Archive for October, 2007


Packing List for Milford Track

October 30, 2007   

I carried a 75litre backpack with the following items.
Cooking Pots
lightweight eating utensils
Plastic water bottle (used as a hot water bottle and a mug)
Sleeping bag
Shirts: Poly T-Shirts 2 long sleeve
Fleece: Lightweight Longsleeved Fleece Pull-over
Thermal Shirt: Longsleeved Thermal Top
Mini First-Aid Kit (moleskin & ibuprofin)
Matches and a Lighter (for lighting the stoves in the huts)
Whistle, Space Blanket
Ear Plugs (people snore!)
Pack of cards for in the hut
Longjohns: I never got cold enough to wear them
Underwear: 4 pairs
Rain Gear: I took my Musto foul weather gear and was totally dry.
Gaiters: Knee-high, cheap set (next time I wouldn’t take a set)
Lightweight fleece hat
Rain hat
Bug repellent (take lots the sandflies are nasty)
Zip-Lock Baggies for everything you don’t want to get wet and for carrying out garbage
Bio-Degradable Dish Soap (though the huts all had plenty)
Scrub Pad for Cook Kit (1/3 of a sponge with a scrub top – again the huts all had plenty)
Toliet Paper (the huts had them as did all the toilets along the track)
Hiking shoes (it is necessary to have Vibram soles (stiff) I prefered these over my full hiking boots.)
Sandals (for huts and stream crossings)
Hiking Socks (4 pairs as they get wet and don’t dry)
Salopettes (I took my quick dry mid layer sailing salopettes and they were great for hiking in)
Loose fitting quick drying shorts
Gloves: Windstopper Fleece (didn’t use them even in the snow over the pass)
One large emergency meal (just in case you have an extra day on the track like we did)
Next time I would take fresh ingredients for the 1st nights meal as the walk into the first hut is only an 1.5 hour stroll.
If you don’t have a rain cover which I didn’t make sure everything is doublebagged in black plastic bags in fact even with a rain cover this is a good idea.

Tongariro, Taupo and Rotarua

October 23, 2007   


On Sunday I drove Annabelle to Hamilton after the night at Waitomo as the bus trip to Raglan would have taken all day. Then back to Waitomo to pick up Lisa and on to Tongariro National Park where we were going skiing. It was the last weekend the slopes were meant to be open however, a quick look at the morning ski report showed rain not snow so we took our time getting there stopping at Rapid Canoe Hire a family run business just off HW 4 near Taumarunui. We rented a two person canoe for the afternoon and went over 5 or so rapids down the Whanganui River. The owners of the canoe hire drove our car down river meeting us at a road bridge – we took the car and headed south to Tongariro and they took the canoe and headed to their next meeting point further down river with the people who had spent all day on the river.


The canoeing was fun and reminded me of my school trip on the Ardeche River in France. Lisa was in the front and I steered sometimes more successfully then others through the rapids. It was sometime a challenge as it was quite windy so when it came to lining the canoe up to go down a rapid you had to take the nose off the wind at the right time requiring watching the gusts etc. At one rapid I could tell we were possibly going to lose it so I did a three point turn purposely grounding the front of the canoe in a gravel island then ending up going backwards and turning to exit going forwards! Another time we ended up doing a similar maneuver however, this time not on purpose – a little rusty on the canoeingJ. There were large amounts of pumice stone floating down the river so we collected pieces of the rock to put in people’s Christmas stockings!


We got to the ski slopes at Whakapapa Village in time for some snow tubing and after checking into Skotel (the highest hotel in NZ) just behind the beautiful Grand Chateau we went for a short but beautiful walk to build up an appetite. The national park has three volcanoes which are active hence the brochures and wall posters telling you what to do in the event of an eruption – Mt Ruapehu last erupted in 1995. Next time I am in NZ I think I will tramp the Tangariro Northern Circuit a 5 or 6 day walk amongst beautifully colored volcanic lakes. 


We hoped to do the Tangariro crossing the next day (Monday – a bank holiday in NZ) but the fog was dense and it was raining and blowing hard in the morning so we got in the car and drove till we found good weather at Lake Taupo. A short stop at Huka Falls where the water has carved a cleft in the rock and the water is beautifully clear and turquoise. Stopped along the road at the Bee Hive a store where you can taste different honeys just like wine tasting. Next time I come to Taupo I am going to bring my fly fishing rod and have a go at catching the world famous trout. Next stop was Orakei Korako ‘the place of the adorning’ one of the finest thermal areas of NZ it is relatively remote and therefore not packed with people. To get over to the thermal valley you take a ferry across Lake Ohakuri. There is a walking track taking you around large, colorful silica terraces, geysers and a magnificent nature cave with a pool of jade green water.


Onto Rotorua a very touristy town built in the crater of a volcanoe and the area of the most energetic thermal activity in the country. We had a picnic lunch next to Lake Rotorua and visited Ohinemutu ‘the place of the young woman who was killed’ a lakeside Maori village. There is a small historic church – St Faiths’ Anglican with beautifully decorated interior of Maori carvings, stain glass windows and painted scrollwork. Also a large meeting house built in 1887 which was unfortunately closed up however; we peeked through a hole in one of the windows.


The Bath House is a Tudor style building built in 1908 and it is set amongst very English style croquet lawns and rose gardens in the Government Gardens. We spent as long as possible in the museum there was a particularly interesting exhibit about the Maori Battalion that participated in WWII. We joined in on part of a guided tour led by a lady whose great grandfather was a mediator between the Maoris’ and Europeans casting a more personal light on some of the exhibits which were actually given to the museum by her family. More time was needed here but we had a long drive back to Auckland for work the next morning.

Caving in Waitomo


By Annabelle Booth

I have had a few exciting trips around the North Island with my friend Ashley.

Last week-end was a national holiday so we took a trip to Waitomo Caves which is a natural limestone cave complex.   The latent geographer in me was very excited by the caves!  We donned wetsuits, helmets and abseiling gear and then took a 4 hour caving trip.  I have never abseiled before so it was interesting doing it in the dark, through gushing rainfalls and against rock wall, which sometimes seemed to disappear from under my feet….   There are lots of glow worms in the caves- they are very cool creatures who burn more brightly they hungrier they are.  I enjoyed it but it was pretty scared at times.  We also managed to get lost down there!  The guides directed us and said they would meet us further on and  we missed the blindingly obvious turn and continued merrily through the cave!  Luckily, we soon realised we had made a massive wrong turn and retraced our steps…. 

I have all my fingers and toes crossed that we will not get lost this week-end- rather unexpectedly I have a ticket to walk the Milford Trek, a four day walk which involves 3 nights staying in a mountain hut!  It is meant to be an absolutely beautiful walk but it is going to be hard  walking plus it will be very wet and cold and we have to carry all our stuff.  We are flying down to Queenstown and then taking a bus to the start of the walk.  I am excited but also a little nervous especially as the weather has been terrible on the South Island.  They have had 2 earthquakes in the last 4 weeks, avalanches, gale force wind- it is certainly going to be an interesting trip! The huts also have rangers who help you along the way and ensure everyone is ok. 

After the trek, we are going to travel back to Queenstown and drive to Christchurch.  Along the way we will visit Milford Sound, the glaciers, Mount Cook and Geraldine (a small Canterbury village).   i can’t wait to hit the South Island as everyone says that it is really beautiful and is the real NZ.