Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Earnslaw and Walter Peak

I've shown several photos of the TSS Earnslaw from afar, but it has taken all the time I've spent here spread over the better part of a decade for me to actually ride the thing. Short story: it's great!

At the helm

Cecil Peak, up close

The Earnslaw used to be the lifeline for all of the remote stations scattered around Wakatipu, but now it's on the easier duty of shuttling day tourists back and forth between Queenstown and Walter Peak Farm. Walter Peak does a great lunch service, and it's expensive, but every now and then there are locals' deals that make it a lot more palatable. So that's when we go :)

Lone stand

Walter Peak Farm


It's only a 35-minute trip across the lake to get to Walter Peak, and depending upon the wind direction, it can be calm or awful. No matter the weather, they allow you out on the deck, and while my insides don't do that well on boats in general, being out in the fresh air always makes it easier for me.


Not so well-tended

Sheep (shearing, ahem)

The whole process is pretty touristy: mandatory photos upon boarding (for sale!), sheep shearing demonstrations (exit through the gift shop!), etc., but it's a cool enough setting that I can tune all that stuff out and enjoy the lake, mountains, and food.


Next arrival

There's an old saying...

Perhaps the neatest opportunity is using the trip as a jumping-off point for bike or running adventures. The far side of the lake is difficult to access at all but a few points, so hitching a ride across to go crush oneself in new territory is probably a worthwhile pursuit. Will report back...


Buh bye


On the way back, we talk to a couple of very friendly Chinese women who are on a whirlwind 5-day tour of the entire country. It boggles my mind the amount of ground they'll cover, activities they'll do, and utter lack of opportunity to stop and smell the roses they'll be faced with, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes!


Monday, October 5, 2015

Birthday Sunset Scamper

OK, blast from the past. Well, a year ago, which may as well be ancient history.

Ethel and my dad share a birthday, and we decided to commemorate the occasion last year with a small group scamper up to Mt. Rose for champagne, snacks, and sunset (which is alliterated if you say it out loud [ed. note: I just learned that alliteration counts for sounds, whereas I always thought it was just for the written form]).

ANYhow, our ragtag group includes Luis, Gavin, Sharon, and Lauren, and we make pretty quick work of the always-enjoyable trail as it winds past the waterfall (nearly dry) and then steeply up the ravine to the saddle.'s off to work we go...

Yoga photobomb

We've given ourselves plenty of time to make sunset, so there's no shortage of fun 'n games on the way up. That being said, we don't get too distracted, and we're up top with just enough time to start getting cold from the combination of nearly 11000' elevation, breeze, and low-angle light.

Ten commandments on one of these...which one was it?


So pensive

The biggest lesson of the excursion comes when we discover that a few hours of jostling around in backpacks, plus a massive decrease in air pressure, means that, um, less of the champagne is drinkable than we had counted on.

Not long now

Smoky layers

Nearly there

We while the time away sipping champagne and snacking as the sun approaches the horizon. High altitude sunsets are always extra special, and this one doesn't disappoint. Once the sun dips below our purview, we scrape together a quick group photo, realize that we're freezing our asses off, and make a break for lower stomping grounds.

Sunset party

Veil drops

Moonlit kinda-selfie

We've planned all along to descend under a big moon, and we're also amply prepared with headlamps. Mine, hilariously, decides to no workie, so I let my eyes adjust to the increasing moonlight and find that it's just fine, thanks.

Moonlit fun

Good little fireflies

Streaky glow

Sideways lightning

The rest of our blast down the mountain is punctuated by occasional photos of varying complexity, and the (relative) warmth, lack of wind, and ample moonlight conspire to make it more enjoyable than your average death march.

Thought this was quite cool; 30s of following Murphy's headlamp, handheld

Moon bathes Tahoe basin

We make it back to the parking lot no worse for the wear; night missions aren't always the first thing to spring to mind, but they rarely disappoint!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Sawpit Gully

On a stormy fall day during a great visit from d^2, we pile out to Arrowtown for a little bit of walking in the woods, which has been proven to be good for the soul by 4 out of 5 dentists.

Approaching Arrowtown

One thing that can't be denied is that rainfall on fall colors looks really good, so we know we'll be in for a visual treat, even if the rest of the day sucks, which it doesn't.

Hike starts here

The Sawpit Gully track blasts out the back of Arrowtown and follows the Arrow River for a while before it turns sharply up and left.


Pipeline w/ model

Much yellow

As the track climbs out of the river gorge, we're treated to awesome views, thanks in no small part to steadily improving weather.

View back towards Arrowtown; swollen river!

We then follow a new canyon north for a while until we reach the high point of the track and start to loop back around towards Arrowtown. Somewhere along this new canyon, the storm breaks and we turn around to see an all-time rainbow view. Worse things have happened!



Towards the top of this canyon, the stream has overrun its banks and has chosen the hiking track as its next best course. Keeping feet and legs dry is a valiant effort for about 30 seconds, and then it's simply not worth it.

Awwwww goats

We make a short side-hike at the top of the track for what we hope is a view down into Arrowtown, but it's just a sweet view over Lake Hayes one way and up into the mountains the other way.

Peak to the north

Lake Hayes

Splash of color

As we dive back down towards Arrowtown, we re-enter the brilliant fall colors and do our best to not slip on the muddy track. Guess it's rained a good bit!


Down the path

Cool lichen

While the weather was quite poor earlier in the day, getting out amongst it was by far the wise choice. Usually is!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Neighborhood Stroll

Getting Samuel Murphy-Drake to NZ was painful, frustrating, expensive, and protracted. However, this is not a post about cats. Sorry?

Long story short, promptly after getting the fur-face here, he went and disappeared for three days. In between being genuinely concerned for his sense of "home" after the long journey and bouts of swearing to wring his neck should I find him, I spent several hours each day canvassing the neighborhood looking for His Highness.

Finally, these walks started to feel like formalities, so I took my camera along.

Perhaps these photos were a subconscious effort to calm my mind; I'll admit to being pretty worried for the little bugger's welfare. And of course, he came back in the middle of the third night like nothing had happened. Bastard.


Past Detritus