NZ North Island – Tauranga June 1 – 4

Click here for Google map link

On our first attempt to leave the South Island, we only made it as far as Cape Campbell. The wind was whistling through the Cook Strait from the direction we were trying to sail so it made it almost impossible for us to make any headway. We finally decided to go back to Purau Bay and wait it out for a better weather window. We were disappointed but it just didn’t make sense to keep beating into the wind making very little headway.

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Landfall docked in Lyttelton marina

When we arrived back in Purau Bay we decided that we needed to get some fuel as we had used quite a bit trying to motor sail into the wind. We searched the harbor not finding the fuel dock so we headed into the marina in Lyttelton where we found out that the only place to get diesel was in Christchurch. Luckily there was a very lovely couple that volunteered to take Denny and our Jerry cans into town for our much needed diesel. We were invited  to spend a night tied to a temporary docking wharf free of charge and given the combination for the use of the hot showers. We walked to center of town and had a great meal at a cozy little restaurant, Freeman’s Dining Room. We had a goodnight’s sleep before going back to Purau Bay to wait for another weather window.

Sunrise welcoming us to the North Island

Sunrise welcoming us to the North Island

DSC_8494After a couple of days we made our second attempt to leave the South Island and this time we successfully made it to Tauranga but we did have some challenges trying to round East Cape with gusts of 40+ knots. We made it into Tauranga Harbor shortly after sunrise, feeling relieved and happy to be back on the North Island. We did have to get some assistance to tie up to the dock in the marina as there was a 6 knot current.

Tauranga Harbour was a large, well kept, modern marina and although it had everything that we needed it wasn’t a place where we, or particularly Denny, would spend a lot of time in. Landfall seemed a little lost among the large boats with no live aboard people only the occasional weekend cruiser.

We spent a couple of nights, long enough to purchase a few provisions and do a day hike to Mount Manganui. It was a 20 minute walk and a 45 minute bus ride to the  quaint little beach town with many little cafes and restaurants and a large outdoor sea water pool. We did the hike to the top of Mount Manganui and got to enjoy the fabulous 360 view. It was all so vastly different from where we had just come from that it took a while for us to acclimate ourselves to the uber touristy surroundings. We enjoyed the bustling town but we were really ready to finish our circumnavigation so as soon as we got a decent weather window we left the marina and headed for our final anchorage destination, Great Barrier.

The view from Mount Managanui

The view from Mount Managanui

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NZ south Island – Purau Bay May 11- 23

 

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As we motored into Purau Bay it appeared that there were quite a few sailboats anchored there but as we came closer we realized that most yachts were on moorings. We did manage to find a fairly well protected anchorage away from the moorings in 10 feet of water. From this anchorage we were able to take the ferry across to Lyttelton and check out the earthquake devastated marina (which is only now being rejuvenated), the small grocery store and lots of quaint little restaurants. Lyttelton is only a short underground tunnel away from Christchurch which is where most people work and shop.

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Purau Bay, view from our boat

Sheffield Pie ShopWhile we were in Purau Bay we decided this was a good place to jump off the boat and do a little road trip. We rented a car in Christchurch and planned a route that would take us coast-to-coast traversing the Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass. Our first stop was the Original Sheffield Pie Shop as we have garnered a love for the traditional NZ meat pies. We were not disappointed, bloody good pies!!

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Arthur’s Pass

The road slowly wound its way up into the foothills of the Southern Alps and the scenery changed constantly. But the pictures can better describe that. To make our road trip a little more NZ authentic we did follow a sheep transport truck for a little way as we wound our way up through Arthur’s Pass and little did we know at the time that the stream of water being dumped out of the truck was actually liquefied sheep dung. After a while we started to get an odor in the car and during our first stop we realized the odor was very distinct outside of the car from even 10 feet away. Oh well, no worries, it’s a rental!

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Creative ways to divert water and rock landslides from the road

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Of course we saw sheep sheep sheep

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We managed to do a stroll on one of the many on the southern Alps treks

DSC_8330 DSC_8432 DSC_8428We made it all the way to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and by the time we reached there we were tired, it was getting late and we didn’t feel like driving anymore so we made the decision to spend the night there. We were a little anxious about leaving the boat anchored without us being on board but we checked the weather and there didn’t seem to be anything to worry about for the next 12 hours or so. Noahs ark

Noahs ark 4

Our room number !!!

Noahs ark 1

Our hostel room wall decor

We found a great Youth Hostel, Noah’s Ark. Each room was identified by an animal versus a room number. We got the keys for the ‘Pig’ room. Hmmm was it because we hadn’t showered in a week or more, looked a little scruffy or maybe had some sheep dung residue? Whatever… we had a great meal at a nearby restaurant,  took advantage of the hot showers and had a great night’s sleep. We made our way back to Christchurch via the same pass and made a few other pit stops along with another stop at the Sheffield Pie Shop. We made it back on Landfall before nightfall and all was well in Purau Bay.

We were fortunate to be back on the boat as the next evening a weather system passed through bringing with it gusts of 50+ knots of wind. It all happened very quickly. I was standing in the galley and could hear and feel the wind picking up. I suddenly felt the boat moving and at the same time the anchor alarm went off. Dennis was on deck within seconds and quickly started the motor realizing we were dragging the anchor. There was a large Otago University research boat anchored behind us and we were drifting towards it very quickly. Dennis had the boat in full throttle trying to keep Landfall from crashing into the research boat. I radioed the captain to alert him of our predicament and to determine where their anchor was in relation to our anchor. He turned his spotlight on us and advised us that it was safe for us to pull in our anchor. I quickly went on deck with a jacket for Denny as it was cold and raining very hard and he was out there with just pants and t-shirt. I ran forward and proceeded to bring in the anchor and luckily we were in shallow water so it didn’t take much time for the windlass to raise the anchor.  Thanks to Denny’s quick reaction to our predicament, we managed to avoid a collision. We moved to the center of the bay and re-anchored hoping that we could set the anchor despite the driving wind and rain. We put out about an 8 to 1 scope and we were successful in re-anchoring. The weather front only lasted about an hour and we were soon back in calmer weather conditions but we didn’t sleep well that night. All the while we were dealing with avoiding a collision and re-anchoring  we were aware that there was another boat in the same predicament. It was our first experience with the anchor dragging and we were thankful that we were on board when it happened despite the fact that we had a 4 to 1 anchor scope out in only 10 feet of water. It was also the other boats first time dragging anchor and we figured it may have been attributed to some very fine sand in spots. Incidents like that make us more aware of how quickly things can take a turn for the worst when mother nature unleashes it’s fury.

We had to wait a couple more days for a weather to make our way to the North Island and after the anchor dragging incident we were hesitant to get off the boat so that  made the wait seem to go on forever.

NZ south Island – Akaroa May 10

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We had to wait for the peak of high tide and motor sail our way out of the long harbor on a falling tide. This meant that we could not leave Dunedin until mid afternoon and it was an overnight and a full day sail to Akaroa. We entered Akaroa on a setting sun and had to anchor in the dark. This required me to stand on the bow with a flashlight so that we could avoid motoring over existing mooring balls.

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Beautiful Akaroa Harbour

DSC_8272We spent a day exploring the touristy little town with it’s French heritage. It was nearing the end of the tourist and the cruise ship season. Although it was a quaint little town, we had the sense that the locals were preparing for ‘down’ time and were a little tired of catering to tourists like ourselves. We had pastries and coffee at a café and made the decision to continue our way up the coast to nearby Lyttelton where we would wait for a weather window for our next puddle jump. size of hector dolphinWe left the next morning, shortly before sunrise and had a spectacularly warm, sunny motor to Purau Bay. Hector dolphins followed us all the way up the coastline, showing off their elegant blend of colours.  Again we felt fortunate to experience a rare gift of nature as Hector’s dolphin is considered the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin.DSC_8304 DSC_0533

NZ south Island – Dunedin May 02 – 09

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DSC_8133-1We finally had a weather window to leave Steward Island and cross Foveaux Strait, which  is in the middle of the roaring Forties and rarely calm.  With the diminishing effect of distance, Steward Island slowly disappeared. We felt some regret to leave this beautiful, isolated little patch of paradise.

My anxiety about crossing Foveaux Strait was unwarranted and our sail to Dunedin was uneventful. As we approached Dunedin we were again awed by the beautiful coastline.

 

After contacting Harbor control we were given clearance to traverse the 6+  miles of the natural harbor to our destination, the Otago Yacht Club (OYC). I used our Vodafone cell phone service and called the OYC manager, Barry, so that he could help us navigate Landfall to our berth as we arrived shortly after sunset.  DSC_0453He stood on the shore and used a laser pointer to ensure that we approached the entrance without any incident, although we did have to drag the keel through the mud. It was a little intimidating to motor to our designated spot in the yacht club with ‘0’ feet showing on the depth meter.

DSC_0459 It was somewhat of a treat to stay at a marina with hot showers, laundry facilities, access to fresh water, free Wi-Fi and use of the club house that included a large kitchen with  commercial grade appliances. DSC_0474_1I took full advantage and used the slow cooker to make  ‘pulled pork’ and the oven to roast a couple of whole chickens. We shared our oven cooked meals with friends from Dunedin. OYC is probably one of our favorite NZ marinas because of the people and the facilities. We took advantage of the available fresh water and thoroughly cleaned everything including the ‘miles’ of line we used for anchoring in the fiords and Steward island.

Early morning fog

Early morning fog

While in Dunedin we toured and enjoyed the grocery stores, restaurants,  city architecture, museums,  and public transportation. We visited the large Saturday market and came home with some NZ chicken and beef pies and a Venison smoked sausage stick. The ‘pie’ lady gave us a small complementary venison pie as a welcome gift once she heard how we had arrived in Dunedin.

Dunedin Train Station

We packed a picnic lunch and with the help of the great  public transportation, we made our way to Tunnel beach. Access to the coastline required us to tramp down a steep inclined coastline but it was worth it as the scenery was stunning.

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Denny taking a snooze in preparation for our return uphill hike

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Note the hiking trek to the top of knob where we had our picnic.

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After the isolation of Steward Island, it was a nice change to return to urban living!

 

NZ south Island – Stewart Island – North Arm, Port Pegasus April 17

Click here to open Google Map link – Bens Bay

It was an easy departure from Seal Cove. pull up the anchor and go!!

There was only one great weather anchorage in the North Arm of Port Pegasus and didn’t take us very long to get there. It was an anchor and stern line tie as the bay didn’t offer much room for the boat to swing.

With only a day to explore we decided to do a dinghy ride to the old ‘Tin Settlement’. The settlement was the ruin remains of tin mining back in 1889 and included a wharf, post office, general sore and hotel. The tin rush did not last long and the area was then used for a fish refrigerating plant. We visited the old compressor and made it to Belltopper Falls which was well worth it. Our only regret was not having the time to do the ‘Tin Range Track’.

Denny did make out for a quick dinghy fishing trip and it was Blue Cod for supper. Can never have enough of the fresh seafood.

Old Compressor

Old Compressor

Made it to Bell Topper Falls

Made it to Bell Topper Falls

Bell Topper Falls

Bell Topper Falls

 

Layers and layers of clothing. It's a little chilly here

Layers and layers of clothing. It’s a little chilly here

Road trip with Dylan, River Rafting

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

https://maps.google.com/maps/place/@35.44393,-174.20339,12z

Posting by Barb:

Last day of the road trip and it was Dylan’s day. After doing the fantasy, high in the sky, volcanic , and below ground adventures the last quest would be in the water, river rafting to be more exact. Dylan booked in for an afternoon of river rafting. I was going to take it easy for the day and let my muscles absorb the pain of the Tongariro Alpine crossing. Dylan managed to negotiate for a free 3 hour mountain bike rental to go with the rafting experience. DSC_8045So the plan was for us to pick up the bike and then for me to relax in the sun until he was done. Well, when we got to the bike rental the lady working there did a fantastic sales job and convinced me to do the bike and river rafting tour.

We were given directions on how to get to the mountain bike trail which meandered along the Tongariro river.DSC_8039 It was a beautiful trail and it gave us a chance to see the river that we would later raft on. Dylan has been mountain biking in Newfoundland so he was off and racing down the track which would be rated as ‘easy’ for any Mountain biker. I had not been on a bike for years and years. After an hour or so I was feeling pretty comfortable and managed to stay on the bike and on the trail with a little exception of a nose dive into the bushes to avoid the tree. Just walked away with a scratch and my pride was a little hurt. But what hurt the most was the leg muscle burn. As if the Alpine crossing wasn’t enough?

We made a stop at the Turangi Trout farm and watched some anglers fishing and catching some pretty impressive trout. It was a catch and release program as they try to rebuild the fish stock.

We made our way back to the River rafting hut and got suited up for our next adventure. I was given an extra little fleece sweater as they were aware of my dislike for cold water. And so we were off! IMG_1802This wasn’t a gentle float down a river it was a hard paddle in rapids with the guide yelling ‘harder, harder, paddle harder, ok we made it again. Thank you folks!!’.

IMG_1784It was 3 hours of intense paddling and some floating with a couple of swim spots. For the swim we were given the option to get off and climb up a rock outcrop to jump into the river. I declined but Dylan did an impressive Topsy Turvy jump into the cold water. DSCN3750We did one more stop where people could jump into the water in a spot where the water was gentle and calm. Three hours of rafting and we arrived safely back. Although being with Dylan made me feel young as he challenged me to do things I may not have ordinarily done all I can say is that every muscle ached after the last 24 hours of hiking, cycling and paddling.IMG_1812

That was the end of a truly exceptional bonding experience with Dylan but it was time for me to head back to the boat. Cyclone ‘Pam’ was heading to NZ after devastating Vanuatu and I wanted to be back to help Denny in case the weather got really bad. Dylan continued his NZ travels. We did hope  to get together for one more road trip before he headed back home to another island, Newfoundland!

Road trip with Dylan, Tongariro Alpine Crossing

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

https://maps.google.com/maps/place/@35.44393,-174.20339,12z

Posting by Barb:

Tongariro Elevation chart

Tongariro Elevation chart

DSC_7981My turn and I of course would pick a hike. Tongariro crossing is something I wanted to do since I arrived in New Zealand. It wasn’t something Denny was keen on doing with the trouble he has been having with his knee. The hike is just short of 20 km and it traversed over a glacially carved out valley and quickly started ascending to the highest point called the Red Crater before starting the long descent to the car park.

Mount Doom

Mount Doom

The day started at 6 am and we had to drive to the end point of the hike where we took a 20 minute shuttle bus to the beginning of the track. I did feel like an ant climbing the ant hill as hundreds of people were being dropped of by shuttle buses and we all walked single file through a well groomed and stepped trail. Regardless of the vast number of people it was a stunning hike! We could see Mount Ngauruhoe in the distance and this was the site for Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings!

Let's go to the top Mom

Let’s go to the top Mom

There was a side trip we could take to climb to the top and Dylan was very excited about doing that. I was adamant about not doing it as I knew we still had quite a long hike back to the car and my knees were feeling a little shaky already.

As we approached the

At the top on Red Crater

At the top on Red Crater

Red Crater we could smell the sulphur and saw pockets of steam rising from the ground. I found it invigorating to be walking in an active volcanic area. There had actually been a small eruption in 2012 so there were lots of warnings to be vigilant and to obey all warnings! They did have red flashing lights installed which waned people to quickly exit the track if flashing. The track continued from the red undulating red ridge to brilliant emerald lakes. It was a feast of

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

 

colours but there were long lines for the best picture spots. From there it was all downhill and I felt the stress on the leg muscles. We practically sprinted down the hill to catch the 3:30 shuttle bus and save us another kilometer walk to the car. We arrived at 3:35 and decided to finish the walk versus waiting and hour for the next shuttle. Spectacular hike that I could tick off my ‘to do’ list.

Road trip with Dylan, Hobbiton

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

https://maps.google.com/maps/place/@35.44393,-174.20339,12z

Posting by Barb:

Dylan and I wanted to do a road trip  to see some of New Zealand and spend some quality time together. Dennis decided to stay behind on Landfall as he had lots of boat projects to work on and he wanted Dylan and I to just have some time to ourselves. We planned our 4 day trip and we each picked places we  we both wanted to see and places we individually wanted to see.

DSC_7832DSC_7919First stop would be Hobbiton!! Yes, it’s a tourist trap but both Dylan and I were huge Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie fans. Actually our love for the story started long before the movie was made when we read the J.R.R. Tolkien’s book the Hobbit. We probably both immersed ourselves in the fantasy at about the same age, many years ago when I was 16 and not so many years ago when Dylan was 14 or so. It would be a Mcisaac family tradition to see the Lord of the Ring movies when it premiered every Christmas. This last Christmas I watched the last 3D Hobbit movie with our good friends Tina and Sonke. Never would have dreamed that I would actually be here in NZ for a premier showing!

DSC_7824DSC_7881When we got there we were greeted by Gandalf himself. We, that is Dylan, I and 20 or so other people, followed the tour guide, along the Shire. When Peter Jackson began to look for suitable locations for film series he first saw the Alexander Farm during an aerial search. Peter Jackson nailed it because the Shire was everything I imagined when reading the book.

 

 

 

DSC_7957DSC_7920Our tour ended at the Green Dragon where we enjoyed a good craft beer and a traditional New Zealand pie. Everyone visiting in NZ must have pie!!

After visiting Hobbiton,  it made us want to go back and have a marathon day of Lord of The Rings and Hobbit movies. Get the popcorn ready Denny, I know you can’t wait for that day to come!

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Cape Brett Hike with Dylan

February 25 – 26

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

https://maps.google.com/maps/place/@35.44393,-174.20339,12z

Posting by Barb:

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A picture is worth a thousand words.

Cape Brett Elevation chart:

Whangamumu-Profile 0

2 km

2 km

3

3 km

 

Our friends Sonke and Tina invited us to go with them on the Cape Brett hike. We, of course said ‘yes!’ and thought no more of it until some of our ‘better educated on NZ hike’ friends, none of whom had done the complete ‘return’ hike, questioned our desire to do this. Well we were committed and Dylan was looking forward to experiencing the great NZ outdoors. The hike was a continuous trek up one incline and then down another. There seemed to be no end. As soon as we finished one grueling climb  and down over the other side we were already looking at our next climb!! Not a sight to behold when Denny’s knees started to give him trouble. We

4 km

4 km

5 km

5 km

won’t lie, it was a tough hike.   The trek traversed through native and  bush, ran along the ridge and through some beautiful coastline terrain. But we did do some research and this is what we found out ” To walk this 16 km undulating track, you should be self-sufficient and will need to have a high degree of fitness and experience. You will need 8 hours of daylight one way to complete the journey to the old lighthouse settlement. You must take plenty of water to drink during the tramp. Carry a water treatment system if you are staying at the Cape Brett hut as the quality of drinking water cannot be guaranteed during summer.”

7 km. We missed the 6 km marker??

8 km

‘ We can do it!’ we said. We did do it but it was no ‘cake walk’. For any of you contemplating this hike it is well worth the beautiful scenery and the option is there to take a water taxi back from the hut but you do need a cell phone to contact them and good weather for a ‘pick up’.

We decided to pack fresh vegetables and noodles for our cookout at the hut.  We each packed 3 litres of water and we brought along 2 bottles of wine for the celebratory drink. The hut was well equipped with everything we needed and the vegetable soup was exactly what we needed for nourishment. But it was the wine that hit the spot!! We found a pack of cards so the four of us had a round of card

9 km

9 km

10 km

10 km

‘golf’. All that we can say about that was that Tina won every single hand. Each time one of us thought we had a good hand she had a better one.

It was a beautiful night so Denny, Dylan and I dragged the mattresses outside and slept under the starts. Our total exhaustion allowed us to just lie there and think of nothing and  enjoy the glitter in the sky. And every now and then we witnessed a falling star.

The next morning our stiff muscles tempted us to take the easy way out and order a water taxi but we didn’t give in.

11 km

11 km

12 km

12 km

Denny and I left 3 hours before every one else and slowly made our way back. The ‘young ones’ passed us half way through the trail. There was nothing more satisfying then walking past the last kilometer marking. Believe me we earned that satisfaction!!

That was just the first of many hikes Dylan would do while in New Zealand.

 

 

13 km

13 km

14 km

14 km

15 km.

15 km. No more markers but many more KM to walk

 

 

Each hike rewarded us with spectacular scenery. Cape Brett was a jewel!! 

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Hikes and Road trip with Dylan

February 15 – 20

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

https://maps.google.com/maps/place/@35.44393,-174.20339,12z

Posting by Barb:

As Landfall was on the ‘hard’ we could not take Dylan sailing so we planned a couple of road trips. Close to Whangarei we decided to take him to the highest point, Mount Mania and then to an underground experience, Abbey Caves.

DSC_7686DSC_7729I had already hiked up Mount Mania but this time we decided to do a sunset hike. We  packed a couple of head lamps for the return trip and a couple of beers to enjoy while the sun was setting. Denny decided that he should not go as DSC_7749he was not sure if his knee would survive the hundreds of steps up and down, approximately 3.5 kms of stairs. There were a few people at the top when  we arrived but we were soon left alone to sit and watch the sunset. It was an incredible experience to be able to have front row seats to a beautiful sunset while sipping on a cold beer and being able to enjoy great conversation without trying to compete with social network pings and tweets.

Just a few minutes from Whangarei is Abbey Caves and Glow worms! So off we went with our headlamps and Denny was all over this hike! I never could understand why a cave would be more appealing than a mountain top with sunsets but that’s something Denny would have to answer to. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a short hike to the mouth of the cave and then with some encouragement from Denny and Dylan I followed them into the cave.  The warning “Only experienced cavers should enter underground, as there are risks from rapidly rising water and roof falls” was enough to dampen my enthusiasm. I did follow the boys for a while but as it got wetter and narrower I was out of there. Denny and Dylan did discover a chamber inside the cave that contained abundant glow worms. What is a glowworm you may ask? Although we see them as a dreamy mass of twinkling lights they are actually larvae (maggots) of a species of fly called a fungus gnat. Maybe not so dreamy!

Dylan had obtained tickets to the yearly Splore festival which included 2 nights of tenting with all day music and festivities. In Mrs Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words; defines Splore as ‘Merry making festivities, carousing and frolicking or a good going session.’ Just what Dylan was looking for!015fb71a5ce3ed5dd31c4b6a339c3ebfaa228e798b The festival was to take place in a location  South of Auckland so I decided that I would do a little road trip with Dylan to Auckland, enjoy the city and then drop him off at the festival. We stayed at the International Youth Hostel and had a clean,  sparse room for $70 in the heart of the city and it included free parking. Everything was within walking distance so we did a lot of walking. We enjoyed a fine, large mug of Belgian beer at a nice little pub and we now understand why Belgium has won ‘World Beer Awards’. We drove and walked on a few of the volcanoe craters in the city and took the usual visiting family/friend iconic picture on Mount Eden. It was a great bonding weekend. Loved it!!

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