Archives for category: Travel

I took the ‘other’ ferry company back to the North Island. For no other reason than they are cheaper. This time the trip was boring. THey had a proper on board cineam but it had two problems. One – you had to pay for it, two – they were showing films I’d already seen.
After getting bored of taking photos of the landscape (or more acurately cold from the wind) I spent the rest of the voyage listening to music on my iPod.
It feels good to be back on the North Island. No idea why. Perhaps it’s just because I spent another few days in Wellington – I like the city quite a lot. This time however I didn’t stay in a hostel in the city, I just drove out and found a place to parkup and sleep – then drove back in again. Parking is expensive enough without adding somewhere to sleep on top of it!
I emailed some places about WWOOF’ing and then drove upto Hawkes bay.
First place I visited was Hastings – I didn’t like that at all, literally I stopped, got out of my van, got about as far as sniffing the air nad got back in my van and drove off.
Then I visited Napier and I liked this town much much more. Very nice, I spent the day there and watched Revloutionary Road (I try and stay out of the sun between 11 and 3 as I don’t like the idea of skin cancer). Good film. Quite sad.
I then broke alll tradition and stayed in campsites for two consecutive days!

Working in Rai Valley for about ten days my main ‘WWOOFer’ task was clearing out a warehouse full of random bits of junk. Well I thought it was junk but a lot of it was useful (apparently). Anyway it was quite a task but I learned something interesting about myself. There were lots of motor driven items in the mess, and most of them were to be thrown out – but the motor winding had to be removed to be sold at the scrap yard. Craig had a very pragmatic way of getting the windings from their housings. Simply smashing them with a sledge hammer.
Despite the generally held belief that destruction is fun I just didn’t get into it, taking to a mouting in a more intelectual manner with a spanner and a slower disassembly was something that I enjoyed much more. Thinking back to my life as a person I realised that I have always enjoyed building or creating something – even if it was mess or something that never got finished. Does this mean I’ve got more of a creative or constuctive soul? Well I’d like to think so, there is a sense of satisfaction when you have built something (real or virtual) and it works that you just don’t get my breaking something. Even the momentary elation at smashing something seems to be a feeling that I just don’t get. Probably it’s related to my gentle demeanor.

I have never been in an ‘Adult’ shop in my life, so feeling slightly bored in Christchurch I thought I should have a look in one. Mainly out of curiosity. As I walked up to the door I felt quite nervous and uncomfortable, in fact I just walked straight by. As I wandered round the block and considered my failure, caused by fear, my resolve hardened. Facing my fears and generally becoming a more confident person was one of the assumed outcomes of travelling. And although going into an adult shop really has no practical use in ‘real life’ feeling the fear and doing it anyway is a fantastic experience to be able to recall in other situations where I’m afraid to do something but want to do it. I’m mainly thinking of approaching women here you understand.
So after a lap I went back to the door pulled it open and was in. Well, I was into an entry hall type place, with another door. I look around slightly confused. It became apparent that I had to ring a bell to actually get in so I did, and was buzzed in. While being fairly sure at what kind of things there would be in there (I have seen movies after all) I was still nervous and this lead me to blurt out to the guy that had buzzed me in that I’d never been in an adult shop before. I then did my best to be nauchelant. look at one shelf – no that’s full of gay porn DVD’s, casually move on to the next shelf – no, that’s full of gay porn magazines, casually move on to… oh. There are only two shelves.
Suddenly the truth dawns, this is a gay mans shop. I make some hasty excuse and the porn merchant lets me out. The sign ‘manfriends’ on the door has a completely different and perhaps more obvious meaning now as I leave the shop and go for a brisk walk to cool down.

While in Christchurch I had a go at street photography. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do but also been too afraid to do, for various reasons. Christchurch seems to be a good place for it as the centre is large and busy so you can kind of blend in quite easily.
The decision was helped by the fact that I’d read the experiences of someone else who is now very good at street photography. He’d said that at first you’re nervous and just take long range shots without any interaction with the subjects and that after doing that for a while you’re confidence grows and you start being more bold.
I’m not going to deny that I certainly kept my distance and used my zoom lens, but I’m definitely pleased with some of my results and want to continue in the hope that I’ll get to the more confident stages in time, as described. My best few are below and I think they give a fairly good idea of how Christchurch is quite a cool town (well I liked it anyway).
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As I mentioned on the way to Christchurch I went to a Lord of the Rings location. In fact it was where they placed the Rohan city Edoras. This was on a rather long stretch of gravel road. I was a bit worried about going along it as on previous gravel roads (around new years) something on my van had developed a serious grinding/screeching sound. Yes it sounded bad, but after a while of crawling along not sure what to do and randomly testing the breaks it went away. Unfortunately even the most modern cars don’t have self healing so I knew that I would have to get it sorted out eventually. Christchurch was the place. Partly because it’s a city which should offer a good choice in garages and partly because I’d noticed that there was a mild rumbling sound creeping into the normal driving experience which had me worried. My initial thought was that it was simply a wheel bearing, but steering didn’t seem to have an effect of the sound as I would expect with a wheel bearing problem (me with my mastery of mechanics and all).
Unfortunately New Years seems to be a much more substatial holiday here in NZ than it is in the UK so I had to wait around until Tuesday 6th (four days) before I could get if fixed. First off I found a place by the road on a windy stretch out from Christchurch with a scenic view of Lyttelton harbour – a perfect quiet spot I thought.
No such luck – it turns out that this was the Christchurch equivalent of makeout point. Loads of cars coming and going late into the night. Despite this I stayed there the next night too. I had actually managed to get a decent amount of sleep because staying up late, or at least staying up late and staying out only seems to happen in the largest most touristy towns in NZ. I was woken at about 5am by a car arriving and someone explaining some history or something.
This could have been annoying but I decided to make the most of it and take some dawn pictures :
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I’ve only added this post as there were a pictures that I took (and liked) in the landscape around the Mt Cook area on my way off to Christchurch (via a Lord of the Rings location) that I wanted to share with you:
Hidden Mt Cook
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After my Christmas break in Milford sounds (including Boxing day off – as mentioned) I drove along the bottom of the country, stopping at Invercargill and Dunedin before turning (roughly) Northwards. After some confusion as to what I wanted to do (including stopping for New Years and having a sausage sandwich celebration) I headed for Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo. Both spots renowned as having good views and photography and stuff. Some of the views on the way to Mt Cook were fantastic, but for some reason I couldn’t quite capture them as I wanted – as a result I didn’t stop as much as I would in a more enthused state. However as you’ll soon see this wasn’t a problem.
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Not as in airborne, I don’t have the desire to fly about New Zealand and my van does not have the wings. After leaving golden bay, my travels down the West coast were rather more accelerated that I’d been anticipating. This was because the weather was crap, there was just no good reason to stop anywhere as almost everything worth doing involved being outside. This lack of stopping means that I covered over 1000km (625 miles) in six days. If you think about it this may not sound like a lot, but then take into account the fact that there were a lot of very windy roads and even when straight I rarely push my van over 50mph. By the end of it I was fairly knackered something that really kicked in around Christmas – so I had boxing day off and just sat in a camping ground and finished The Temporal Void… a book that I’d bought on Christmas Eve as a Christmas present to myself.

Would you believe that my recent lack of posts has been caused by me going on a few courses and have now become a competent mountaineer?
On top of a mountain
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You’d be forgiven if you were under the impression that I’d become a giant
I am giant!
this is a lookout near Canaans Downs and I’m guessing that it’s been fast eroded by ice or something like that. Like many of the tramping tracks in NZ there were points along the way when the path was less than obvious
There's a path here somewhere
and on one occasion I actually got lost and was scrambling around on a hillside for a few minutes before retracing my steps and finding the correct way. So I got to the top and started climbing across this crazy mini mountain-scape, you can forgive me I hope if I tell you that I assumed that once again I’d taken a wrong turn. I hadn’t. And this mountain-scape was next to a very tall and steep drop, AND it had large cracks in it which also got quite deep. Seeing as I didn’t have a more experienced expert strapped to me (although I think in this case it wouldn’t have helped much) I took things very very cautiously. I think I probably looked a little like a geriatric golumn. When I got as close to the edge as I dared (which wasn’t very close) I sat and took a lot of pictures. I wasn’t going to go through all that fear without having something to show for it! Even safely back from the edge I still had waves of vertigo, hopefully that gives you an idea of how high and dodgy my position felt.
My previous vague plan of returning closer to sunset to get some spectacular shots was swiftly abandoned and I drove off when I got back to my van.