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...And the living's easy.

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Hold onto your hats, folks- this one’s set to be a long’un.
I’ve been ever so slack with my writing recently, and therefore have accrued quite a backlog of bit ands bobs jotted in a ratty climbing guide, dot points hastily written on the back of my hand (only to cause head scratching and confused keening when I later see the smeared inky mess post-ocean frolic) and masses upon masses upon hard-drive-overloading-masses of photos. Here not be dragons, but instead tales of sunrise hikes, starlit blues jammin’, climbs climbed and sights seen. And also a fair whack of don’t-you-wish-you-were-here photos.
You’ve been warned.

My conception of time has changed recently- I’ve abandoned days and dates in favour of sunsets and sunrises. Since finishing up work about a month ago, I’ve fully given myself over to my gypsy alter-ego (ok, let’s be honest, she isn’t that alter) and have relished being able to get out for weeks on end- hence my somewhat sporadic email replies and oft-missed phone calls. Apologies, and all that jazz. I sit here today with that oh-so-distinctive-campfire-scent still curled in my hair, held in place by a least half the ocean’s salt (conservative estimate)- the remnants of a multi-day sea kayaking adventure in Marlborough Sounds region, a mere few hours to the east(ish(maybe)) of Nelson. I’m saving that story for last though, as it includes photos of dolphins and I know that’ll keep the crowds intrigued until the end.

After kitting myself out with all the latest and greatest in outdoors technology (read: kathmandu splurg), my housemate, a friend and I took to the (steep) hills of Nelson Lakes National Park. After oohing and aahing at the clear, deep blue waters of Lake Rotoiti, we clambered up the demanding Robert Ridge Route, trying to distract ourselves from our burning thighs with (somewhat out of breath) musical numbers and musings on why, exactly, we thought this was a good idea in the first place. The view from the top silenced us (as did the hefty amounts of chocolate we were shoving in our gobs) and we even managed to enjoy the next 6 or so hours until we reached the descent to Lake Angelus and Angelus Hut. Not to be deterred from trying out my new toys, I was the lone camper- which I delighted in as I pitched tent by the lake, admiring my rest stop for the night. The walk out the next day was challenging and long- starting with a steep descent down a scree slope, followed by many hours wandering down a valley before traipsing a decent third of the perimeter of the lake. However, the scenery was stunning, the river wonderfully refreshing as a swim stop, and the company grand.

Lake Rotoiti

Robert Ridge Route

The stunning alpine Lake Angelus

My camping spot!

Ali and I got up at 4am to one of the clearest, dark, star-studded skies I have ever seen. We hiked back up to the ridge to find the valleys full of cloud, and the lake pretending it was a mirror.

Heading back down the valley the next day.

The same friend and I (the wonderful, wonderful Gem) tackled the Cable Bay Walkway- a stunning track that runs from just outside of Nelson to Cable Bay, starting at a beach and meandering through pastures and forest to finish high on a ridge overlooking the breath-taking vista of Cable Bay. We shared our walk with goats, sheep, cows, a cranky old bull and about a million sandflies. A spontaneous mid-afternoon decision, we didn’t give ourselves many hours before sunset but we made it back in time for the last half hour or so to be bathed in that wonderful pre-sunset golden glow, which makes everything look warm and inviting- even cranky old bulls. AND I could justify eating my weight in a delicious bean-spinach-toast-avocado concoction afterwards, so THAT was an achievement all on its own.

The start of the walkway.


It may have taken me all summer, but I finally made it over to Paynes Ford, Takaka, for some of the best sport climbing, nay, THE best sport climbing, that New Zealand has to offer. (Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Haters, come at me). My housemate (the wonderful, wonderful Ali) and I loaded up his van with rope and quickdraws, harnesses and helmets and set off over the hill to the stomping grounds of Golden Bays finest hippies and climbing bums- Hangdog Camp. Hangdog is a place that people come expecting to stay mere days, and emerge, blinking, into the sunlight of three weeks later with tendonitis, no skin left on their fingers and a dazed, happy grin on their faces. As we were checking in, the manager told us to pay when we left- with a cheeky glint to his eye that told us it probably wouldn’t be when we were expecting. Cue two weeks of amazing climbing, river swims, vegan goodies from the nearby Takaka, blues and Britney Spears sing-a-longs by the fire (don’t judge) and becoming a part of the furniture of and the family that is Hangdog camp. I made some amazing friends, and met some amazing people with stories to match. I never took my camera to the crags with me, so instead I offer some photos of the graffiti in the toilets- which I could’ve (ahem did) spend long enough reading to provoke concern in anybody waiting outside.


Hangdog Herb Garden

Takaka, in a mural.

Finally, dolphins. And penguins. And jellyfish. And starfish. And other fish.
My most recent get-out-amongst-it was the aforementioned sea kayaking venture- with another wonderful Ali and his wonderful (I’m starting to think I don’t know any other adjectives for describing my friends) gal Emma, I took to the high seas and pillaged (read: peacefully plodded) around Tennyson Inlet and Pelorus Sound for 4 days earlier this week. We started from Gem’s bach in Cissy Bay, which is at the end of the windiest road ever (fact). We island-hopped and bay-hugged, marvelling at the (somewhat disconcerting (seriously I almost got vertigo)) clarity of the water and the mish-mash of tropical forest and beachy scrub that clung to the sheer cliffs, studded with random patches of pine plantation (say wha?) and big, cleared areas for grazing. Our campsites were water access only, and we were the only inhabitants both nights- so of course we went wild... with a small campfire on the beach and cards. A definite highlight was on the second morning, when a pod of around 60 dolphins (finally, she gets to the dolphins) was spotted on the horizon- we sprinted to catch them, losing feeling in arms and running out of breakfast, to find them actually coming towards us! They stopped to play around the kayaks, darting under and around and provoking squealing from all parties (and also I may or may not have stopped breathing), and doing all their very best tricks- the classic jump, the body-slam-into-classically-jumping-buddy, and the jump-to-back-flop that was particularly favoured by a stylish dolphin sporting seaweed draped around his/her fin. When they tired of our lack of tricks in response they took off for the other side of the bay... leaving us to realise we’d paddled with them alllllll the way back to where we’d started that morning. A coffee stop was immediately called for, and heartily seconded and thirded. Credit as noted for the following photos goes to Ali and Emma- they managed to keep breathing during the dolphin-scapades to get some amazing photos, and also just generally rock at the whole photo thing more than yours truly. (Emma gets amazing pictures of shags, Lucy photographs a leaf on the beach. Ali gets awesome pics that-tell-stories of the girls navigating, Lucy finds pretty shells and preserves the memory of them forever on film.)

Heading into Cissy Bay [photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]

Setting out!



[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]
Girls navigating.
[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]
[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]

[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]
[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]
[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]
[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]
[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]

The final day:
[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]
[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]
[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]
[photo credit: Ali Mitchell/Emma Baines]

As I finish this up, the sun is doin’ its thang and setting- which is getting earlier and earlier with the approaching winter. Makes for a pretty picture from my driveway though!


Next week I’m off South- I’ll be back to a sporadic internet presence for the next month and a half as I start to wind up my time here across the ditch (yes, yes, maybe maybe maybe I’ll be back in Aus around Mayish. Month at Arapiles, anyone? Just putting that ole’ idea out there...). I’m looking to return to Paynes and bust some more fingers before I leave, and also check out the much-lauded coffee scene of Wellington (preparing myself before diving (enthusiastically) back into Melbourne’s), as well as rounding out my South Island travels with a sunrise Milford Sound kayak, some more thigh-burning hikes, and whatever create-your-own-adventures I can squeeze in before the cold drives me home (or to the snow).

Until next time, amigos! (That university Spanish hasn’t gone to waste, no sirree). I’ll attempt to keep my next entry under multi-volume tome length, though I make no promises.

Love, and starlit blues-


Posted by lucyfbaird 00:13 Archived in New Zealand

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