Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Aventures R Us

One of my finest Dunedin friends, Lemuel, happened to be in Wellington at the same time as me and asked me to dedicate a day to a secret adventure he had planned. I cleared my wednesday, donned my matching red plaid shirt and geared up for a day of being a true badass. He said it would be historical, geeky, outdoors and with a touch of danger. To prepare, we had a huge hungover brunch at 'Sweet Mother's Kitchen.' I had 6 black bean quesadillas, Lemuel had a burrito and we both scoffed curly fries and corn bread. We were ready for anything.

First we spent about 45 minutes walking up and down central Wellington looking for our correct bus out to the nautical, sea-side suburb of Seatoun. Lemuel said he would live there if he lived in Wellington, and I said "typical!" - 'cos Seatoun is the most Dunedin-like suburb and also very separate from the city. You could really feel like a hermit here. Lemuel said he would like to live in one of the sea facing little houses and tell everyone he used to be a light-house keeper, and that he lost his job when light-houses became automated. Below, Lemuel on the beach and various examples of Seatoun to Scorching Bay architecture (the first house seems perfect for Lem).

After a walk around the bays and an uphill scramble in deafening, gale-force winds (p.s. I will never, not ever, live in Wellington - for this reason alone) we arrived at the location of the secret adventure - an old military fort on the hills overlooking the city - Kau point battery. The place was pot-holed with terrifying holes such as that pictured below (which would entail a 5metre drop with no exit) and the main fort entrance (third picture down) was in the most gusty spot, so I was trying to scramble in as the wind whipped my face, hurt my ears and made me feel generally hysterical and insane.

End result: N'est pas d'aventures. I wimped out. I climbed in, looked around, freaked out and climbed out, holding my nose from panic (?! why) and screaming at the goddamn wind. Lemuel tried to venture further than me but the build-up of debris (not there when he last visited) gave him the heeby-jeebies and we both rested and went to a cafe in scorching bay where we enjoyed an unearned hot soup and coffees.

In the late afternoon sun, on our walk back, I saw this Tui which I interpreted as conclusive proof that the day was, despite my cowardice, a raving success.

Here are some photos of inside Kau point battery by someone much braver than me. 

Tramping for Tramps

Three of my darling Wellington friends banded together and bought me a ticket to their fine city as a birthday gift. I've never explored the North Island, excepting Auckland and Wellington, so I wanted to go on a little tramping trip. We drove out to Upper Hutt (1 hr from town) and did an overnight tramp to Tutuwai hut in the Kaitoke regional park. It's pretty amazing there's so much lush wilderness so close to Wellington city, and there's hardly anyone there (to be fair, I think the huts on the Tararua southern crossing are fairly booked out all summer). 

Compared to the well-kept tramps I've been on in Fiordland, where the tracks are super wide and well-marked for international tourists, the track here was pretty scruffy, over-grown and badass. We did lose it a few times, and the 'detours' due to slips were a bit exciting (signposted above with "GIRLS" and "DOC" scrawled below 'Detour' and 'trampers' with an arrow pointing the opposite way).

To prove we really are GIRLS we changed into pretty dresses in the hut, and drank whisky, ginger beer, tea and coffee. We cooked up a dinner of fresh pasta, sun-dried tomato pesto, spinach and pepperoni. Bliss.

Tutuwai hut is awesome, the night sky killed my tiny brain and the company was the best ever. Babes.

Practical information: the tramp took us a bit longer than it says on the DOC website, which is weird since I usually find DOC times to be extremely conservative. I googled and lots of people report similar issues, with some people taking 9 hours to complete the '4.5 hour' tramp. I find that hard to believe, since we were walking pretty slowly (a combination of general dawdling and then Logan having an injured knee) and took about 6 hours, including breaks. In any case, the time estimates around these parts don't seem especially reliable and the track was definitely more rough than I've seen elsewhere. Still totaaally dreamy though.