Had an epic week in Gizzy, not much happening after the last blog update but did manage to score the island pumping .. only three of us out:
Nek minnit - off to the South Island to go on a hunting trip, catch up with mates and basically hang out in the amazing playground that is Maui's waka (sorry Aussies you'll have to catch up on some Maori literature to get this one!)..
First stop Christchurch; I stayed the night at my mate Zeff's (in his early seventies but still hunts in the mountains more than guys half his age!) and his lovely wife Gwen's house. They were full on into house refurbishment after the big earthquake, nevertheless they were still as welcoming as ever and put me up for the night with dinner and a roof over my head.
Unfortunately Zeff was too busy to come for a hunt with me, my mate Hector also had to pull pin last minute due to other commitments so I was facing the prospect of a solo hunt on the West Coast. Not a huge deal but it can get a bit lonely out there especially as the nights are so long over the winter months. Fortunately I managed to arrange a hunting mate from the NZ fishnhunt forum.. some may question whether heading into the mountains for five days with an armed stranger you met on the internet is a good idea... what could possibly go wrong?!
Anyways, I picked up my rental car from Ace Rentals in Chch.. $18 a day for a beaten up Sedan? WIN! I cruise over to the west coast, firearm, surfboard and a shit-ton of dehydrated Backcountry meals in my arsenal. It was all going sweet until I noticed the white smoke billowing out the back as I headed down from Arthur's Pass.. Oh sh*t. Pulled over and it seemed OK but I did notice that my top end speed kept dropping and dropping till I was maxing out at 80kph.. as long as I make it to Hokitika it's all good I kept telling myself..
Ah well, I guess I'll go surfing and deal with the aftermath of the shit car later. I'm literally shaking with excitement and can't get into my wettie fast enough.. I sprint down the beach and hit the water.. WHAKA ME THIS IS COLD!! And to think the West Coast used to be my reprieve from the cold water in Chch back in the uni days! The sight of those perfect waves pulls me back into focus and I head out.. scoring empty amazing waves in the late arvo sun. I surf 'til almost dark and my heart skips a beat as I see a dark shape cutting through the water towards me.. dolphin or shark?? OK, keep calm, slowly paddle in.. fortunately it was a dolphin, a lone endangered Hector's dophin in fact, who proceeded to circle around me at arms length, truly awesome experience. The irony that my mate Hector should've been surfing with me out here and it was his namesake that showed up was not lost on me. I'm not one to be superstitious but I took this as a bit of a sign to head in.. as I walk up the beach a casual glance down reveals a big chunk of greenstone at my feet. Well this must be my lucky day! I put the greenstone on the bonnet of the car and booyah it starts up!
The only downside is that the new max speed is around 40kph.. It was a very slow 30 odd km to Hoki's. I make it to the local petrol station and the mighty Nissan Sunny spits the dummy again.. another stroke of luck - the petrol station was right next to the local mechanic where I left it to be fixed while I headed bush for the next few days.
I team up with my new hunting mate Aaron (Smiddy) and after the night in Hokitika we head into the hills for a few days .. put together a wee vid of the adventure here: https://vimeo.com/42694207
The next stage of the journey was to pick up the replacement car (rental company even dropped it off at Hokitika as the old one was too buggered to fix there) then head to Queenstown and catch up with my mate Ben. He's a full time Pounamu (greenstone or NZ jade) carver. Does some amazing work including the piece below which he'd done for me. Check out his work at http://www.facebook.com/tokiaotearoa .
Ben took a bit of time out from work to take me for a mish to Skipper's Canyon; an old abandoned mining town just out of Queenstown. The road in there is an adventure in itself. It's a little morbid perhaps but the graveyard was fascinating.. it told a story of the hard life they lived back in the goldrush days.. a lot of people dying very young from drowning, rockfalls and dynamite.. tough times.
After the heavy shit the kids came out to play .. throwing rocks off high shit continues to provide a lot of entertainment into adulthood haha.
Cheers to Ben and Jo for putting me up and putting up with me!
The drive back to Chch was epic.. good weather to showcase that epic South Island scenery and a nice cop who let me off some marginal speeding ;-)
Had a quick catch up with mates Andrew and Amy for the last night in Chch, before heading on back to Gizzy then Aucks to see my mum and stepdad Peter.
Currently in Fiji - small but fun waves today at Cloudbreak but it's gonna be pumping tomorrow and it's looking on for the next week! Hopefully we can get a few waves in before the Volcom Pro Fiji starts on Sat. Watch this space ;-)