road trippin’

I’ve been road tripping with my new best friend for the last four days… meet Thomas:

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my days with him have been happy and busy days! we’ve done a lot of stuff together and I honestly think this has turned into a long and lasting friendship!

Thomas picked me up at Donna’s house on “tragic Tuesday (I didn’t get the visa Tuesday)”… we drove – actually he drove all the time, so I cannot give myself any driving credit… but still, I’ll write in plural… sounds better -… we drove from Nelson to Westport nonstop, there we went to the supermarket to buy our snacks and supplies for the hostel, we were told when we phoned the backpackers place that there would not be any shops or petrol stations once we left Westport behind… so we went, and then arrived to Punakaiki exactly at sunset, this is how we were welcomed to the small village:

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250 km

250 km

in the hostel I met my first Israeli in NZ, he reminded me so much of my dear friend Nadav! and he also reminded me why I want to get to Israel someday… we had fun talking to him and his three German friends… the other ten Germans that were in the hostel were not of our interest – the truth is that they were not on our table so we didn’t interact with them. Amit (Israel) met Stefan (Germany) somewhere in the south and they’ve been traveling together ever since… fun couple!

next day Thomas woke me up EARLY… we wanted to do the Pororari River Track, visit the Pancake Rocks and leave to get to Arthur’s Pass not too late… and so, we did.

the whole loop of the Pororari River took us around four hours counting the visit to the Pancake Rocks. it’s a lovely walk, it’s good to start the day early tramping in the forest, breathing fresh air… just amazing! it’s not a difficult walk at all, it goes up a small mountain just once, taking you to different ecosystems from one moment to the next… there’s another big inland track – which we obviously didn’t do – that seems pretty cool and might do someday.

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after the river track we went to the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Park, FYI this is a heavily eroded limestone area where the sea bursts through several vertical blowholes during high tides. the ‘pancake’-layering of the limestone is created by immense pressure on alternating hard and soft layers of marine creatures and plant sediments. here I met my second Israeli, reinforcing once more my desire to go to Israel someday… I just love them! friendly, smart, funny and interesting guys… two in a row…

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we then walked back to the hostel, grabbed our stuff and hit the road once more…

we made a pitstop in Greymouth to have lunch and buy more supplies for the next couple of days… we didn’t know how long we would stay in Arthur’s Pass, but we did know that there are no supermarkets there.

we decided to take the scenic path to Arthur’s Pass… this road took us through a little town that I absolutely loved and where I would like to live when I’m old and wrinkled: Moana. it’s right next to Lake Brunner, I think there are only three streets, it’s calm, green, and just beautiful! we stopped there for a few minutes just to look around, take photos and to imagine myself living there!

79.7 km

79.7 km

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we continued driving until we got to Arthur’s Pass Village.
population: 54
elevation: 740 m ASL
temperature: fucking cold!

64.4 km

64.4 km

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on the first night we relaxed, drank beer, had dinner, and talked a lot! we knew we wanted to go tramping, but we weren’t sure if we wanted to do the whole Avalanche Peak Track that takes from 6 to 8 hours round trip. we thought we might just do the waterfalls and some other small track to go easy and not get too tired to leave for Christchurch that same evening… well, at least that’s what I wanted… I was pretty tired of tramping all the time… but, oh surprise! next morning Thomas was convinced by two other Germans – young and dynamic – that the Avalanche Peak was not so bad: vee did ze o-ll sing in sree a-wers (translation: we did the whole thing in three hours)… fuckers!!!

we decided to go… but we did it all WRONG… because of this being a last minute decision, we didn’t think of caps, sunblock, enough water, sunglasses, FOOD… nothing… we just started climbing…

at the beginning all was good and pretty, going up, and up, and up… climbing and holding from trees, and roots and rocks… this wasn’t bad at all!!! I was actually having fun… this was way better than the Abel Tasman, there I had to endure the steepness of the track by just walking and concentrating on my breathing (which was actually more like a hyperventilation)… but, here! here I had to move every muscle, I had to think where to put my feet and hands, I had to feel my knees crack every time I bent them… my brain was working, my heart was pounding nicely, and my breathing was never uneven!

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it was all great, perfect timing too! after an hour and a half we reached the line where the forest disappears and it all changes into dry thick grass and rocks… and there we saw it: the peak… we were getting soooo good at tramping! we were like those German kids back at the hostel, fast, young, and dynamic… so we continued climbing/walking to reach the top and see the beautiful view Avalanche Peak had for us…

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now… here’s where karenula turns into a party pooper… if you are reading this because you really want to do the Avalanche Peak stop reading now because this part of the story contains spoilers and probably a lot of cursing… you’ve been warned…

when we got to “the top” we were really impressed with the beautiful view that we had, everything looked amazing! and we were absolutely shocked because THAT was not the top… there was another top, on top of “the top”… so we had to continue climbing. it didn’t look that bad to be honest, it appeared to be “near” and besides, I’m more than halfway through so I’d better toughen up and finish the damn thing…

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crap!

crap!

so, we kept going… this time I was not having so much fun. the sun was burning my face, I was panting and starting to get hungry… but we were close… or so we though, because when we reached the second “top” we experienced a déjà vu… there was ANOTHER top on top of “the top”… I wanted to cry! I remember saying to Thomas “I really don’t want to continue, I’ll wait for you here”… but we were not sure if we could come down the same way we were going up, and to be honest, looking at what appeared to be “the real peak” – because this time we could see tiny people moving around – hit my pride and just made me think “I’m almost there… don’t be a cry baby!!! come oooon! the view might be really worth seeing!”…

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nope! this is not it!

and so, I continued… struggling, and stopping every five minutes, cursing and wanting to spit on the shitty track… I was just complaining and complaining all the time… it looked sooooo far away!!! the people moving on the top were still looking so tiny… I thought I was never going to get there, I just wanted to sit and wait for Thomas. but I couldn’t… between Thomas telling me that I could do it and my damn pride hurting and complaining, I had to keep on moving…

tiny people on the top

tiny people on the top

we finally reached the peak – four hours later – if that peak had another little surprise, I think I would have thrown myself over the cliff… I was tired, angry, hungry, unhappy, sweaty, smelly, thirsty, sunburned… just experiencing a very bad moment in my life… there was another little path to get to another part of the peak which I totally refused to walk… so then I sat and waited for Thomas…the view wasn’t fantastic after all… it was the same fucking mountains that we had been looking at all along, nothing changed except the scale of the huts in the village… I hated it…

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cranky karenula

cranky karenula

my advise on this track: stay where the forest ends!

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when we started coming down I was literally moving by inertia… I deeply desired to become a ball of something, anything, and just roll all the way down to the bottom of the mountain. I was just thinking of food, a shower and a good sleep, that’s all I could do… every step down was that: food-shower-sleep-food-shower-sleep… I was cranky, and the shittiest part of all was that we came down the same way we went up… we did not do the loop because we were told on the peak – the real one – that the other way was steeper, so we decided we did not want another adventure for the day… and to think I could’ve sat where I first said this to Thomas…

it took us two hours or so to come down, so in the end we did the 6 hours that people usually do… not bad timing after all… fucking Avalanche Peak!!!

back at the hostel we took a shower, had dinner and sat for hours in the (Gryffindor) Common Room next to the fire and unable to move… all my body was already sore, I didn’t have to wait for next day to feel every inch of my body aching… and I wasn’t looking forward to see what the following days would feel like… turns out we went up something like 1100 meters vertically and 3000 meters horizontally… you do the math… I’m too tired…

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next morning, unable to move much, we went to see the waterfalls that are near the village… like a 45 minute round trip walk… pretty… next please, I’m not in the mood…

we packed our things and drove the rest of Arthur’s pass towards Christchurch… coming down from the village we were able to see where we had climbed the day before:

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yes… right where the arrow is… I still hate it…

we stopped in Castle Hill to walk just a little bit… this is a LOTR and Narnia film location… BEAUTIFUL!!! this rocks are simply amazing… we just walked around a little bit – on the flattest paths of course – and took some pictures. we then continued our way to Christchurch… still not in the mood to do a lot of sightseeing…

54.2 km

54.2 km

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when we arrived in Christchurch we went directly to Thomas’ hostel to park the car and go find something to eat… but, being Good Friday and in the Red Zone of Chch, it wasn’t likely we would find anything… we ended up walking, and walking, and waking to a McDonald’s we saw when we arrived in the city… after this I was picked up by Lizzie and Mark who will be my hosts in Chch for a couple of days (Lizzie is friends with my Wellington Mom and she kindly agreed in having me in their house… this is the first time I will be hanging with people my age, so I’m guessing it will be fun!)… so this was goodbye to Thomas, I’ll miss him a lot, he’s good company and a great friend!!!

96.1 km

96.1 km

total km: 544.4

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