Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas all. We hope that everyone that occasionally reads this blog had a great year and gets a good opportunity to relax with family and friends over the summer.

We had a big year. Little Mae has grown from a baby into a toddler and going along with her on that journey has kept things a changing. Penny began the year at home and is now back working as a Paediatric Registrar. Jamie began the year managing the Valley Flyer & Runciman bus companies and ended it as a house dad.

There are plenty of highlights already recorded in this blog, but looking at the last few months, Tasmaniacs stands out, our annualish reunion with a group of friends, which this year was centred around the Cradle Mountain tramp in Tasmania.

We love taking Mae out in the outdoors, and she seems to love being out there. The Cradle Mountain tramp has motivated us to plan further adventures for this summer while she is still relatively portable (though getting heavy). We are lining up tramps in Nelson Lakes, as well as our local ranges, and bike rides in the Central North Island. The great work done by so many people to create NZ Cycleways is certainly going to benefit the likes of us.

The main purpose of this blog now seems to be to record Mae's development and provide a critical mass of cute photos to family and friends. Here is another one. Immediate family got a whole book load for Christmas. Our secondary goal in providing these photos and trying to live a reasonably enjoyable outdoor life is to encourage our friends to have kids, so they have to go as slow as we do.

We have both been staying reasonably fit, doing bits and pieces of orienteering and mountain running. Penny is a hardcore cycle commuter. Karori to Porirua currently. Jamie and Mae wander around stoat trapping, mtb track building, or on easy days visit Zealandia or the Zoo. We are thinking about playcentre next year which might constrain the lifestyle choices a little.Plenty of plans for summer will report on their outcomes here. Kia kaha and merry Christmas.

Slip n Slide

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Midget Gang

It was great to have Darren Ashmore and Rebecca Smith stay a couple of times recently with their daughter Mia. Mia is very close to Mae in age and what she's into. Mia and Mae were hilarious, the beginnings of a real little midget gang. There is a serious rivalry underpinning this relationship though, Mae will be trained to smash Mia at orienteering to make up for my continued beating at the hands of her father for the last decade.

Spring 2013

Life as a house dad seems more attune, and dependant upon, the seasons than life as bus company manager. The working day is of course meaningless, fridays are when everyone else is more likely to want to drink a beer and weekends stick out only because of the extra company. Spring has brought more light, more rain and more weeds to the 1000 square metres fenced off enclosure of 70 Chamberlain Road.

The washing has been rotting on the line as the Cameila flowers rot on their stalks. The Rhododendron has had more of a prune so we can see more of the neighbours flowering magnolia and the concrete slabs of commercial Karori. The Tui's are so prolific that the other birds keep a very low profile, except for the odd bold kaka. The vegetable garden is fully planted with lots of pony shit added to the mix, and the old rat that used to live in our ceiling has departed this world courtesy of the DOC 200 trap by the compost heap.

The Beards gone now - it was slowing me down uphills.

Maebo continues to grow and amaze us. She is walking now, kind of, she does it best in the nude, but them when she falls without the padding of a nappy she gets a little angry. Our favourite trick at the moment is a family howl, like a pack of wolves. Maebo gets it, both the action and the feeling. She tilts her head back howls, makes eye contact and laughs.

About a month ago we realised Mae was an all-terrain Baby. She now makes us proud by clocking the Ben Burn park playground and regularly summiting various stairways and dodgy banks

Penny's challenge is work/life balance - too much of two good things, and to make the most of the time she gets with Mae, not to bring the days baggage to those moments. Mine has been the problem of having too much time to think, and too much time to regret some of the weak options I have taken. But mostly Mae brings us into the moment and plans for the future are very postive, if a little uncertain as we figure out how to manage having a family, 1.5 careers and some will to contribute to our communities.

We have enjoyed several great occasions recently with friends and family. Penny recently won the Mukamuka Munter mountain race and we are both getting fit for lots of orienteering, running, biking and tramping over summer. I got a little stale for a while with the outdoor life, but have come around to the conclusion that my first instincts in life were pretty good. There is not much more important that enjoying and preserving our outdoors.

Penny rushes past enroute to winning the Mukamuka Munter

Mae and I take a stroll at Catchpool while waiting for Mum

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The end of Winter

It is raining now, on a quiet Thursday morning, but the end of winter has been awesome in Wellington. Balmy days spent running with the buggy, mucking around in the garden and having the odd adventure.

Mae's statesman pose

It hasn't been all about Mae. I even managed to get out for an inflatable mission down the lower Otaki Gorge with Liam Drew (good fun in about 20 cumecs). The surf-ski has also had the odd outing. There has also been orienteering recently on Wrights Hill and Maungakotukutuku, 20 years on I still love orienteering.

Getting a little bored of talking to granny

This week Penny turned 32. We organised with a wine and cheese evening/flash mob on Island Bay Beach. A beautiful sunset and the birthday girl made it just in time after been kept late at work. The 30 odd friends at the beach surprised her, she was expecting a cold and tired Jamie and Mae.

Little friends: Madeline, Harvey and Mae

Madeline and Harvey discussing the ownership of a rabbit

Mae and I have been doing a lot of buggy running. It makes you see tracks and roads in a whole new light. Options are more limited, but it is quite fun figuring out a good loop that is reasonable. Mae seems not to mind these explorations, and generally there is a playground somewhere along the way.

Reading Fisk to figure out why Children are dying in Syria

She actually fluked a couple for the camera

See ya!

Coming up we have a camping weekend in the Tararuas, participation in the Mukamuka Munter Mountain Race, a heap of orienteering and at the end of Spring a trip to Tasmania with a group of friends. Life is good, touch wood.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gran and Grandad

I have had these photos tucked away for a while, and got around to getting them digitised the other day. They are of my Gran and Grandad (Jan and Brian Wilson) and Grandad's brother Evan. Young people having the time of their lives (well at least thats how I imagine it).

Grandad with a friend

Gran with her friends, tramping somewhere

Gran on a glacier

Gran and Grandad, mid 1940's maybe

Evan Wilson

Evan Wilson (and brother Jim) were climbers active in Arthurs Pass in the 1930's. I have his map of the time framed on our wall with its many notations of first ascents and vagaries of travel. I love this photo, very much mountaineer/man at his peak, with a far sighted gaze. Celmisia in his pocket and holding his mates ice axe for the photo - you can't tell me they used two of these beasts.

Evan and Jim's best first ascent in my knowledge was that of Arrowsmith. I couldn't find an account of this scouring the internet, but I found an interesting story nonetheless. They were involved peripherally in a mountain tragedy in 1932 when three trampers were benighted on Whitehorn Pass on the three passes route. One froze to death during the night, the second took off and died after taking a fall in the Taipoiti river while the third headed back west over the Whitehorn and stumbled across prospectors in the vicinity of Park Morpeth Hut.

One of these prospectors was Jim Wilson, who hurried over to Bealey to raise the alarm. The subsequent CMC search party was led by his brother Evan! A clip from papers past below. I will add any further information I find about Evan and Jim's mountaineering time to this post.

(my illusions have been shattered;-) the first ascent of Arrowsmith was actually in 1912. Evan and Jim Wilson, along with Andy Anderson pioneered the south-west ridge in 1931

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Holdsworth Weekend

After a few hectic weekends in a row we were looking forward to heading into the foothills to relax. Mark Hooker had booked out (the much improved) Holdsworth Lodge and filled it up with an array of friends. Great to meet some new people.

Whats that...
The weather was beautiful and this roadend must be the most beautiful in the Tararuas, the forest is so magnificient and the river sparkles its way down the valley. As is habit, we only took photos of Mae. She is just getting to the age where we can put her down in the bush and she can crawl around and not look too vulnerable. In fact she looks quite happy in a garden gnome sort of a way.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Helmet Familiarisation

I decided it would be good to do some helmet familiarisation after the earthquake this morning. Maybe living on the ring of fire babies should all wear helmets at all times;-)

Monday, July 15, 2013


We have been busy - well Penny has, Mae and I just sort of cruise around at a relatively constant pace - somewhere between bobbling and jolting.

Yesterday we arrived back, a day later than expected, from Dunedin where Penny was doing a paediatric life support course. Mae and I had great time cruising around some of the best sights of the city and surrounding hills. Leith Saddle, Swampy summit and the Pineapple track was a great day out, as was Orokonui eco-sanctuary, Victory beach and even dare I say it, the Dunedin Town Belt, which continues to grow taller and darker than I remember.

It was also awesome to catch up with Kate and Matilda and meet the gorgeous Frida. Mae is no longer a little baby in the baby wrestling competitions!

Dunedin Library and Civic Centre has aged well

Swampy Summit is my Moonbase

Sub-alpine baby 1

Sleeping or Sunbathing?

Other recent highlights include Pennys (overall) win in the legendary Winter orienteering classic, and general cuteness

The good old castle box

Runna Momma

Raa - I'm coming to get you!

Friday, June 21, 2013

What to do with teeth

Mae is all for giving her old man lessons: eating plenty of fruit, sleeping regularly, abstaining from alcohol and brushing your teeth.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Kahurangi Point

This is the story of a little family trip to a really cool spot, Kahurangi Point lighthouse.

Back last century I did a 30 day walk with Zane Snook around much of Kahurangi National Park. With limited reading material, the park map we had was pored over, and future missions memorised. Kahurangi Point lighthouse was one of those and finally last month I got there, with Penny and Mae.

Kahurangi Point is more of a change of angles than a peninsula. It signifies the abrupt end of the wild and harsh Heaphy Coast and the beginning of the eastward trending sandy beaches that culminate in Farewell Spit. To get there you keep heading west from Golden Bay to Westhaven (Whanganui) inlet, you pass through the inlets forests and over its causeways, then the limestone farmland and windshaped coast of Paturau before finally getting to the roadend at Anatori. From Anatori it is a 4-8hour walk down the coast to the Lighthouse Keepers hut.

The Wairoa river is one of the many arms of the inlet bridged.

What keeps so many people away from Kahurangi Point, apart for the remoteness of the road and the myriad of other attractions in the region, are the tales of big rivers and sinking sands along the coastline. It is true that there are three places along the 10km coastline that you really want to be at close to low tide; the Anatori Bluffs, Anaweka Estuary Mouth and Big River. This spatial reality morphs a relaxing stroll along a beach into a stressful striding march. The first secret is that the Anatori Bluffs can be taken out of the equation by following the farmroad from Anatori to Turimawiwi this is perhaps the best way in for first timers.

Penny and Mae on the road past Anaatori

The second secret is that the Anaweka mouth and Big River are only about 45 minutes apart and at low tide (and not in flood) they are quite easy wades. The tides times are more similar to Nelson than Colllingwood. We had no trouble, wandering down the coast with the accompaniment of some friendly 4wd bikers. After we crossed big river we relaxed and let Mae play for a while among the sculpted limestone rocks.

There are not many places in New Zealand where limestone meets the sea and this makes for some great reefs and scenery. The reef at Kahurangi Point is a pearler at low tide. Goood sized mussels above the low tide mark, big Octopuses patrolling the pools and a healthy range of reef fish. Next time I am taking my snorkel (and wetsuit).

The hut is quite unique, in that it was initially built for a lighthouse keepers large family (back in those days when two familys could justify the need for a school house). After the Murchison earthquake in the 1920's in which the original houses near the lighthouse was destroyed, the keepers moved to the current site and farmed much of the surrounding land which is now slowly returning to bush. The history is well recorded in the hut which features a school project of one of the daughters describing life there in around the 1940's. The best feature of the hut itself must be the bath which runs off a wetback, a first for me in the NZ backcountry.

Mae tells me she expects a bath in every hut

From the hut there are a few cool little things to do, the reef of course, and you can also explore little tracks and creeks to find the sand pass, which takes you to the beach to the south and the cool little waterfall a little way up Kahurangi stream. There was a boogie board at the hut for the purposes of sand sliding. At low tide you can come back around the coast to the hut and check out the lighthouse (there is no track, just find the route through the likely grove of Nikau.

The odd bit of pingao still survives on the shiftiest dunes
Less hard core than it looks
Kahurangi Point from the South

Because of the tides we began our walk back up the coast around 5am. Mae was well bundled up and loved being out in the moonlight. We didn't need our torches even with the moon at our backs. We were hoping to sneak through the Anatori bluffs but arriving at the start of them the spring tide was too high, and we were being chased by a southerly front, and we had a small baby (the excuses just keep collecting), so we have a new piece of coastline for next time we are down that way. Highly recommended little bit of country.