11 Days on the Road

So far on my 2017 adventure, I have learnt 3 things.

1. You can do it cheap, but there will always be unexpected expenses.

2. Planning is a waste of time, the weather always wins.

3. Sandflies really do suck.

I was lucky to start my South Island trip by flying in to Nelson, having fish and chips on the beach with three great friends, then setting off for 9 glorious days with a university friend (Caroline) who I see far too little of.

On the flight over I was stung with a $60 fee for a heavy bag (2kg of tent poles) … small price for a portable home, but still annoying. Nevertheless, I was stoked to be on the South Island and officially at the start of the Unknown Year.

Caroline was leaving from Christchurch in just over a week’s time, so we planned a little summer tour around the north/east part of the island. We set off towards the Nelson Lakes with a plan to head up to Angelus Hut so I could show Caroline the amazing view. See previous running post here… https://lorrylovestorun.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/mt-angelus-1st-january-2016/

Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas. After a night battling sandflies (that feeling when you think it’s been raining all night but it was actually a swarm of sandflies banging against the fly of your tent 😳), we headed to St Arnaud to be advised against heading up in to the hills. Unless of course we wanted to be crawling along the ridge with hail in our face and not see any view. Hiya summer holidays.

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So we decided not to bother, and headed East where the weather was meant to be better. The rain followed us most of the way through Lewis Pass, but we stopped in a dry valley for lunch and stumbled across a beautiful (and quite scary) swing bridge.

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We’d planned to stop and stay in Hanmer Springs later in the week, but planning doesn’t work so we arrived there on night two. We stayed in an awesome campground just out of town, got lost running on about 10km of beautiful single track trails then soaked the night away in the hot pools.

The wind was slightly insane overnight, and only forecast to get worse so we were glad to be staying in an AirBnB in Mt Lyford on day 3. We headed out to Kaikoura for a look at the  Earthquake damage (and try to spend some money there) before heading on the inland road back to our “Log Chalet”. It was a mission to find as Mt Lyford seems to be a secret village which comes alive only in ski season, and the steep gravel roads were worrying as we were running out of petrol.. but we got there in the end.

The inland road back towards Hanmer the following day was so beautiful, and we kept heading south (following the sun) on the inland route towards Christchurch. Our next planned spot was Lake Tekapo, so as we made a B-line for there, both of us were getting Eager Feet for some hill action. We decided to stop on the way for an overnight tramp around Mt Somers. We arrived early afternoon but the weather was closing in already. Forecast for day 5 was great so we decided to do a short 3 hour up the hill on the first day, and a big 9 hour mission the next day.

We were hailed on during the walk up, and were glad to arrive at Pinnacles Hut just before it absolutely started pouring. We woke up early the next day to find snow on the hills, clear blue skies and a beautiful sunrise.

We set off towards Woolshed Creek Hut and stopped there for breakfast after about 2 hours of walking through an awesome mountain valley. The rest of the hike was beautiful and challenging, although towards the southern face of the mountain got a little bit boring. It was a great 2 day hike, but a good one day option would be to head between the two car parks and huts as you’d see the best scenery of the track … but would need two cars. We skipped the summit as the clouds were rolling in and time ticking on, and headed to Geraldine for the fish and chips we’d been fantasizing about all day.

We headed closer to Lake Tekapo, stopping at a DOC camp ground on the way only to be woken up by wild boars in the middle of the night. Sadly the weather really closed in when we reached Lake Tekapo, it was cold and misty and there was no view of the majestic Mt Cook. We had a really cold night in the tent but luckily I was with this one so spirits remained high.

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From there we spent a couple of days catching up with friends and family in Timaru and Christchurch, thankfully keeping warm in very comfy beds. Unfortunately the Mt Somers adventure had caused the death of my trail shoes, so we also had to do some shoe shopping in Christchurch.. another unwanted, unexpected expense. I do quite love my new shoes though! All of a sudden it was Caroline’s last night, but we managed to have a BBQ and a hot tub at my friend Steph’s place, so not at all bad!

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I did a little friend swap at Christchurch airport, dropping off Caroline and picking up Max. Max and I then heading West toward the mountains of Arthur’s Pass in search of some sunshine and running. The drive was awesome and I was so excited to be heading somewhere I hadn’t seen before. I instantly fell in love, and could happily spend a week there running new trails every day.

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The people in DOC were so friendly and helpful, aided by the fact they were runners too. We’d hoped to experience some of the Coast to Coast mointain run and head to Goat Pass hut, but we were advised against it because of the (more) heavy rain forecast which could make the rivers impassible. Instead we enjoyed running along the Arthur’s Pass walkway, up to Temple Basin skifield then finally up Kelly’s Creek to spend the night at Carroll’s Hut. Even though it lacked a fire, it was a great shelter from the storm for the night.

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Day 10 was a highlight. As the sky was blue we decided to hang around Arthur’s Pass another day and did a run along O’Malleys track to Anti-Crow hut. I usually think views only come from running up mountains, but this run taught me that valleys are just as beautiful. 16km of single track, grassland and river bed … Bliss.

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And thus, brings day 11 and a whole lot of rain. We headed west out of Arthur’s Pass (wah!), stopped at Hokitika and then made our way to Fox Glacier. More rain means another night not in the tent.. but my Eager Feet are raring to get back in to the hills tomorrow.

Not all those who wander are lost.

I caught up with three great uni friends last night who I hadn’t seen for about 18 months. As I told them about my rough plans for 2017, Jillian asked if I just felt like I needed a break from work for a while… And although that surely is a motivator, I realised that travel is just what I want to do with my life this year.

I’m from a small town on the West Coast of Scotland and have been living in New Zealand since August 2012. I’ve spent the last four years working, studying, running and falling in love with the country. I quit my job in December and have decided to spend some of 2017 on a bit of an adventure. Starting on the 16th January I (roughly) will be running up and around some hills in NZ, trekking in Nepal then backpacking through Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam before hopefully arriving in Canada around July.

I’m 27 and spending my savings on plane tickets and trekking poles. I moved to NZ at 22 but have never really done any solo travel or lived out of a backpack. I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing this time next year. I’m pretty excited, and more than a little nervous!

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – Bilbo Baggins