Southern Crossed

Just a few notes on the days around Bill’s final ride with me… he broke down as we were coming back from an unsuccessful attempt to summit Mt. Arthur in Kahurangi National Park. It was a gloomy day, and once I got above treeline the wind got ridiculous. I don’t mind wind, but when it starts to push over someone my size, it’s an issue. The trail goes along the top of a steep, completely exposed ridge as well, so there was nowhere to go but down.

I was about halfway to the summit when I decided it was foolish to continue. I didn’t even feel it was safe to try to head back to the hut at treeline. Instead, I sat down in a hollow in the tussock, so that I was out of most of the wind, and waited. About an hour later, the wind had died enough to follow the ridge back down to the hut, where I sat for two hours talking to two Swiss hippies who seemed to be living there indefinitely.

I tried one more time to make it to the summit, but the wind thwarted me again as soon as I got up on the ridge. I gave up and went back to Bill. The drama that followed has already been covered in detail, so I’ll skip ahead about a week…

After selling Bill in Christchurch, I got a cheap rental (a Nissan Sunny of all things… is there any car less appropriate for me? A Sunny??) and drove north along the coast to the ferry to the North Island, stopping one more time in Kaikoura. I got a takeaway of grilled crayfish (what Kiwis call rock lobster) and drove out to the Kean Point car park to gawk at the seals which were, as I’d figured, stretched out and snoozing all over the place, including across several walkways.

The following day I got the ferry from Picton across Cook Strait to Wellington and the North Island. My stop in Wellington was brief… just enough time to check out a couple LOTR film locations I’d missed the first time round back in September (Jeez, I’ve been here a long time!). I drove along the Kapiti coast to Paraparaumau which, believe it or not, I can pronounce correctly (this skill has impressed more than one Kiwi… it’s like German. Once you start a long word, you just keep going no matter what).

After a brief stop at the Kapiti Cheese Store in Paraparaumau for some deeply and deliciously discounted Awa Blue and Mt. Hector and Tuteromoana aged cheddar (I’ll miss all three when I leave New Zealand), I continued up the North Island’s West Coast to Mt. Egmont, also known as Mt. Taranaki… also known, at least in my mind, as You Sexy Beast. But more on that in another post. Just wanted to catch up on all the bits and pieces.

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