Road trip with Dylan, River Rafting

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

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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, Waitomo

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

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Posting by Barb:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur next stop was Dylan’s pick, a Waitomo caving adventure. Back to the world of Glow Worms but with some heart thumping action. The first Waitomo quest was called Black Odyssey. It was a couple of hours in the cave with emphasis on different caving techniques (zip lines, rope work, swings, heights) over glowworms. Before being able to participate we would have to pass a test where we had to squeeze ourselves in OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa tight box and move through a narrow cardboard tunnel to come out at another opening. I didn’t even attempt that test as I am slightly Claustrophobic.  Dylan would have to do that escapade all by himself. All I can say about that adventure was that when I saw him again he was grinning from ear to ear. As I looked at the pictures I almost wished I had muddled through the test because I think I may have enjoyed the thrill of climbing and swinging above the Glow Worms.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second Waitomo quest was black water rafting, the Black Labyrinth. It was another couple of hours in a cave but this time we were dressed in wet suits and given a large rubber tube so that we could weave, jump and float our way through the glowworm flecked underworld.  It was dark, cold, wet and we floated and jumped off some ledges to the next pool, rear end first! We even floated by a nice size,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA fresh water eel, which we took a picture of. Although I have a dislike for cold water, I actually did enjoy the tube ride. Lucky for us it was only a 3 hours experience whereas  the Glow Worms live their entire lives underground in the cold, wet caves eating other bugs or each other. Quite a miserable life but they provided such beauty for us!

 

 

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Road trip with Dylan, Hobbiton

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

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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

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Posting by Barb:

DSC_7761

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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Dylan in NZ

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

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Posting by Barb:

015de8981abc96c06267fc80ad599efe07fdd91bc0There is no doubt that one of the negatives aspects of living on a sailboat and moving from one anchorage to the next is keeping in touch with family and friends. And to that end we are held hostage to the availability and quality of  internet services. But in the last year we have been fortunate to have had many visitors. So having Becky, Allison and Mike on board was fantastic and now my boy Dylan was with us in New Zealand! Dennis will attest to the fact that as February 12th drew near I was more and more anxious and excited. I looked around the boat and tried to imagine whether 6″3′ Dylan would be able to stretch out and sleep in the salon or whether he would be able to walk tall and straight inside our little home. But despite all my distressing the day was finally here. It was so good to see him walk out of the Auckland International Airport terminal gate. All was ok, he was finally here! (He slept fine in the salon and his beautiful curly hair grazed the ceiling and gave it a badly needed Dockland 5 dusting).

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For Dylan’s first day I took him to several of the culinary spots in Whangarei. That included the Fat Camel and the Butter Factory for a cool tall one. So what else  does a visitor from Newfoundland want besides a good beer?  01115b541237e28c444954c275efa766b8a423d57bThat would be a hot day on a white, sandy beach so that was on the agenda for the second day. And it was a hot day and it was a beautiful beach, Ocean Beach!

01f11f02fc397e54aa05f70cbf4eb4d015e25088a8On the way back from sunning and swimming we passed by an area where there were quite a few cars parked by the side of the road. Of course we had to check it out and it turned out to be a Kiwi Release occasion. We got to see a real, live Kiwi up close.
There were a lot of things ticked of Dylan’s ‘To Do’ list in a couple of days.