! There were heaps of families with young children, understandable as its an achievable tramp for young and eager kiwis wanting to get outdoors. We decided to find our own slice of seclusion and headed off into the woods, and found an old fire pit site. So we collected wood, made a fire, and roasted our sausages for dinner, marshmallows for dessert and just enjoyed the tranquility of the forest.

We woke to a cooked breakfast by Thomas before he headed off for another paddle out on the lake. We let many of the groups start off first, then we packed up and were off.  It was a quick trip away, but spending the time with good friends, with good views is what tramping is all about. 

los cuatro mejores amigos

Together Again in Christchurch

Thomas rocking it in the estuary
Well it took over three months, but we managed to get Amy's visa all sorted out, and to get her over here, right in time for Guy Fawke's night fireworks on New Brighton Beach. For Amy's arrival I had made sure my wood working goal of building a bed out of pallets was accomplished, as I wasn't sure she was keen on sleeping on a mattress on the floor. With a just a few days to spare I got it all knocked together and looks, well, rustic is the word I would use.

Amy spent a few of the first days acclimating herself back into NZ life and had a few outings with Gran and easily managed to get back relief substitute teaching for her old agency. She also had a few days work helping our friend B-rain out with his organic beverage company, at the A&P show doing samples and endorsing the product. Was a bonus as she got a chance to walk around the show and see a bit of NZ farming culture sorta stuff while working.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Another year of traveling, another Thanksgiving overseas. Amy has gotten good at hosting the holiday, and she spent the entire day before preparing dinner and dessert. With our American friend Natalie here for Thanksgiving as well, we decided to have a good old American gathering. Amy made her Greek Pastitsio, her grandma's broccoli casserole and her mother's baked sweet potatoes and I made roast chicken and roast veggies. All our flatmates came out for the back yard Thanksgiving and Natalie and her partner Euan joined too. Natalie brought a salad, cranberry sauce and wine. For dessert Amy made a pumpkin pie, a pineapple coconut carrot cake, and cranberry white chocolate cookies went down a treat to go along with Euan's extremely impressive pavlova.

Making sure we get amongst all water sports activities, we have gotten Amy out a few times on the surfboard that I bought her as a welcome back gift. Without a lot of surf time over the last few years, I've rediscovered that surfing really is a challenging sport, especially when dealing with New Brighton or Sumner waves. Amy gave it a good go and I guess technically we'll say she got up standing a few times. Always good to be out in the ocean though, I seem to enjoy mostly just getting a good body surf in and messing round helping Amy get going. 

Amy catching a mini wave at Sumner

I try to get to the estuary every time the wind is humming, and often I drag Amy along too. She enjoys reading a good book in the car, or trying to spot me amongst the other windsurfers and attempting to take a good photo. With the help of Christchurch windsurfing legend and my new friend and mentor Rob, I've been progressing heaps, and should be getting mean air, over waves in the harbour or at the beach in no time!

For some reason getting up on Saturday morning and running our asses off keeps sounding like a great idea. So we have been boosting down to Hagley Park and getting our weekends off to a flying start. Amys doing good working her times down and I have probably hit a wall going sub 20 minutes with my PB of 19minutes 47seconds. It really is a good way to start our weekends full of activities.

With our local Grower's Direct Market selling tomatoes for 99 cents a kg, I decided to surprise Amy with more than 5kgs worth one night. I didn't really know what to do with them, but we ended on making mum's tomato relish recipe! With a large pot we boiled the tomatoes and our collection of jars alike, and made enough for some Christmas presents too!


We got really lucky landing the flat that we did. I moved into the flat on Kahu Road, right across from Boy's High a wee while before Amy moved in. With 7 other flatmates, it was a mean way to meet some new people, make some friends and have some good times. The two other guys in the flat are our closest friends. Andrew is into mountain biking, and I got him to join me to play frisbee golf and generally he agrees to do anything and everything with me, and Dan plays ice hockey, and its good fun going to watch his games whenever I can. When Amy got back, she put her touch on decorating our room, and with the new (used) beach chairs I acquired for us, we've had nice days sitting in the sun, and nice nights sitting by our makeshift fire pit. I've planted an epic vegetable garden, and in no time we'll have an incredible amount of produce. All in all, its been an amazing way to settle back into New Zealand life.

Welcome to our humble abode!