Whose idea was this anyway

“Have we fully understood that the respect for oneself is never gained by the contempt for others?” Joseph Monod

Finally stopped raining after Christmas and beautiful on morning of Boxing Day. Very rude awakening by alarm clock at 6 am. I do not do alarm clocks as usually up by that time anyway. But this is our one scheduled event in our entire New Zealand trip, so do not want to miss the boat.

Arrived at assigned location but could not figure out how to pay for long term parking so went and parked on street. Made the boat by 9 and a great trip down Marlborough sound to ship cove. What is not to like about a boat trip, even if the speakers explaining whatever, were bad. But saw some king shags enroute, these shags residing only around here and only about 400 left. Fun trying to identify seabirds but pretty bad at it without someone to direct.

But arrived at ship cove where captain cook and the endeavour spent time, and the endeavour replica spent time here.

Captain cook memorial ship cove

Then we hiked uphill and a bit of mud remaining from Christmas rains. But all good and sunshine. Wonderful forest of tree ferns, native beech, Kamari, and the giant rimu.

A walk in the woods
Marlborough sound views

Made around resolution bay and into endeavour inlet looking for our lodge. Had once again no idea what we were into. We wanted a track in New Zealand because I guess that is what one does. There are 10 official great tracks, but when we were looking in August very difficult to arrange. As most were fully booked, crowded and require permits reservations, etc years ahead. But Marlborough sound also fit the bill and we found a guide service. We chose independent travel, but they make the arrangements (boats, water taxis, lodging, carry our gear between lodges, and provide lunch every day.) beyond that we had no idea although eventually I checked the route and needed equipment. Our route followed a ridge between Queen Charlotte sound and Kenepuru sound.

Route map

But our first day we began to ponder lodging. Bunk beds, a backpackers hostel, ???? There were about 10 of us signed up for trek. Kids, families a variety mostly from Europe and a couple from Australia.

The guide service gave us a briefing before departure put us on boat and said have a good time. “call if you need us” we could buy breakfast and dinners at the lodge.

We arrived about 3 pm at Furneaux lodge, 20 meters off trail, and it was very nice. Big porch large yard, but reception attendant was away so we went to bar for a needed beer.

Furneaux lodge
Furneaux cabin

Our lodging was cabin number 6 with 4 rooms a kitchen, deck and wondrously luxurious. I could live with it. Dinner we scheduled for 7:30. Our bags were waiting in our room.

Day 2 was an dry one with very little elevation gain walking the edge of endeavour bay and big bay. Supposedly 12 kilometer. As most places in the world the land goes right down to the water where tide goes in and out so this route cannot continuously go along a beach, but this day a short bit inland. Again awesome forest.

Departed late about 10 lounging in the luxury. We knew in August reservations had been difficult and some friends had said punga lodge was wonderful, but it was booked solid so we were 500 meters farther down the trail, which had been washed out in rains. Again were we to be in some bunkhouse with cans of beans for dinner and breakfast. We had to go through the lawn area of punga lodge and people are out lounging on bean bags soaking up sunshine. Jealous, Jeanne wanted to stop for a beer, I wanted to get to our lodge, stop for the day and put down my 3 kg day pack.

We managed through the track arriving at Mahana and walked to reception. A delightful character introduced himself as Dave and said he would take care of registration later after we sat and had a cold one first.

Upward view
Mahana lodge

eventually David took us to the lodge and showed us our room the captain cook suite.

Captain cook room

again our bags were sitting in our room.

Then off to the beach. Jeanne discovered the kayaks and was in heaven. I said I wanted a picture but she was gone delightfully paddling along. I went for a swim. We laid out a bit and reflected on our good fortune.

Jeanne kayaking punga cove
View back to Mahana lodge
Relax after short day

Dinner was at 6:30 and served family style. David was the cook while the French couple Ben and millie served us. There we 10 of us and a delightful 2 1/2 hour 4 course meal. Salad picked from garden that day, whitefish (a New Zealand fish) and lamb. A bit of effort but managed to stay up until dark at 9 pm for a walk to view the glow worms. Again awesome. Would have a picture but all it would show is a cutback next to a stream. But in the dark it was a veritable city of lights.

White fish
Lamb and potato

Then day 3 the supposed “big day”. 23 kilometers and we were on the trail before recommended 8 am again climbing to high spot on trail of 475 meters descending again and climbing again. Wondrous views but the day drug on. Whose idea was this anyway? What made us think a couple of old farts could do this. By the end of day we were beat. I have done longer but this one got me. Why was this doing me in.

Ok my theory goes along with the Big Bang theory and an expanding universe. When I was about 22 years old (which I cannot figure out how long ago that was) I did a 30 mile hike (about 50 kilometer). Now a 25 kilometer is kicking my butt. The only explanation I can come up with is an expanding universe. As the universe expands relative distances will stay the same- that is a kilometer is still a kilometer as it is relative to everything around it which has also expanded. Hence the 30 miles I did some 48 years ago was actually much shorter than the 25 kilometers which was killing me. Any astronomy nerds out there could use this I am sure to measure time and the expansion of the universe. I explained this to Jeanne and she rolled her eyes. Ok you try and live inside my head and come up with an explanation for being tired.

Queen Charlotte sound

Made it to portage lodge, barely able to descend the last kilometer of paved road and the gruesome 6 step entry to lodge. The printed guide gives distances on trail not the kilometer distance for lodge off trail. We had done it in 9 hours which actually felt ok as stated time was 8 hours plus breaks. We arrived at 5.

Jeanne got the beers and I dealt with Tee who was the most pleasant receptionist I think I have ever met. She was dealing with some folks who were having Expedia problems. Never go with a third party booking. She dealt with them and checked us in. We hobbled to room and a delightful shower. Wanted to go to beach but alas legs declined the opportunity. We made it to a wondrous seafood and lamb barbecue dinner, after which we managed the 50 meters to beach, then room and sleep. The next day was an allotted 21 kilometer to the finish at Anakiwa and scheduled water taxi at 3:30.

gone by 8 worried about making water taxi at 3:30 thinking of day before. But somehow overnight we had gotten in shape and cruised along through delightful forests, accompanied by sounds of bell birds, numerous other unidentified birds and crickets. Views out over Marlborough sound and people boating all over

Grove arm
11 k to go

Tree fern

Made Anakiwa by 2 an hour shorter than stated time and felt great. Went for a swim and made the 30 minute boat ride back to Picton.

A delightful dinner in town joined by a couple who had immigrated here from South Africa 15 years ago. A wondrous time

A few thoughts on New Zealand. A good feeling to have the indigenous people maori part of culture. Most information signs are in both English and local language and history includes the locals. Definitely the mauri had to fight to maintain their rights as original inhabitants, but they were accepted. Not the usual, you are not doing what we think should be done with the land, so we are taking it.

And no tipping in New Zealand. A welcome relief. A friend from australia told me it is management job to provide a living decent wage to workers, not the customer. What a concept.

and interesting the attempts to stop invasive. Here on this track it is the pine tree which they poison and cut down. Invasive are a problem here as little defense. Birds are friendly coming right up to you. Interesting

time to move on

Xmas 2018

Remember that you are never alone in your pain, and that everything is temporary. Pain, joy, elation, panic, anxiety, it is all temporary. Be grateful for the experiences that continue to build character, and make you who you are.

Khloe Kardashian

After a delightful visit with Zak & Natasha, and a short wondrous visit to Rotorua we began the 450 kilometer drive to Wellington. Definitely not a high speed divided freeway autobahn. Did the drive in about 7 1/2 hours enjoying some desert scenery, winding roads, snowy mountains and views of sheep on pastoral green hills.

As per usual with our travels we have troubles establishing a reservation for a nights stay as leaves the options open. New Zealand, and I believe Australia too, have an app called CamperMate which shows campgrounds for selfcontained and not self contained as well as gas stations, information, points of interest. You can even put in “lord of the rings” and sites will show. We use that and on arrival discovered a few sites, opting once again for the top10 holiday park. Our third one and have all been good. One cannot just “free camp” unless it says so. (A self contained camper van is certified and must be self support for a minimum of three days, toilet, water, etc)

Again we went to the camper park kitchen as most people do for meals. Stove, electricity, water cleanup provided. One just brings utinsils, food, and smiles. Very civilized. Sometimes one eats there, or sometimes take your food and such back to van.

Jeanne prepping dinner
Jeanne & J. R. Post drive and walk
Evening walk in huff valley across from Wellington
Appetizers before dinner with admiring friends

A wondrous beautiful sunset and sleep.

Sunset Wellington

We awoke Christmas Eve with time to kill before the ferry to South Island at 1:30 pm so drove about for a view and walked the beach.

View above huff valley toward Wellington
Departing ferry

A walk about the town of Picton and decided on a Christmas meal out. A couple of good looking restaurants and opted for one. Great meal of Calamari appetizers and a prawns and salmon pizza. Oh my gosh with ice cream and cake for desert.

Arriving Picton
Irish pub libations

A friend from Australia told me her Xmas tradition was to be with family. They take the lawn chairs go out and sit in the creek and drink beer. Temp is usually around 40 (104F) so sounded good to me. Sound like something to emulate. During the night Jeanne awoke me to say the wind was blowing, I replied it was not wind only turbulence from Santa’s sleigh. We awoke in the morn to pouring rain and wind, which has continued all day.

Laundry, cleanup, organize and prep for the one scheduled event we have this entire trip. A 4 day trek of 72 kilometers along Marlborough sound.

Christmas bread (someone else’s) Austrian
Christmas morn
Christmas morn in our van with Christmas tree

Thus far a great Christmas although no creek to sit in. (Also temp is 18 (about 65))

and the rain continues although forecast says decreasing this evening.


Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning to dance in the rain.

Poster somewhere

Onto to Matamata through Auckland, which sits directly across the north island so one must go through Auckland to get south. But minimal problem except congestion. Met Zak and Natasha at camper van park at appointed time, then soaking in pools.

Opal springs pool

All relaxed we headed to hobbiton, the movie set where “lord of the rings” the shire parts were filmed. They destroyed it after filming but owners of land rebuilt partly as a tourist site then when the hobbit trilogy was made rebuilt and kept. We we a bit concerned would be touristy and weird and that was reinforced when we boarded a tour bus thinking we would just drive around and look , but arrived a parking area and unloaded.

We then proceeded to walk through the shire. Awesome. We learned how filming was done with 3 feet tall hobbits and nearly 7 feet tall gandolf (perspective and distance). The tree above bag end where bimbo and Frodo live is a fake metal, styrofoam and 200,000 leaves hand painted in Taiwan and repainted here when wrong shade of green did not meet peter Jackson standards.

That is a fake tree
Bag end
Shire from the green dragon
Green dragon

After the tour met at the green dragon tavern and beer was distributed as part of tour. Then back on bus and return to car park. Wondrous!

back to camperpark and celebrate the solstice


then the 75 kilometer to Rotorua, where there is a thermal area fault line across the country. 5% of the New Zealand Power comes from thermal and I suspect from this area.

Initial reaction of rotarura is a very nice location, very much a tourist town, and very capable of extracting money from tourists. Everything was a tour or experience. Zip line, hangglide, guided walks, Mauro cultural exhibits. We just want to hike about.

Jeanne read in a lonely planets the museum was good but discovered the building built in 1916 was condemned 2 years ago after an earthquake.

But there is a redwood forest which we managed to find although gps took us to the wrong side of forest. You can pay $30 to take an elevated boardwalk, but we chose to just walk the numerous trails. Great place and supposedly some of the best mountain biking.

Natasha with red wood tree
Redwood tree

Redwood sprouts

The Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest
Champagne pool
Oyster pool
Zak & champagne pool
Devils pool

Mud pots

Top 10 holiday camp rotarura

Head south on north island

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

John Muir

Somehow it seemed we had two weeks to explore the north island, from the 12 December until the 26 when we begin our one scheduled event, a trek on South Island. Not enough time to see and do it all. One must realize this and enjoy what one does, not lamenting what one does not do but revel in what one does.

Hence a delightful time at Martin bay camper park, a secluded bay just 60 kilometer north of Auckland. First glance coming down the hill was oh my this is crowded, but worked out nicely. For $2.00 more received a site near beach. Friendly families all about and a superb beach.

Then on to Matamata where the Hobbiton Movie Set is. Signed up again with low expectations but many said it is a must see. Yes it is. As one visitor said nice to see the set rather than an amusement park. Let’s you know the incredible amount of labor which goes into a movie.

Normally a set is destroyed when done but here the owners of the sheep farm have kept it going as a tourist attraction. Great fun and I must see the movies again for the unknowth time.

New Zealand in the short time I have been here has impressed me. Getting around relatively easy with a car, roads are not high speed although speed limit is usually a 100 kph and I can barely do that on the winding no shoulder roads. Only a few divided highways. Usually for Jeanne and I 400 miles (about 600 k) is a long day. Our longest day here is 270 kilometers (about 170 miles or 8.75010406395254E-12 parsecs).

Driving is getting easier although yesterday I did my first drive down the right side of road. Turned left onto side road and instinctively went to right, then realized mistake before Jeanne had caught it. No one or cars were on the road so no problem.

Did talk with one fellow about where energy comes from. New Zealand still has 3 coal plants built in the 1970’s and are approaching end of their life span. “They” are hoping to achieve 100% renewable in the not too distant future. Solar, wind, thermal and hydro. Interesting as have seen none of those or rare on a small scale.

and of course not all good. Every parking lot says lock car. Our friends van broke into and clothes and computer stolen. Arghh. Everywhere has good and bad.

Night of the mozzies

“So strange that people often believe things inversely proportionate to the evidence. Given a set of possible explanations, why pick the extremely unlikely one!?”

Elon Musk

Departed Auckland although seems a nice enough city but want to get out, so start our voyage heading north. Driving ok but still scary.

250 kilometers arrived at a state conservation area and campground. Trounson Kauri park next to the Waipoua Forest and home to the Kauri trees, said to be second largest trees in world by trunk size. Beautiful trees but endangered by fungus, trampling and people. Requires cleaning of feet for fungus.

Dogs are strictly forbidden not even on leash. One local dog was tracked and killed half of the 250 remaining kiwis in the forest.

The forest itself was awesome as a sub tropical forest is. I knew none of the trees, plants, bugs, birds and the interpretive signs were written in poetry.

Then that night we had heard this was a good place for a night forest walk hopefully to see kiwis, snails, and glow worms. Departed at dusk, using ourselves as guides, it quickly became dark. We missed the sign to sign up for an interpretive walk so we’re on our own. Then missing a turn on return and starting over came to two overturned trees with root balls showing. They looked like a star lit night. We blasted the area with our lights and only saw the dirt on tree ball, but when turned off and in the dark the stars returned. Bioluminescence! Dozens and dozens of lights per tree. Amazing.

No kiwis or snails.

Then on to Cape Reinga the farthest north point in New Zealand, and another conservation campground. Great place in totopauna bay. Found a great spot a hundred meters up valley from the bay being still affected by tide. Walked the beach then up a short distance on the coastal trail. This trail can be a 3-5 day hike about the entire cape. Return to camp thinking of a swim in water by camp but the tide was out. A great dinner, and starting placing chairs on grass next to beach and enjoy the darkening sky. A great camp and a great day.

Trounson Bay with camp

Back of spaceship

Cooking at back of camper van from “spaceship”

I noted the people next to us applying big dope, then noted a mosquito then more mosquitos and noted the wind had quit. Both Jeanne and I scrambled into the van, which in the few minutes since we first noted mosquitos were now thick inside. We thought we knew mosquitos in Alaska but this was something new. From none to horrendous in minutes. Misery. Jeanne began the battle on one area and I on another to rid them, but we made no headway in diminishing there numbers inside the van. After 5-10 minutes of frantic activity we were making no progress and I remembered I had opened all windows just a few centimeters for the heat and ventilate. Arghhhh.

I scrambled once again to find keys to start the car to be able to power close the windows.

You could hear the whine of the mozzies everywhere. Not just in your ears but everywhere. I gave up and dived under the covers and began to sweat. Jeanne was not going to quit though, continuing battle after battle, until she too was exhausted (or maybe drained of blood).

In the morning I awaited until sun up and could not hear the whine which had quit sometime during the night. They were gone. I proceeded with my morning coffee and enjoying the morning.

As we saw other people in campground they commented on the attack. Seems everyone had the same effect.

The white padded ceiling of van is not a mess of the battles fought. Going to be a problem cleaning this up.

Then on to Sand dunes, and a drive to Russell next to bay of islands, where Jeanne visited 30 years ago.

this writing has been a bit of an adventure trying to figure out how to put in a different area and did not go through. Oh well. And trying to figure out a new area. Always an adventure.

New Zealand proving as awesome as we have heard. But too little time and way too much to do. I am only asking to see and do all on new Zealand in 6 weeks. I can see now I am doomed to failure.

Auckland, New Zealand

Set your mind on fire and see where it leads you…..collect all the tools of expression, feed on books, culture, languages, art, dance….the world is so full of interesting everything….keep learning. I intend to die full of … music and dreams.

Pamela Anderson

3 hours to Seattle, 1 hour layover, 2.5 hours to Los Angeles, 7 hours layover, then 13.5 hours flight time to Auckland. Leave Wednesday morn at 6 am arrive Friday morn at 9:30. But the good part was the long flight prompted very good posture as no room to slouch in the seat as my knees hit the seat in front, requiring sitting very upright. 3 movies, 2 meals, a few hours of sleep and when the daylight returned awesome views of the South Pacific. Only island I saw was part of Samoa but clouds amazing

First impression is customs and always scares me. Somehow they always seem to pick me out, and do to being an island New Zealand is very strict on its importation. We had washed our packs, cleaned shoes etc. they inspected all and began a conversation with us. Generally a rule never converse with customs, but here everyone was friendly and helpful. A quick glance at our gear and then a 10 minute conversation about wonders of the world.

Then pick up our “spaceship” rental van. That was again fun spending a couple hours talking and laughing with the folks, while they explained the intricacies of the van. And installing new SIM cards in phones. That is always a challenge but much easier here due to language is English.

Then the year challenge – teaching an old dog a new trick. Driving on the left. Instinct of 50 years says if in doubt go right. Scary turning right and wanting to go to right side of traffic island, but the number of cars approaching there says no. Simple stuff but the quick instinctive reactions are scary. Try to avoid.

Jeanne and I had quite some marital disharmony with her navigating and me driving, but seemed to survive. Getting better and even able to look around a bit now.

Met our friends Zak and Natasha at campground. They promoted this trip with coming down here to work for a year. We figured we best go visit. They just arrived a week ago being delayed a couple months due to a broken leg. Alas. Great to meet up.

Auckland seems like a nice town although ready to get out of city. Spending two nights so we can learn the van, learn driving in traffic and generally organize our life.

thus far have managed to set off car alarm in car park after most had gone to bed. In the morning could not get out of car due to child lock on door and afraid to move due to fear of setting off alarm at 6 am

We did go to the museum and learned much of history, natural wonders, and the many wars New Zealand has been in. Seems War is an adventure for many and one feels a devotion to ones country for whatever reason. But as Bruce Springsteen said blind allegiance can get you killed.


and in to the north

Reflections on cross country

I feel I need to reflect on the past 2 months of travel across north america.  (Well, almost two months, and almost cross country as never actually saw Atlantic Ocean)

When Jeanne and I started talking about the trip and we decided to do it, logistics discussions start in real quick.  It was obvious to fly to the east coast with bikes and do the trip, renting car from Albany to visit friends, then bike as we did to Washington D. C., but J. R. thought why not enjoy the area between.  Skipping over all that country just seems wasteful.  (Never mind reality) I checked on train which would be fun but several days and expensive.  Why not drive?  Jeanne immediately said no – she is not into road trips as much as I am.  But after she thought about it why not.  We could ride bikes a bit every day, and carry all our stuff ( more than we would ever carry on bike), so she said yes.

Well did not work out exactly as planned as more cold, rainy, and we forgot it gets dark early this time of year and camping would be 12 hour nights.  We are spoiled in Alaska with camping – no dark.

Now that the trip is almost over my thought is “It is easier to think about driving cross country than actually driving cross country”.  Duh!!!!

But it has been awesome.  Got to see places one would normally just fly over and not realize it is home and happiness to a lot of people. It is good to see that.  These places makes the world tick.

Biking was fun, although flat, but that presented different challenges.  Mud, rain, carrying minimal amount.  It worked.  Nice to see how other areas deal with bicycles.

and an important lesson, what you pay for a motel has nothing to do with quality. You do not always get what you pay for. Our worst was the most expensive and best was one of the cheapest. And often mom & pop motels often do not replace mattresses as often as they should.

On to the next trip