Road trip with Maddy and Kat
So I set out from Karamea with Kat and Maddy having known them for about 3 days. I already had a pretty good feeling given we had already slid down the side of caves together and had a massive geek out and scared other people away. Still it’s pretty awesome when you meet people that you can just be your crazy weird self with straight away.
We headed to Renwick (the Sav Blanc capital of NZ), which I have already made people jealous with through certain photos on Facebook. We cycled round the vineyards, ate in an English pub and consumed quite a lot of fudge. Then, with a stop to look at the baby seals we headed to Kaikoura. A pretty funky hostel, we found ourselves sleeping in hobbit holes! Unfortunately most activities in Kaikoura cost upwards of $100 since they are mostly based around whales and seals. We went for the free option and took a walk around the peninsula when I realised I had done the walk before with UWC on my first trip to NZ and the bushes and native grasses that were growing had been planted by us! Pretty cool to see how they had grown. With lots more seals to watch, it took a few hours and we were pretty hungry towards the end. Luckily there was a rather yummy ice cream place in town – home made hokey pokey anyone?
Endless fudge, cute seals and bushes planted by UWC 4 years ago!
We now had a plan to do a hike which involved heading to the summit of Mount Fyffe. It was classified as a ‘route’ by DOC (Department of Conservation), which means that it might not be well marked, and the track not well maintained. We were actually putting two different walks together so me and my friend Google tried to find some more information. I found that we would have multiple river crossings on our first day, and an impressive sounding scree slope on day two…
After ensuring we had enough instant noodles for our trip, we set out along the Kowhai River to head up the valley to the first hut. Google didn’t lie – we had a lot of river crossings. After walking up the stony river bed for quite a while, we found a track that gave us an easier path, however every time it came back to the river it was quite hard to find the other side and I am sure we spent more time walking in the riverbed than we should. After a map misread - ‘this river’s coming in here, so the hut must be round the corner..’ (it wasn’t) – we arrived at the Kowhai hut. This hut is classified as a back country hut, so much less snazzy than the ones on the Heaphy Track. It was a gorgeous day, but was we needed the fire to keep water and help boil some water for drinking. Having had success with an axe on the Heaphy, I was all about chopping the wood. However, the axe was very blunt and so I started a battle between the wood and myself to get it small enough to get in the tiny fire. Generally the wood won, but I got a few pieces ready for later. Then the clouds started to roll in, and the ghosts and ghouls appeared. (It was Halloween)
Or, we made a quality horror film. (We did - but I don't have good enough internet to upload it yet)
The next day was an amazing day of hiking. More river crossings, (though way fewer than yesterday), scrambling up rocks, and then the scree slope. It was big, and steep. I got to what I thought was going to be the top and found it continued although at a much more reasonable gradient. This meant rest time, and a square or three of Whitaker’s dark chocolate, mmmmm. From here we confidently thought it was just along the ridgeline to the summit. WRONG! Along a ridge, down a bit and then up another scree slope. Then up the path to the summit. NOPE!
Further along the top, the next peak must be the summit…you can see how this goes. We thought we had made the summit of Mount Fyffe at least three or four times before we finally saw the marker. The views had been stunning all day and now we had a full 360˚ view of the Southern Alps, the Kaikoura peninsula, the sea and even the North Island (we think). However it had been 8 hours of hiking and we still had to get down to the hut.
On our way down we met someone heading to the top – bad news – the hut was full. The backcountry huts require a pass to stay, but you cannot book when you are going. This hut, has a very easy path to it (not ours!) and is pretty popular as a stopover instead of getting up and down Mount Fyffe in a day. We arrived and all 8 beds were taken. We sat outside feeling moderately annoyed by these ‘day hikers’ who had only had to walk 2 or 3 hours to get there. Either way it looked like we’d be on the floor, although I was pretty tempted to sleep on the veranda outside. Then one of the guys already there suggested we make mattresses with the dry grass in the little room off the side. We had already put that out of the equation given its floor is concrete and would have been freezing! However, with the three of us and the Dad and his two very cute little boys helping we made our beds.
It was a good thing we did as 5 more people turned up after us! I think they had quite a squash on the floor of the hut, whereas we had luxury camping. Despite planning a lie in, 16 people in a hut for 8 doesn’t really allow that, so we were heading on our way back to the car by around 8. With about 4 dodgy knees between the 3 of us, it was a bit painful but not too long and the soon the car was in sight. With a genius plan already formed, we headed to Hanmer to soak in their famous hot springs and eat a ton of delicious Indian food.
Maddy and Kat already had a plan for Christchurch as Maddy’s cousin lives there. On our way we stopped to go to another winery! It was all in the name of buying a present... Anyway I was in for the shock of my life as we did some blind taste testing and I chose a Chardonnay over a Sauvignon Blanc!!! My head exploded and I didn't know what was right or wrong anymore - these issues will be here for a while I think. To help me get over the shock a bought a bottle
In Christchurch we found me a hostel before heading out to explore the city. It is very odd with the whole of the centre still effectively a building site, and many buildings boarded up or knocked down. They have done some very funky things to try and liven up the centre of town, with plenty of graffiti art and a city wide mini golf course amongst others. At the ReStart Mall - shops in shipping containers – we had the most deliciously, huge lunch of falafel from a Greek food truck and mixed berry frozen yoghurt for dessert. Over the next couple of days we did some shopping – no I cannot fit anything more in my bag – and a trip to Akaroa, a little town on the Banks Peninsula. Then it was time for us to part as I had arranged my next wwoofing placement in Rangiora, about half an hour out of Christchurch.
It was a very awesome week of road trip and hiking. The name of this blog comes from an Of Monsters and Men song, inspired by the dominant scenery of the Southern Alps, and the fact we used this song to produce a quality video whilst doing our Mout Fyffe epic which I'll try and upload when I can.