Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hanging out on the Pirate Ship
Went on a 5minute nature walk and needed to break halfway up the hill
Sunset on the Tasman Sea
Waving to Tatty in Oz across the sea
On our trip being eaten by sandflies

Since being on the Dusky we have had a full on road trip.  We have had a bit of luck on our trip, some bad and some good.  We camped on the Tasman Sea a couple of nights ago.  After waiving to Tatty Oz we watched a beautiful sunset and saw so many stars.  As we walked onto the Beach Dana spotted a Right Flip Flop.  This is great news because now I have 2shoes.  Mind you they don’t match and the new one is about 2sizes too big, but I now have flip-flops again.  We have also had mainly really beautiful weather.  This is really a treat because we have been camping in the rainforest, and sleeping in a wet tent is not really that fun.  Basically we spend each day pulling off the road at interesting sites and setting up camp in a wide spot on the road or on the beach.  

Within the first hour of leaving for this road trip we ran into a bit of car trouble.  Not surprising to anyone in our car (as this type of thing tends to happen to us) but still worrisome.  Like a professional bus driver I scan my mirrors and dash every 7seconds.  On one of my scans I noticed the check engine light flash then the temperature gauge rise rapidly.  I fought our first response to just continue driving, so I pulled over to figure out the problem.  It turns out that our engine was overheating because we have acquired a hole in the bottom corner of our radiator.  Luckily, Ash and I had dealt with this a couple of summers ago with my car “Tugs”.  As we were waiting for the car to cool down, (you can’t open the radiator hot otherwise it will scald you with hot coolant) two very well dressed Kiwi guys pulled over to see if we needed help.  I attribute this to the fact that Kiwis are very kind and help wherever needed, but it could be because we were three girls in skirts standing next to car with the hood-up.  Whatever it was they were still very helpful.  Come to find out, these two guys were actually golf professionals in town for the New Zealand Open.  Their names were Gary and Philip if you want to google them (the Open was in Queenstown).  Since then we have been keeping a close watch on the temperature gauge and filling the radiator with water whenever it is needed.  Keep our safety and our car in your prayers, we need to make it to Auckland. 

We have tackled the west coast by sleeping on beautiful beaches and lakefronts while being attacked by sand-flies.  Luckily we have built up a bit of immunity to these nasties and they don’t itch nearly as bad as they used to.  We have hit up numerous small   towns on the coast, and have overnighted in the intriguing ones.  We meant to pass through a town called Hokatika, but fortunately for us Hokatika has tons things to offer including a kiwi exhibit, a sock factory, and a pirate ship.  Well needless to say we ended up staying 3days.  We ran into some friends from camping a couple weeks prior, and set up camp on the pirate ship replica.  It was awesome.  We were able to watch the sunset over the ocean, have a bon fire, drink local beer, sail around the lake, and spend St Patty’s day with our new Israeli friends.  On the last day in Hokatika the weather was less than optimum.  It was pouring down rain so much that we couldn’t see any of the natural beauty.  Luckily New Zealand has tons of activities to do indoors… oh wait New Zealand doesn’t have anything to do inside.  This day we definitely felt homeless and we were longing for a comfy sweater, a fireplace, and a book.  We settled on going to the cinema.  Because this town was so small they only have one screen so we were at the mercy of the box office.  We walked into a documentary called “Man on Wire” it was pretty strange, but definitely a close second to a cozy living room…. Well maybe 10th place… oh well.  

Three Wire Cables

   Got stuck Thigh deep in the mud Dana Picked the only place to sink in and got stuck thigh deep
On top of the Saddle, you can see all the way to the sound!
    Finished the Dusky Unscathed and with tons of energy

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NZ"s Hardest Track

To get another perspective that includes things I may have forgotten remember to check out Dana and Tatty's Blog at

Well, after finishing our post Stewart Island Adventures we headed out to tackle New Zealand’s most difficult hike, The Dusky.  This hike is notorious for flooding, mud, and emergency rescues.  Before each hike we are very good about heading into DOC (Department of Conservation) and give our intentions in case anything happens to us on trail.  Dana, Ash and I marched into DOC wide eyed and excited announcing we would be heading out to do the Dusky.  The DOC worker we began talking to ,Ralph, looked us up and down, rolled his eyes, and exclaimed, “It’s not a walk in the park ladies.”  Dana quickly thought back, “Ralph, we are a frequenters of parks; if we had wanted to go to the park we would have visited the Botanical Gardens.”  Too bad we know how to hold our tounges, or we just can never think of comebacks until 10minutes later … oh well, we smiled at Ralph’s statement and asked for the paper work to complete.  After DOC basically telling us we were going to be rescued from the hike, we scheduled ourselves to head out Monday morning. 

We had a day to kill before our adventure, so we decided to head out on a spelunking voyage.  We had a couple barely lit flashlights and headed down into the caves.  We saw tons of glowworms, limestone crevasses, and pools of really cold water.  From this excursion we started to realize things that we talk about on a daily basis: Dinosaurs, Sharks, Pirates, Ninja’s, and Space.  It’s been brought to our attention that we may be 8year old boys.  We understand why one might think this, but it is counter balanced by the fact that we are also obsessed with Disney movies.  We might just be 8year old children… not sure yet.

The morning after our cave experience we woke up bright and early, 530am, drove an hour to our hikes pickup spot, packed our bags, caught a bus, and jumped on a water taxi across Lake Huroku (NZ’s deepest lake).  From here we began the Dusky.  When we reached the first hut at 330pm we decided to carry on and go to the next hut.  This worked out great because we didn’t have to share a hut with 6 other people, instead we had a hut to ourselves plus one, Steve a Chiropractor from Melbourne.  We learned that when Steve went into DOC he was not told he was going to be rescued, but instead he was told where all the sweet side trips were.  Lucky for us he shared information about this sweet peak just a few hour walk from where we were.  We had amazing weather and when we reached the summit we saw rows and rows of spectacular mountains all the way to the Dusky Sound.

We finished this side trip mid-afternoon (330pm-ish) and decided once again to carry on to the next hut.  Our thought was the next hut was only 5hour walk away so we should make it there with plenty of time before the sun goes down, 830pm.  We just forgot to consider the fact that we had just finished summiting 800meters and our muscles were quite tired.  With nearly every step down I wasn’t quite sure my legs would hold up.  Well needless to say we didn’t make it down the mountain before the sun went down.  Luckily our new friend Steve had an awesome headlamp, which saved us from hiking in complete darkness, (which is super helpful since you might remember we don’t have “sonar vision”).  My favorite part of this “night walking” was the fact that we still needed to cross a cable bridge over a river to our hut.  A cable bridge is a lot like tight rope walking in the circus.  Instead of making a bridge, there are 3 cables in a “V” configuration pulled tight over the river- the lowest cable for your feet, and one cable on either side for balancing.  This is tricky in the best of conditions, so imagine it in the dark with wet boots.  Steve went first lighting the way for each of us to cross one at a time.  We finally made it to our hut around 1030pm, unscathed and in one piece. 

After each day of walking I am pretty good about stretching to avoid the next day’s soreness.  Apparently I looked as if my back was in a bit of pain, and Steve offered to take a look at it.  From there he adjusted my back, hips, shoulders, and ankles.  In return he received a Chocolate Chip Cliff Bar.  He commented later, “This is the cheapest adjustment I’ve ever done.”  I love being adjusted.

When we woke up the next morning we were talked into doing a 2day side trip to Supper Cove. We knew one was able to walk though the sound on low tide.  On the way back we chose this option because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (even if it means walking through water).  About 100ft into the sound the water was higher than our hips and Ash exclaimed, “I’m SWIMMING, I’m SWIMMING!”  So we decided to give up on walking and float our packs and swim.  This just lead to bursts of giggling and high spirits.  Dana and I stated, “Luckily, we are good swimmers, otherwise this would be a bit tricky.”  Ash, “I suck at swimming; I don’t know what you guys are talking about.”  Obviously we made it to the other side safely.  Unfortunately, the plastic bag covering my pack had a hole in it, so all my stuff was wet for a few days, but we had really nice weather so it wasn’t too big of a deal.  When we reached our next hut we heard many voices coming from inside.  Turns out the NZ army was on the track doing “field exercises”, really they were just getting paid to go on an awesome hike for 9days. The biggest bummer about the NZ army sleeping the night in our hut was the no sleep due to excessive snoring, causing the walls to shake.  At least it was only for one night. 

Because the army was there we were able to get the weather forecast and we were warned heavy rain expected for the next 2days. 

We headed out fairly early in the morning to avoid the weather as much as possible.  A couple hours after arriving at the hut the rain came, and kept us hut bound for the next 2days.  We decided not to brave the track because we knew we were meant to go up and over mountains that had fresh rivers and waterfalls which weren’t present 24hours prior.  Luckily Dana and Ash brought embroidery thread and we spent the days making friendship bracelets.  Definitely a better options then walking in torrential rain. 

On the day we were able to leave the hut we reached the saddle of the mountain pass and were walking through snow.  It was so beautiful to see, but we began to lose sensation in our extremities and decided to not linger and move on.  We tried our best to ignor our frozen hands and toes continuing to lower, warmer elevation.  When we reached the hut we collectively decided we had enough energy to carry on to the next hut.  I know what you are thinking, “Haven’t you learned your lesson to not walk 2days in 1day?”  The answer is definitely, “NO.”  We became slightly nervous when we met a couple walking the other direction and the informed us they had been walking for 7hours from the hut we were headed to.  No worries, we made it in just over 4hours with sunlight to spare.  From there we wondered why it had taken the couple so long to walk this stretch and decided that they were either walking backwards or blindfolded; or had a broken leg or were playing lep-frog the entire way.  

Because we walked out a day early we were able to make the first shuttle across the lake back to town.  Being awesome at time management we almost missed the boat, and started running down the road to the terminal.  As we were running all of the sudden a large tour bus pulled up and offered us a ride.  As we were standing in the isle of the tour bus surrounded by clean, sweet smelling tourists, so we began apologizing as much as possible for our aroma and cleanliness.  The bus driver explained to the group we were known as “trampers” and had been without a shower for 10days.  From this explanation we were a bit more accepted. 

We made it back to town and are showered, safe, and rested.  The Dusky is definitely our favorite treck.  Needless to say we have been Shitting all over Ralph’s predictions by kicking the Dusky’s ass.