This is where I got stuck in loose stones and had to dig myself out .

I headed  for Ohope and stayed at the campsite for the night .

The last day I stayed at Rotorua with a friend and we spent the morning racing on the luge .

2010/06/19 Lake Waikaremoana

[work in progress ]

There are more pictures stored here on my photobucket album

Yesterday I left Raglan and headed through Rotorua and down to Lake Waikaremoana .
It's been 5 years since I was on that road and this picture should tell you why ...

95km of winding gravel roads ... the first time I did it was in an old Toyota 1300 and I got tired of the slow journey and started going faster around the corners until I was so car-sick I had to pull over and sleep in the back of my car 45km from the lake .
The second time I took sea-sick medication to make it easier and got a little drowsy and crashed into the side of another car on a bend .....
After that I swore I would never go on that road again but now that I have my van and stop often to take photos it makes it easier and I must say the journey was pleasant in comparison to the times I was in a hurry to finish the trip .
 By taking things slower I ended up going down side roads for some different shots ....

Once you get to "the road" leading to the lake you have to be careful since it narrows down to one lane occasionally ....

I stopped occasionally when the road opened up for parking space

 The horse came up to have a look at the camera

 Eventually you get your first glimpse of the lake

 A few more minutes driving and you come across a waterfall

 There's a 53km walk you can do around the lake - the 'water taxi' can drop you off at the beginning and pick you up at the end . I've done that walk before and this time decided to head for the smaller lake "Waikareiti " , rated at a 1 hour walk . It took 45 minutes including the time taken to stop for pictures .

 There are quite a few waterfalls in the area within 5 - 10 minutes walk from the side of the road .

There are many views of the lake along the road ...

And my van parked at the campsite .....

The new look :)

I had the picture of my van up on a photography forum .... someone decided to photoshop some colour into it :

Before :

After :

Of course it would be nice to paint it something like that but then again it would be a little like putting a sign on the side saying "Expensive camera gear inside ! " :)

2010/06 Return to Rotorua

Since it was a long weekend I visited my mate in Roturua with the hopes of being able to test my new Tokina 11-16 mm F2.8lens on some decent scenery . It was not to be , squally showers the whole time - but we did go for a drive Sunday morning - to "state highway 36'' since he said there was a rather scenic piece of road there .
There was only one chance to get a snap out the window .... 

There were a few photo opportunities near the lake before the rain really closed in .


Then we ventured into a a craft market to get away from the rain for a while ....

The weather over the lake was still terrible ....

Then we headed for the bathhouse museum ....

I'm enjoying this new lens - even if the weather wasn't that good . 



I was at the gym on Monday , this Maori bloke introduces himself , accentuates his surname and proudly says " My brother is the rugby player " .  I told him " I don't watch rugby " , he says " You're a South African aren't you ?" .
I said " I also don't drink beer " .
He gets this shocked look on his face and says " Do you eat meat ?????? !" ....
Just for fun I said " Yes but I don't like it much " .
So to be South African obviously means you watch rugby , drink beer and eat meat  .  

2010/04 Rolled car

I was coming home from the gym in Raglan on Monday night and picked up a hitch hiker since he was a tourist with a back-pack and not a sleazy looking character .
As we left the 50km zone and the 100km zone started we saw a 4X4 on its roof facing back toward us on the side of the road . The hitch-hiker told me he was a paramedic so we pulled over .
There were a few people standing there and one woman kept telling me '' Don't touch anything you can't move them if they're injured " . 
Fair enough but we didn't know their condition yet . I managed to speak to them through the front drivers-side window and they told me they weren't injured . So I opened the back bull-bar with this woman telling me " You can't move them , you can't move them !" . I tried to kick the window out but just bounced off - punching it had the same effect . Another bystander helped me ram it with a large branch and we put some blankets over the glass while they crawled out .
Apparently they 'spun out' as they accelerated into the 100km zone and went over , someone nearby mentioned that they have also slid there before though it's never happened to me on that spot [ yet] .

After we got them out the ambulance arrived while I was taking pictures , then when the police car turned up I decided it was time to leave because they would probably want a written statement starting from the day I entered the country ......

2010/04 Papanui point Raglan .

On Sunday 11/04/2010 I took a drive to Papanui point near Ruapuke , 22km south of Raglan town .
This is a video of a drive along the road to Te Toto gorge which is 7 km  before Papanui point.

This is a view from the platform of the gorge .

From a distance you can see a few cars parked in the field . It is a popular fishing spot because you can fish in deep water from the side of a cliff and some large fish have been pulled out there .
A few weeks ago someone pulled out a 22kg snapper .

When you get to the gate there is a reminder that you are entering private land and the farmer would appreciate contributions toward the upkeep of the 'road'[?]

The 'road' is a bit scary and it is actually safer to drive on the left because the top of the road turns into large ditches further along .

It's a reasonable walk down the ridge .

This spot is infamous for drownings - people have been washed off the rocks by the occasional rouge wave .

There were quite a few people fishing off the rocks about 20m above the sea .

I climbed down the chain to the right , not for the feint hearted , these rocks are closer to the water and more susceptible to rouge waves .

"Peter" had caught a barracuda on pilchards

I climbed back up the chain and went to the left where people were fishing higher up ... "Craig" had caught two Kahawai on squid .

I headed back up the path toward the van ...

On the way home I stopped off at the Te Toto gorge and had a look over the edge 

Papanui point is a decent spot for taking pictures as well as for fishing . I may have to head back one day for some sunset shots ! 

2010/04 Ruapehu challenge = pain!

I just got back from my attempt at walking around Ruapehu in a day . Basically the mountain looked like this the day before - and on Friday ....

It's about 67 km around and wasn't going to let me off easy .

After 50km I drank bad river water at the hut , apart form the fact that I had double blisters under one toenail that lifted it out of its 'mountings' - 

Thursday night at Whakapapa camp kitchen , I had the laptop going and wanted to see what the gopro helmet camera could do in low light [ wb adjusted ] Exif says iso 313 .

Just before 5 am I walked past the camp shop , the beginning of my adventure . When I plan on waking up early I usually wake up

at 3:00 am and then every half hour from then on so I was up at about 4:20 am .

At 7:00 am the sun was starting to makes its presence known .

By this stage I had twisted my right ankle [ about 6 :00 am ] . I've learned to roll my ankle all the way when this happens to avoid hurting it but it was quite a distance that my foot slipped and I managed to pull a muscle in my upper thigh at the same time . It hurt every time I lifted my right leg from then on .... after about 3 hours I think my leg gave up sending pain signals to my brain but it did resurface later .

I never realized that my camera lens was fogging up , luckily it has a waterproof housing .

The walk to the "New Waihohonu " hut is rated at 5 1/2 hours though these ratings are normally very conservative . I had to go slowly when it was very dark so I was satisfied with 2 3/4 hours .

I made this my 'breakfast stop' and allowed myself 15 minutes before heading off again at 8:00 am .

The walk to Rangipo hut is rated at 5 hours according to the sign . I'm not so good on flat ground so I battled to halve that rating and had to settle for 2 3/4 hours again - along with a 15 minute break .

You have to cross the Tukino 4X4 track as well ...

and this bridge

There's my shadow crossing the bridge

And the Rangipo hut !

From Rangipo hut to Mangaeheuhu hut it is rated at 6 hours though on the map it looks shorter than all the other walks . The reason is that there is this huge valley you have to cross

That's where my advantage comes in , I'm slow on flat terrain but tend to be able to maintain my pace up and down steep hills [ so far ] and I turned that 6 hours into another 2 3/4 hours .

Someone had built a wind shelter at the top of the climb , I needed shelter from the sun because it was an unusually [ for Ruapehu ] clear day !

I was going through the only desert area in the country ...

I got some temporary relief from a small bit of forest before the hut ....

By this time I had done "16 1/2 hours"[according to the map] in 9 hours including rest and I thought I had it " in the bag" since the total walking time is rated at something like 30 hours. I estimated that I could be back at the village before darkness [ 8pm ] . My calculations were wrong and did not include rest times - my mind wasn't too clear .

I aired my feet out and put my socks and boots back on and decided to ignore the fact that my right shoe felt a bit stuffy in the front after that stop .....

I headed off confidently .....

In areas where the vegetation is fragile they build platform/tracks to protect it from hikers .

I went past the Waitonga falls as well , the sign had stated 3 hours to the road so I was happy , and confident , with 1 1/2 hours .

It was a really nice day and I got a few good views of Ruapehu

It is amazing how much of a relief it can be to see a road and cars !

This is where the real adventure begins , things had been going too well so far . [ apart from twisting my right ankle 3 times by now , and the muscle tear on my upper thigh ] .

Now you have to walk about 3 km up this steep road heading for the Turoa ski-field .

but it was when I started going down this hill that I felt the pain that was building up on my right foot in the front where the sock was bunched up .

I knew I was in trouble when a 1 1/2 hour rated walk took my 1 hr 10 minutes - it should have taken 45 minutes .

This area is well worth a day trip though , there's a white band of rock running down the centre of the water ....

It might be a bit scary for someone scared of heights because you have to make your way down the ridges and jump across the river in places .

And there's the Mangaturuturu where I was greeted by a sign that stated that it was 8-10 hours to Whakapapa village . It was 17:38 when I took this picture .

I had been walking for 12 hours 45 minutes , this was about the 50km mark . In the early stages I was cutting the rated times in half and at that rate I should have been able to get back to the village in 4-5 hours but the fact that I was now limping and took almost the rated time to this hut meant that it may well have taken another 10 hours to get back - and I might have run into trouble along the way especially at night .

I decided that it would be wiser to spend the night at the hut . I had packed a light fleece blanket and could tuck my legs into my pack with my track pants and fleece jacket on and be warm enough .

My emergency rations were three cups of cheap two minute noodles which I don't normally eat by the way .

Now let's list my mistakes :
The water tank was empty at this hut and 1.) I was too tired to walk to the fast flowing river to get water . I walked to the 2.) slow moving stream nearby and it was easier just to sit on the bridge and dip my bottle into the still water in the centre .
3.) I was too tired and couldn't be bothered to dig out the water -purifying tablets .
I never had a stove with me which is ok but I lit a fire in the fire-place and put one of the hut pots full of the water on it and 4.) as soon as I saw bubbles decided it was enough to kill any germs and poured it into my three cups of [ 5.) different flavour ] noodles .
At 9:00 pm I went and sat outside to cool down because the other occupants had the fire so hot that I was sweating .
At around 11:00 pm everything was cool enough to fall asleep , I was wrapped in my fleece blanket with all my warm clothing on ..... and I woke up wanting to throw-up .
I spent the rest of the night with a bucket next to me for 'just in case' and realized that this was the end of my attempt to go all the way around the mountain even in two days .
I knew that in the morning I would have to make my way back up the 1 1/2 hour track

I thought it might be a 4 hour bout of suffering and sickness , crawling up the hill to get help ....

I won't state that I 'woke up' because I'm not sure that I actually slept but at 7:00 am I got up , packed my things and started walking - I forced down an energy bar to give me something to work on even though the thought of food made me feel sick . That was all I ate in a 24 hour period till tonight .
I also forced some water down [ with purification tablets in it mind you ] because I knew my body needed it and was surprised that it stayed down .

I didn't need to force myself to admire the scenery of the morning - I wasn't that sick ....

It had taken me all of 10 minutes to start overheating with all my clothing on . There was frost on the ground but I had to strip down to shorts and a T-shirt [ the same smelly clothes from the day before
] to keep cool enough to walk comfortably .
I was surprised that I did ok , it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes of the rated 1 1/2 hours but mainly due to the fact that I was going uphill and couldn't slide my feet forward to hurt my toe and ankle . I think my right ankle was protesting about being twisted 3 times the day before , my upper thigh was now really complaining about the torn muscle and I had to help it up with my hand a few times .
There was ice on the ground in places ...

This is one of my favourite pictures because even though it is a slight downhill it looks like an uphill .


It was a huge feeling of relief to get back to the road again ...

Then there was this fear of " What if no cars come past [ 15 km walk into town ] , what if nobody stops to help me ?" .....

It was a very painful walk downhill for about two kilometres before I heard a car coming down the hill - it turned out to be the same car that went up as I emerged from the track . I put my thumb out and it didn't sound like he was slowing so I decided that for the next car I would lie across the road and they would have to stop .
But he did stop and I was shaking and falling over by then when I loaded my pack into his back seat . It wasn't the cold , I had put all my warm gear back on plus my wet-weather gear because of the icy wind and slow pace I was moving at . I think it was some sort of shock my body was going into because I was still like that an hour later .
I had been in this situation before on this road on my first 3 day attempt around the mountain that failed due to a heavy pack and not drinking enough water which caused my knee to ache ... only that time I hadn't gone down to the hut and back up again .

It was such an amazing relief to be back in a vehicle cruising down the road effortlessly ......

he dropped me in the middle of town next to a tour company that organizes transport for the Tongariro crossing . They told me the next trip to the village was late afternoon unless I was prepared to pay $60 for someone to return for a special trip .... I would have paid $500 happily just to get back to a greater sense of security .

I had gone into the cafe over the road and looking at all the food made me feel sick so I drank a coke which seems to be good medicine for stomach trouble [ and de-greasing engines ] .

I ate my first meal in 24 hours tonight and all seems to be ok apart form the slight nausea - hopefully I will get some sleep tonight !

Basically I told my workmates that I wanted some good old "blood and guts" adventure and I got it - whether it was being caught in a blizzard or simply getting sick from river water after noticing one toenail perched above two blisters that had to be popped independently [ I reckon it will fall off soon ] . I'll be sore for a few days but will look back on this adventure with great fondness in future
My father always told me that you forget a holiday when everything goes right but when things go wrong you at least have a story to tell .... well I reckon I have a good story to tell with this one !

Update : One month later on 'Star wars day ' [ May the Fourth be with you ] my one toe-nail fell out [ second toe ] , the next morning [ Revenge of the Fifth [groan]] the same one on the other foot fell out.

Update : 17 July 2010 , the two toenails are half grown back again .
September I hope to climb Ruapehu and sleep on top in a bivy bag and then my training will begin for 'round two' .

Notes to myself for next time :
1.) Don't wear such thick socks .
2.) Have some 'toe room' .... eventually went into R&R sport in Hamilton and got some professional advice and some decent footwear .
3.) Prepare for the 'chaffing'
4.) Think about a two day trip rather ?
5.) Go counter -clockwise so there is no escape route and the hard part is over with first .
6.) trim toe-nails .
7.) Go in the middle of summer for maximum daylight .
8.) Do some Carbo-loading
9.) Should I harden or soften my feet ? I've read varying opinions on this .

Heading for Ruapehu again .

27/03/2010 .... I'm busy preparing for a walk around Ruapehu in a few days [ 1/04/2010 ] . It is a 72km walk and I want to try and do it in one day .
 It will probably take me two days so I'll be prepared for an overnight stop at one of the huts but otherwise I'm going to give it my best shot !

2005/10/15 40km Kaimanewa walk

Three of us headed for the Kaimanewas for a 40km 'round trip' in October 2005 . We spent the night at the Sika Lodge in Clements Mill road . Lance offers 'drop offs' and 'pick ups' at the beginning and end of the tracks - aimed mainly at deer hunters .
Since I know him reasonably well he lent Wayne a rifle in case we saw deer .

We were dropped off at the end of Clements Mill road and headed for Cascade hut ....

Wayne with the "loaner' rifle and Jeremy with my machette .

The next morning we headed for the Kaipo saddle , this was going to be an easy 11km walk down to the footbridge and we were going to have a relaxing day fishing and taking pictures ..... hmmmmmmm !

We got to the top of the saddle reasonably easily - apart from the fact that a few trees with the orange marker arrows had fallen over and we went in the wrong direction a few times - until we twigged on to the fact that we should ignore arrows on fallen trees in future .

A  deer alert .....

At the top of the saddle we couldn't find the track .... the next 8km that was going to be such an easy 2 hour stroll to get us to our 'lunch stop' turned into a 6  hour battle through fallen trees and waterfalls .
The track had been washed away - long ago !

At one stage Jeremey slipped and fell , Wayne was going to help him up but I told him to wait till I got a 'snap' .

There seemed to be some sort of mineral seeping out of the ground ...

After 6 hours of battling we finally got to the footbridge .

And set up camp ......

The next morning we headed for the Oamaru hut , a popular place for hunters which has kennels as well for the hunters dogs . 

That turned out to be our relaxing day with a bit of fishing and swimming and sightseeing ....

The next morning , after listening to some 'hunters stories' from the others in the hut , we headed for the road to take us back . It was a bit foggy .....

We had to cross the river - the trouble is there were no markers showing where the track went from there ....

We spent the next few hours forcing our way through trees - the beginning of the rest of the path had not been properly marked and we eventually had to just check the map and aim northwest until we found a track .

In all it was another interesting adventure involving a few tumbles and scratched legs and wrong turns .... washed away tracks ..... my father once told me that when everything goes right you forget the trip - but when things go wrong you have a good story to tell - well this trip gave us a good story to tell ! 

Growing out of epilepsy .

I thought this might be encouraging for those who have to live with epilepsy .
It's been 10 years now since my last seizure - I appear to have grown out of it [ I'm 44 now ] . 
Just to confirm - 'epilepsy' is a very broad term describing regular convulsions and what works for one person does not necessarily work for another - and I'm no doctor but I can share what I know from experience .

Firstly , I experienced a lot of prejudice regarding the condition even though they are trying to create more awareness of it . Back in South Africa I was unemployed for 2 years and was turned away from 3 definite jobs because I hadn't done my military training due to the fact that the army wouldn't have me because of the epilepsy .  That was enough to scare anyone away from employing me even though I had a specialists letter stating that I could do any occupation I wanted since it was fully controlled on medication .

I was having ONE seizure a YEAR ! ..... in my sleep ! ... each new school year , with all the change , the stress caused a fit one night of the year and that prevented me from getting a job for two years after leaving school .
An EEG showed that my condition was not hereditary - probably from a [ one of many ] knock on my head as a child . 
I think I was about 13 when I had the first one in my sleep ... BUT : I had been having migraines for a few years already . One specialist suggested that a bad enough migraine could do enough damage to cause epilepsy but who knows ? One thing I do know is that I stopped having migraines when the epilepsy started and when I stopped taking my medication for a while I had one massive migraine and the fits returned .

Once on medication again [tegretol] it was ok but my concentration was impaired . 
When I moved to a different town [ from my hometown ] I started having fits every 6 weeks - in my sleep . Apparently my eyes started changing colour and my skin got a strange smell a few days before each episode . This carried on for the 7 years I lived there until I went onto the really strong medication [ Tegretol ]
[I moved to New Zealand 8 1/2 years ago  after being 'controlled' on the Tegretol for 18 months , much less stress here has helped ! ]
I hadn't had a fit for 5 years and stopped taking my medication [ for the second time ] - one night I had to work very late which messed up my sleep pattern for a few days .... 3 days after that I had my first migraine in 10 years which scared me ... besides the fact that it paralyzed my left arm , took away 90% of my eyesight and my speech for half an hour - the worst I've ever had . 
The fits never returned but the migraines did - now I just learn to eat properly , get regular sleep and don't eat a large bowl of ice-cream before going to sleep - or white chocolate ! .... all the things that triggered the epilepsy trigger migraines with me ...... I haven't had another one for three years now since I don't do any more late overtime at work .
Strangely , from the early years ,  the medication that agreed with me most was Epilim and this was used effectively to control my migraines as well - I stopped taking it a year ago now .
I believe it is the epilepsy and strong medication that affects my memory .... I'm a bit like a high speed computer with a small hard drive and not enough RAM . I used to get 100% for maths at school and 25% for history - all processing power with no memory .
I also have an active interest in photography and maintain a blog regarding my learning process .
I earn a living as an auto electrician and started another apprenticeship recently as a diesel fuel technician .
I'm not dumb but my memory is bad - still good enough to live normally but nothing like it could be .
In the mind :
Now on to some advice , as mentioned this may not work for everyone but it's worth thinking about .
As a child I could 'trigger' "deja vu" by concentrating on an object . It's really "temporal lobal partial dysplasia" - when your mind 'slips a gear' and what is going into your brain is already coming back out of your memory before you register that it is happening ... and you think " I've been here before - this has happened before " or " I dreamed this and  now it's happening ! " ..... it's just a glitch in your memory for a while and usually only happens to most people in a strange place when the mind is more active and more susceptible to instability .
People with epilepsy often have it just about anywhere at any time and when you think " I've been here before and this has happened before " you then think "of course I have , I'm lying in my room  so why do I feel like this? " .
Anyway I can no longer do this [ trigger it ] but simply talking about it to people , or writing a blog about it , usually means I will have a restless night's sleep with crazy dreams even if I've had no trouble for a year .... because you can trigger these things with your mind to a large degree .... and conversely control them by not dwelling on the subject too much !
I met someone a while ago with similar problems , he told me that he once had a fit while watching the sun go down and convinced himself it was the sunset that did it ... for the next few weeks he had a fit each time the sun went down .... he was triggering it in his mind !
Anyway I talked him into getting healthy , eating better and exercising more . We went for hikes in the mountains , he got fitter , ate healthier and eventually got his drivers license back because he never had a fit for 18 months ! . When I moved to another town he got out of shape again .. and started having fits again . That's a lesson in itself - regular exercise and good eating patterns can work wonders !
besides that if you have a problem with epilepsy simply sharing it with someone that has the same condition can work wonders on your mental well-being - simply knowing you are not the only one with the problem and your experiences aren't unique to you .
And , as mentioned , even though you can't necessarily fix the problem totally with your mind you can make things a bit more bearable by not dwelling on it too much to the point where you are actually creating more problems with your mind ... nobody needs to add to the problems epilepsy causes !
I was 'lucky' in that it was only in my sleep but sympathize with people still battling with the condition .
If you want to just talk about it feel free to contact me via my profile on the right :) .
Cheers , Desmond . 

2004/02 - Tongariro crossing helmetcam .

On Friday 26/02/2010 I got frustrated with 'routine' and decided to head for the Tongariro crossing since the weather was looking so good and there was a high pressure system moving over .
I decided to leave the big cameras behind and test out the gopro helmet cam .
Next time I will do slower videos for longer periods but I wasn't sure how long the battery would last .
It did well and I could have probably got 5X as much video footage ... next time .

The beginning :

I think they should organize the crossing to start from the other side , the lighting would be better .
They modified the "devils staircase" a few years ago , it used to be a pretty tough climb straight up the side of the hill but now it is a pretty well laid out pathway .

Once at the top of the staircase I headed for the climb up Nguaruhoe ....


And then took a Walk around the top ....

Going back down involved a bit of slipping and sliding and eventually running .

Then I headed for the Red crater and ran down to the Emerald lakes - and met a camera crew for TV1 on the way up , I was talking to one of them and then took off running up the hill and suddenly saw the other guy filming me .



Down at the emerald lakes a group of hut-wardens apparently take a boat up once a year to cruise around the lake .... I tested my camera's under-water ability as well and decided to go for a swim in the freezing water.

Then I headed back to the car park - the rest of the walk is mediocre compared to what I had seen and I've done it 3 times before , besides the fact that my van was back at the car-park ...

And the drive back to the camp ground near the Chatuea Tongariro

2005/03 Queenstown and Milford

New Zealand , Queenstown and Milford

In 2005 I bought my first D70 just before visiting the south island .
Patterns in the mud .

My first pictures were mainly snapshots ...

sound .

Some forest scenery ...

With 1500mm of rain per annum there are many waterfalls around milford ...

As I say , these were mostly snapshots with my first dslr .... [ some were taken with the Panasonic DMC-LC5 ]

This is "Paradise valley " , a few km from Queenstown .

Another one of Paradise valley .

In Queenstown itself ...

That's a triple storey boat next to that mountain ....

Autumn is a good time to visit Queenstown .

you can also cruise on the TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown ...

Deer heights Queenstown ..

one way street ?

The "remarkables " [ they run in a perfect north-south line ....

This was apparently a prop for a Disney movie a couple of years ago ...[ "the escape' or something like that ]

This is the 'road' to the beginning of the Milford track , only accessible by boat at both ends . More pictures of this track later ....

These were all taken with the DMC-LC5 , my hiking camera back then ...
The beginning of the track ..

In quite a few places the track is quite muddy so it has to be built up

There is plenty of strange fungus around ....

the first two days is a walk up a valley .

it's pretty wet with 1500mm rain per annum

The first two days were wet and the waterfalls were good . On the third day the clouds opened up and as we climbed to the top of the pass we had good scenery .


2003/10 Karamu walkway lesson .

One Saturday I phoned young Jeremy and asked him if he wanted to try the Karamu walkway at the top of the deviation heading for Raglan . 

I asked him if he had water and he told me that he didn't need water on a day trip . I told him he should carry some and he refused . I offered him my spare water bottle and insisted he carry it and he refused . I said to him " Ok , but don't ask to drink any of my water !" , he told me he wouldn't need to .... see where this is heading ??

It is also known as the "4 Brothers scenic reserve " .

We had made the false assumption that it was a loop track that would take us back to the car .... not so .
We had walked for about an hour when Jeremy asked for a drink of water .... I answered " But you don't need water on a day trip !? " .
Half an hour later he asked again and I said to him  " You told me you don't need water on a day trip !" , he said to me " I lied " - I told him "Now you're going learn what happens to liars  ..... if you don't carry your own water you endanger everyone else on a trip " ....

The second half of the walk has good scenery , after "old mountain road" , the bit before that isn't so good .

At this point I noticed Jeremy edging toward my pack .. and the water so I quickly grabbed it .

It was two hours now and we realized it wasn't a loop track and decided to keep going to the end of the road . Jeremy had started begging for water by this time . I told him " If you are on a trip with a group of people and don't carry water everyone suffers " , he told me "Ok I believe you , now give me some water " . I told him "No , you'll never learn to listen if you don't find out the hard way " [ since he argued so much in the beginning ] .


  I told him to go and drink some of that water - we had seen a dead cow nearby , and he refused . I showed him some cows footprints with water in them and said "there's some water " . He said " I'm not drinking that !" so I said to him " Then obviously you're not that thirsty '' and had a last mouthful out of my water bottle and slowly poured the last bit on the ground ....... 

We could see we were near civilization anyway .....

After about three hours we came to a stream - he asked if I thought it was safe to drink . I told him " Look at it this way - if you drink it and get sick you can take tablets later .... if you don't drink it and collapse I'm not carrying you home !"
You should have seen him dig in to that water !

Anyway we ended up on a farm road and found out that we had about 20 km to go to get back to the car . Eventually we found a  farm close to the road with some people at home - we were given some chocolate and orange juice [ quite a combination! ] . The guy there kindly gave us a lift back to our car and saved us about 15 km of walking ! 

Just for the record - ever since that walk Jeremy carries water with him , especially when he goes with me !

2006/12 - Ruapehu - round the mountain walk .

In December 2006 I decided to do the "Round the mountain " walk - 67 km around mount Ruapehu . 
It is rated as a 4-6 day walk but I was going to try for 3 days .
The walk from Whakapapa village to Waihohonu hut is rated at 5.5 hours  but is not all that interesting .

 In the distance you can see the lower Tama lake and Ngauruhoe as you head for the hut ...

 There is a side track to the historic "Old Waihohonu hut " along the way as well .

I carried on along the track to Rangipo hut rated at another 5 hours walk .

This is apparently the only desert area on the North Island .


Then you cross over the Tokino mountain road .


 When you walk through Whangaehu valley there are warning signs because it is a "Lahar hazard " area - one day they expect a mass of hot mud to come rushing down the valley .


That means hurry across this bridge !



and don't look down !

This area is very photogenic and I wouldn't mind spending more time here one day .

This looks like somebody pretty sad about losing someone ! I call it 'the pallbearer'

So at 4 pm I arrived at Rangipo hut .
 And settled in !

 At 8 pm the door opened and two people came in - it turned out they were doing the 24 hour challenge . They had started at 5 am and wanted to be back where they started by 5 am the next morning . Judging by the time they took they were only going at the rated times of a total of 30 hours around the mountain and I doubt they got back in time .
In the morning there was ice outside - it was a pretty cold night .

 But a good morning nevertheless .


So I started the 5 hour walk to Mangaeheuhu hut .

 Ruapehu was putting on a display for me !


Then the track went through some trees .....

 When I got to the hut it was only 9:30 am so I decided to keep moving .....



At this point my knee started hurting and I hadn't bumped it or anything . I had been overdoing it and not drinking enough water . I kept moving because there was another hut around the corner somewhere and then there was Ohakune mountain road which is a popular road to the Tukino ski field .

 It was now the second day and I had walked 50 km with a 25 kg pack full of emergency supplies and camera gear . My knee was hurting so bad I had to cut a branch into a crutch so I could walk properly . I had reached the road by this time and there were markers along the way - when I had gone another 5 km I got a lift into town . Next time I will go lighter - perhaps next December once the days have got longer again I will see if I can do it in 18 hours with a lighter pack . For now though there is still 20 km of track I haven't seen but I have some good memories !




2003/10 First Ruapehu climb .

During my first Tongariro crossing  I had mentioned climbing Ruapehu and someone convinced me to do a snow-craft course first . I did one and learned a lot [ basically that I would not have survived without it !] . I eventually bought some decent gear and contacted someone from the alpine club and told them that I would like to go with on their next climb . 
So it was eventually organized and three of us went up .
We spent some time practicing self-arrest techniques in case someone slipped on the ice .
I had done this a while before but also had to practice again for a while .
Then we started climbing .

 I had to keep stopping to wait for the slow-coaches to catch up .

It was a rather [thankfully ] uneventful climb and after about 3 1/2 hours we were at the top and went for a walk around the crater .

There's a hut on top - mainly for instruments to collect data to help predict eruptions . You are not really allowed to stay in it but it can be used for emergencies . But first you have to climb on the roof and find the top hatch when the front door is behind 5 feet of snow and ice .

The clouds started clearing which gave us some pretty good scenery



It's quite good being above the clouds and I'll be heading back there some time . We were pretty lucky with the weather - actually it was good weather on top but not so good down below when we headed back .

Looking through these old pictures makes me start wishing for winter again !

2003/04 First Tongariro crossing

The Tongariro crossing has got to be the best walk on the North Island ! 

Quote from the official site "  The Tongariro National Park is rich in cultural identity, it has dramatic scenery and unique land forms this combines to make the Tongariro Alpine Crossing a world-renowned trek.   (Rated as the best one day trek in New Zealand and listed by many in the top 10 day treks in the world) Many who complete the 19.5 kilometre journey will tell you the climbs can be steep and the  weather can be unpredictable.  You will need to arrange transport to the beginning of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track and a pick up at the end of the day." 
I think something like 70 000 people do it each year .

Recently they changed the name to the "Tongariro Alpine crossing " , adding the word "alpine" to help people understand that it can be dangerous and people have died up there from exposure . 

My first crossing involved first walking from the Chateaux to Mangetepopo hut which took 2 1/2 hours and had me starting about 15 minutes into the beginning of the track . In the picture at the top of this page you can see the little cluster of buildings where I started and then to the left is the hut along that black track which is close to the beginning of the walk [ at the end of that road on the left ] .

And the Mangetepopo hut

That night I told everyone I was going to wait for winter and then climb up one side of Ruapehu and down the other side . I was asked if I've walked in snow before and I said "Yes , back in South Africa I walked in 4 inches of snow " . I was finally convinced by one of them to do a snowcraft course  which I thankfully did .

I had walked past the Taranaki falls which was about the only thing worth seeing along that first track through the 'foothills' .

In the morning I couldn't get my camera to work properly and thought it had something to do with altitude or cold until I realized that I had left it in a manual setting - so the first hour and a bit was not recorded [ see the later trips for decent pictures ] .
When I got to the top of the 'devils staircase' [ which has been modified recently ] things were very misty .

That's a view looking back to the top of the first climb when you start walking across the crater .
  Then you start climbing to the Red Crater - this time it was through the mist .

After the Red Crater you work your way down to the emerald lakes .

As I kept moving it was so misty that I never even noticed Blue lake when I walked past it - I have pictures of it in my later expeditions , including some in the snow . 
After the Blue lake you start working your way down to the Ketetahi hut .

The scenery is quite good there but the walk down that hill is long and tedious . It is a total of 19.5 km long but that last bit gets you - steps and downhill for 1 1/2 hours [ Last time I ran it in 48 minutes but I had a 15 kg pack ]

You go past the Ketetahi springs on the way down - don't drink that water . You are also not allowed near the springs , it is Maori land .
Going back through the bush can be pleasant after a hot day on top , but makes no difference on a misty day .
When you get to the end there is a shelter as you wait for the buses to arrive . All around the area in just about every town there is an outfit offering transport for the Tongariro Crossing - they drop you off in the morning and then start arriving from around 3 pm to collect you . Since it was rated at 5-7 hours I did it in a hurry and got to the end in 3 1/2 hours and ended up having to wait for quite a few hours for the bus to arrive .

As the day wears on the bodies start lining up under the shelter .

Back then there was still a guy in an old truck that used to turn up and sell hot dogs and coffee and cool-drinks and pies and the people all swarmed toward him as he popped out the sign advertising food . Apparently he was told he couldn't do it any more but it sure was handy !