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A while back, we had some friends over for supper. We intended on doing some bouldering, so we headed up Lake Hawea to a spot where I thought there was some bouldering to be had on some rock faces. As it turned out, the rock faces were there, but they were sport climbing routes which required ropes and harnesses, which we didn’t have. As we had come so far (well 15 minutes in the car), we made the most of it and went for a walk by the lake where these photos were taken.

I love the way the sky drops down over the mountains on the left.

We chatted, we skimmed stones, and then we headed home.

Liam and Jo, thank you

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Today is the Queen’s Birthday in New Zealand, a public holiday given by the Queen for kiwis to celebrate her birthday.

We had a quiet morning, and then headed out to Diamond Lake on the west bank of Lake Wanaka. I have been enjoying getting into my running again after joining a running group, so I decided to run the route from the car park to Diamond Lake, and then up to Lake Wanaka viewpoint. Mrs. E followed and walked the route. The Spaniel had to stay in the car as dogs were not allowed (she was NOT HAPPY about this).

The track starts from the carpark and follows an old road to Diamond Lake. It then skirts around the lake up a steep incline to the first viewing platform over Diamond Lake. From there, the track climbs to Lake Wanaka Viewpoint which has panoramic views across Lake Wanaka and beyond.

The run took me about 50 minutes at about 5K with 774 metres of ascent, it was a corker. I managed to pace myself pretty well, taking it nice and easy on the ascents. Mrs. E loved her walk too. The Spaniel on the other hand was not happy about being left behind, but I took her for a good spin by the river to compensate as Mrs. E descended down the track.

What a fabulous place we live in. When are you coming to visit?

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Today, is my very own Cloud Appreciation Day. I didn’t intend to spend my day looking up at the sky. In fact, I didn’t – work got in the way of that.

However, sunrise was just beautiful – we started off with a swirly, spangled, sun rise and we ended with big cotton wool clad skies. (full of snow?).
Before I get carried away with the descriptors, I’ll sign off, but take a look…

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Today, I (no Spaniel, no Mrs. E) went along to a tussock planting day with Lindis Pass Conservation group. As most friends know, I love gardening and plants and such, and when I heard about this trip I just had to go, as I love tussocks! I’m not sure why, perhaps they remind me of my wanderings on the top of Lake District fells, or perhaps I just admire their form, or even their hardiness as they can withstand some harsh weather at high altitudes.

I met a lovely lady called Anne at The Red Bridge (literally a red bridge) about 20 minutes drive from our house, and we drove together through Tarras where we stopped for a coffee and then we carried on to the Lindis Pass. The journey with Anne was enthralling, it was as if I was sat next to a talking natural history text book. I learned a lot about how New Zealand used to be, before forests were burnt down for agriculture land, how New Zealand species in general grow slowly as they did not have any natural predators against which they had to defend themselves. It was fascinating, and gave me lots to think about.

We planted snow tussock (Chionochloa rigidas), which is a native plant which has had a bit of a hard time either when land has been burnt or sheep or hares have been chomping on them. The planting was controlled with several experimental and control plots testing different conditions. For example, with fertilizer, without fertilizer, with lime, without lime. The team will come back in a few years’ time and assess the growth of the plants and how well they have naturalized. Fascinating stuff.

I met some lovely people, Andrew, Sue, Logan, Heather (from Stockport in the UK – it was great to hear a northern accent), Anne and Ursula. Andrew entertained us on the way back talking about Austranesians (I have no idea if that is spelled correctly).

It was a great day and I can’t wait until the next trip.

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Last weekend, us Two Hoomans and The Spaniel went for a walk along the River Clutha, a turquoise-coloured river which meanders from the Makakora Valley in Mt. Aspiring Park (north-ish of our home in Hawea) through to the Pacific Ocean near Dunedin.

To walk along the river this time of year is to walk in an autumnal colour fest emblazoned with deep reds, bright yellows, blue skies, white fluffy clouds, and then a whole host of shades mixed into the palette. Combine it with the turquoise waters, the rustle of the leaves, bright flowers on the river banks, and you’ve got sensory overload going on.

It was a hot day, so I lagged behind Mrs. E on this one, much to The Spaniel’s disgust, but that didn’t matter. This is a walk just “To Be” in.

Hey friend, lets take a walk, right now… through the photos below.

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Check out my friends blog. I’m going to keep on coming back to this, because it’s making me think… a good thing.

Just A Closer Walk With Thee

A couple I  know left the UK and settled in New Zealand‘s South Island about two years ago. The husband blogs about their new life.

This week in the UK we had some sun. Then it went away. This has been the pattern for the last few years, and frankly, it’s depressing.

Then I saw some pictures of where my newly-ensconced NZ friends live. It looks like paradise. I thought to myself: ‘In a few years time I will be totally free. I could emigrate!’

An escapist fantasy during this hard time? Possibly. It depends how things work out here with my new life post-marriage, my church family, where I move to and so on. It is hard making new friends – good, lasting friends – so leaving behind those I have made in recent years as well as my old ones is not to be taken lightly. But it…

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When we first arrived in Lake Hawea, we were pretty awestruck at how vast and huge everything was – big BIG mountains, long LONG lakes. However, we then went to Queenstown, which we soon discovered was Hawea on steroids. Let me tell you all about it…

We set off from Wanaka to Cardrona, where the delightful Cardrona Hotel is situated – pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and nestled amongst the hills and mountains. We stopped and took a few brief photos and then we carried on (this was not our destination…). As we started to head up from Cardrona and over the Crown Ranges, we just knew we would be greeted with a breathtaking view when we got to the top, and we were – we were VERY high up, and as we looked south we could see Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown in the distance. From here, we headed down into Arrowtown. Now, just a warning – for the faint hearted out there (those with a nervous disposition such as myself), this is a pretty crazy, windy, drive down to the bottom – there are some very steep drops! Next stop Arrowtown.

Arrowtown is a place, that everyone you speak to who has been to, or lives in, New Zealand, will tell you to visit. I can see why, it is a delightful, old town – which was originally a gold prospecting town. Here, we had a little tootle around, admired the old buildings, and then we treated ourselves to a mid morning cream tea (scone and jam) and a cappuccino. Kiwi’s make great coffees, but the scones and cream – delightful! Next step, the might Queenstown QT!

Awesome, rad, sweet, wicked, sick – that’s what the young backpackers would be calling it, I’m sure. And me? Yup, the same. Dude – this place was on fire! We didn’t have a lot of time, so after chatting to our pal Kerry, who lives here, we decided to go on the Gondola. Our jaws literally dropped as we soared up the cable which ascended rapidly to the top of the mountain, Bob Peak. As we looked out, we could see The Remarkables (get it now?) Coronet Peak, Walter Peak, and Cecil Peak. The mountains are huge. The Remarkables alone are just over 2,300 metres high. Next stop, the luge.

We took ANOTHER lift, this time a chair lift to the top of the luge (another recommendation from Kerry, thanks Kerry), and we had great fun hoofing it down the luge track in our little luge carts. We then watched the bungee (and no, we didn’t do it – climbing, abseiling, yes – throwing yourself into the abyss and bouncing right back NO). I’m not much of an adrenaline junkie – but I was pumping watching the jumpers! Next stop town.

In town, we then had a bite to eat and had a little wander around Queenstown. We had to get back for The Spaniel, so it was a fleeting visit. But have a look at the pictures below.

QT is so much closer than we thought, about an hour over the tops, so we will definitely be back soon.

QT makes you feel good to be alive, a great pick me up if you ever needed one. Now, where has my milky tea gone? He says wrapped up in the comfort of his slanket

[There are lots of photos below, to speed the slideshow, a reverse, advance and pause button appear in the grey area below each photo]

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For another day trip on my week off, we headed up the North West shores of Lake Hawea to Makokora and The Haast pass, which ultimately leads to the West Coast. I imagine the Haast Pass is a wonderfully scenic drive (have you done it?) – we will do it at some point soon.

There are lots of short walks off the main route of the Haast Pass and one of them is The Blue Pools Track, which is a few miles north of Makakora and about an hour’s drive from our house. I would class this as a kiwi Must Do. The path from the road meanders through a silver beech forest, takes you over a swing bridge to the blue pools, which are glacier fed, and are a deep azure blue. You can see to the bottom easily – it’s SO blue. I wanted to go for a swim, but I suspect the water would have been nippy, oh, and I didn’t have any swimming trunks with me… So, that’s for the next time.
Visitors –we will definitely take you here when you visit, it’s a lovely little walk.

The Blue Pools are in Mt. Aspiring National Park, where dogs are not allowed, so The Spaniel had to stay in the DOC (Department of Conservation hut) on the edge of the park. As a result, we had a very pent up and hot Spaniel (it was a very hot day). We therefore headed on back towards Hawea, but stopped at the North end of Lake Wanaka to give The Spaniel a spin and a swim.

A beautiful place. We plan to explore Mt. Aspiring Park some more in the near future.

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The other day I decided to go for a “fell run” up Isthmus Peak. After all, I’ve done lots of fell running in the UK and I haven’t lost too much fitness right? Ah – WRONG.
Isthmus Peak is about 10 miles up the road from where we live, on the North West Corner of Lake Hawea. We can see it from our house and it just looked like all the other mountains. And that is the problem, all of the other mountains are BIG and I keep on forgetting that.

I set off from the lakeside and ran around Glen Dene station (a large farm), up a gentle incline to the West of the station. I was feeling in pretty top form at this point. “Easy, easy, E-A-S-Y”, I’m thinking to myself. And then, I hit the incline… running, turned to jogging, which turned to hand walking (hands on thighs, walking as fast as possible – not walking on my hands!), which quickly turned to a slow walk with an occasional run on section that had a more gentle incline. I started to give myself a bit of a hard time for being so SLOW. I wasn’t really taking in the height of the mountain and the incline. At one point I think I could have turned back, particularly as I knew I had a time limit as we had church later that day. However, something in me wanted to keep on going to check out the view from Isthmus Peak.

Once I had reached what seemed to be the first big summit, and which turned out to be the first of several blind summits, I bumped into the first hoomans of the day, who told me the summit was probably about 20 minutes run away, which it was. This spurred me on. On the way I passed the sign for the summit which indicated the height of the summit was in fact 1395 metres, bigger than Ben Nevis! This made me felt better, and together with a last minute endorphin rush and a lovely ridge run to the summit, I flew (almost literally) to the top. I took a few more cheesy photos and had my lunch at the summit, and took a picture of my Kendal mint cake (I don’t actually eat it, it is there for emergencies, besides it is too precious – thank you Julie and Hilary for your donations).
And then I ran down. The descent was hard work on the steep decline, but I got down pretty quickly.

This was great walk/run/run-walk/fell run/mountain walk – call it what you will.

On the way, I saw:
1. Cows about 2,000 feet up and higher
2. Those hard core merino sheep again
3. A stag – but I deleted the photo…
4. Cute, hardy alpine plants
5. A non-English speaking European couple who gave me puzzled looks
6. Views, views and more amazing views
7. Lake Wanaka
5. Lake Hawea
9. Hawea township
10. Tussock (lots of)

I also found some extra willpower, which I pulled out of the bag to keep me going.
“’‘Twas fun”, I thought when I was back in my bed at the end of the day…
“Never again”, I thought part way up…

Next time you’re down, let’s DO IT! (We will walk though…)

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Today is ANZAC Day in New Zealand, a day in which the forces from New Zealand and Australia who fought and died as part of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) in the first world war are remembered.

On this day in 1915, the ANZAC troops landed in Gallipol iin Turkey. Their objective was to capture Constantinople (Istanbul), which was an ally of Germany during the war. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April and met great resistance from the Ottoman Army. Allied casualties included 21,255 from the UK, an estimated 10,000 dead soldiers from France, 8,709 from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand, and 1,358 from India. This is definitely a Kiwi and Australian day, a day when these nations stand together in pride and remembrance of the fallen.

We don’t have a service nearby, so instead I wrote this post and took a picture of the sunrise by means of remembrance and thank you. I also took the time to remember my grandparents who fought in the Burma campaign in World War 2.

Let’s not forget those who fell to save us in the great wars, and more recently.

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Please do comment below if there is anything you wish to add, thank you.

Further information below:
http://www.rotoruadailypost.co.nz/news/anzac-day-services-live-stream/1842480/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17836893
http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/anzac-day/introduction

p.s. – I just looked on Facebook and realised there is a service in the village, and looking at the photo a lot of people turned out to remember.