Archive for August, 2007

Red Moon

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

On the night of 28th August 2007, my wee bro’s birthday coincidentally, there was an eclipse of the moon visible from NZ. I took a few photos up to almost the full eclipse when the clouds scudded in and obscured the event. Here’s a nice pic’ of the near eclipse.

Red Moon

It was pretty cool to watch!

A Big Mountain – Kaweka

Monday, August 27th, 2007

On Sunday past I headed off reasonably early to the foot of the Kaweka Range. When I rose the sun was just rising and there was a pretty hard frost outside, -2 or so, as hard as it gets in coastal Hawkes Bay. After chucking a few things in a bag, I headed a couple of hours inland. The sun fully up revealed a cloudless sky with the usual warming sun and little or no breeze. I stopped on the way to the carpark at a viewpoint and took this pic of the Kaweka Ridge.

Kaweka Ridge

I got to the carpark and put on my boots and looked at the map. The carpark is around 900m and the top of Kaweka J (junior I think, but turned out to be higher than North Kaweka by about 20m) is about 1725m, no easy stroll. The weather forecast was fine with any wind dropping away and bright sunny conditions. What the hell, lets go for it! I set off to see how far up Kaweka J and possibly North Kaweka I could go.

The first bit was an easy climb, but after a k’ or so I realised I was on the wrong path due to the signage being a bit confusing. I was on the right ridge and had followed the right signs, but was on the harder of two spurs with the guide book not mentioning the easier spur by its name. Looking at the map and up the ridge I was on, I decided to continue. After a good old slog up about 400m with some scrambling over scree and a couple of craggy outcrops my spur joined the main spur. After a wee rest I pushed on up the next 150m or so up to the Dominie Bivouac.

North Kaweka beyond the Dominie Bivouac

Another rest and it was starting to get cold. I had been in shorts and teeshirt ’til then, only cold when occasionally exposed to the wind on the ridge. I was also well into the snow by now. The last big climb took me around the South side of the ridge (S. hemisphere, sun free side) and I crossed a couple of wee snow fields. The clincher was one about 20-30m across. I couldn’t see what was below it (could have been a long drop and a real short stop) and there were no steps across it. Without walking sticks, crampons or an ice-axe – and alone and not having given anything other than a vague plan to my neighbours – I decided not to risk it and turned back. Annoying as I was only 100m or so in height and 1km distant from Kaweka J after slogging up about 700m. Mind you, my legs were like jelly when I got back to the carpark.

I had earlier seen signs to ‘Hot Springs’ and given my tired legs I decided to go and check them out and maybe have a bit of a soak. On reaching the main road, which quickly turned to gravel, it was a good half hour drive to the Mangatutu Hot Springs. Again, only two cars there. On the way down to the spring I passed a couple heading back up the track, but not another soul in sight. At the bottom of the path DOC have kindly built a wooden platform with a fibreglass pool to soak in. It looks out over the mighty Mohaka River – a very cool spot. With nobody around I took a risk and skinny-dipped in the pool. Very pleasant! After about half an hour I got out and sat in the warm sun and warm breeze until I was dry and could get dressed. I hadn’t planned coming here and hadn’t packed a towel or spare clothes. Back home in Scotland this place would have been mobbed, so it was awesome to have most of an hour of relaxation with no disturbance in amongst the ferns, native shrubs and the towering introduced gum trees.

Note to self – perhaps be less ambitious when you haven’t climbed a mountain for a year or two! Boy are my legs sore today!

New ve-hicle

Monday, August 27th, 2007

I have recently acquired a new (to me) vehicle. It’s a 1981 Range Rover in remarkably good condition. In Scotland it would be dead from salt corrosion. Apart from light surface rust in places it’s solid.

1981 Range Rover

I bought it down in Nelson on the South Island. Having spoken to the owner a couple of times on the phone it was clear he was/is a bit of Range Rover nut and had spent most of what I paid for it in the preceding couple of years – with receipts. So, I took a punt on the understanding that if I found anything seriously expensive I could back out of the deal.

So, a few Saturdays ago, I took the early flight, 5 a.m. start, from Napier to Nelson. On airpoints, so didn’t hurt at all. The owner picked me up at the airport and I drove back to his house. It is in good nick as had been described and drove well. I believe the 165,000kms as the wear on the pedals is not severe. My only grouch would have been the tyres, but the owner had already dropped the price considerably after getting no interest (Nelson isn’t near anywhere and it’s on the South Island, inconvenient for most people) and I didn’t have the heart to haggle when I was getting a bargain. So the deal was done and, after picking up a box of spares and a Haynes manual, I set off for Picton and the ferry, an hour and half’s drive or so.

Approaching Havelock, the original – not Havelock North where I live, the oil pressure went off the gauge. Not low as you might expect with an old vehicle, but high pressure!? The engine was still pulling fine, the temperature fine, so I put it down to a faulty sensor and carried on. Since then it seems to have recovered – fingers crossed!

So, across on the ferry. Food approximate to Cal-Mac standard which is disappointing, must be something about ferries.

Headed straight up the road from Welly with a brief stop in Woodville for fuel and a sandwich. I got home just in time to watch the All Black beat the Crim’s.

A 16 hour adventure and a new vehicle. Average fuel consumption of a little better than 15mpg (not too painful when fuel costs less than half the UK price).

OK, got it!

Friday, August 17th, 2007

OK, my wee bro’ just prompted me that I haven’t updated my blog for a while – quite right!