5. Oban – North Arm – Freshwater River

Wednesday, February 15: Sunny with variable cloud, light rain showers towards evening

Tramping: 22.9 km

Freshwater Hut (Doc)

Rippled clouds at dawn, Oban
Rippled clouds at dawn, Oban

Today was the day to try to redeem the tramp on Stewart Island. I had slept four hours in one go for the first time on this trip, and was up soon after 7:00. With the first of the hiking breakfasts out of the way – the egg was well cooked, yolk was not dried out, but one or two pieces of shell were a bit tenacious – I pushed what I could into the pack, and everything else went into the small sports bag. Unfortunately my key didn’t open the room labelled “Storage” so I put a note on the bag and left it on the bed. Then it was off to the track. Read more…

4. Invercargill – Oban

Tuesday, February 14: Heavy rain overnight, heavy showers, lightning on Stewart Island

Walking: 3.2 km

Bunkers Backpackers, 13 Argyle St., Halfmoon Bay, double room upstairs, all amenities downstairs ($74)

Sleep was still fairly fragmented but I let everyone else get up and underway before I went down at 8:15. All were almost ready to go when I started on breakfast. Pretty soon the house was quiet. Had a quick look on the internet, could see that the rain was going to clear over the next couple of days.

Had my remaining two peaches & started to organise the stuff for today. Found five eggs that could be boiled, although they were very different sizes. Tried to avoid eggs that were already cracked, brought some water to boil and plonked them in, waited 30 seconds after the water had returned to boil, threw about half of the ice cubes in and took the heat off for the remaining 10 minutes as the water appeared to be at the right temperature. One of the larger eggs had lost a bit of white (but not too much), removed the water, added the remaining ice cubes to cool the eggs, and when the ice had melted I dried the eggs and packed them away in a plastic container (no egg cartons to be found). Read more…

3. Invercargill – Final Preparations

Monday, February 13: Heavy rain overnight, clearing by morning, with rain again in the afternoon

Walking: 6.0 km

Randa’s

Sleep resembled the real McCoy more closely last night, including a dream or two, and by the time I was up (8:30) nearly everyone else was ready to go. The breakfast toast was improved on no end by the vegemite. I emptied the dishwasher before settling down to work: There was an expression of interest from Bunkers Backpackers about more detail for the kayak trip and an email from JR Duty Free about the missing Bundy. I eventually abandoned the enterprise of getting my duty free delivered as there was no promise of anything arriving anywhere, and even their refunds policy seemed a little iffy. Either I sent the credit card details by unsecured email; or I called them with them, which I decided to do in the course of the afternoon. Read more…

2. Invercargill

Sunday, February 12: Some rain in the early morning, windy & overcast

Swimming: 1600 m
Walking: 13.8 km

Randa’s

Sleep was more like napping for 2 hours a go, until about 5:00 when the mode changed to dozing. In any case I was up just after 7:00 when Randa & Gonsalo were finishing breakfast. I was introduced to the kitchen and got hold of some cornflakes, coffee & toast. Gonsalo was on his way to Queenstown for a couple of days and left soon after. Randa started on her story – at least in the brief version – and I was able to start walking on the way to the swimming pool for what I hoped was pool practice with the local kayak club. Was greeted every now & then by joggers, and just before reaching the pool asked a passerby where exactly it was, and was directed to it, not far away, but not where I thought it was. Paid about $4.5 (which would have been for a senior!), went into the building, waited around for the kayak people to turn up, asked around every once in a while, admired the boats, went back to the reception & asked to call them to see what they were up to as it was passed the time they had told me they were starting at. The session had been cancelled, pity they hadn’t told me anything about it. Read more…

1. Auckland – Christchurch – Invercargill

Saturday, February 11: Sunny in Auckland & Christchurch, variable cloud around and fairly warm, high clouds in Invercargill

Randa’s ($50, airbnb)

For the final couple of hours I managed three episodes of Attenborough’s Planet Earth II. Nice pictures, but apart from the repetitious test to the point of being cliched, there was something worrying about Attenborough’s treatment of competition, which didn’t appear to be conceptually uniform. Nor was his use of contact clauses, by the way, with one or two being quite pithy and the remainder fell into the category of up with which I will not put.

Only really missed out on Mars, but not sure whether that would have been missing out on much. But it did occur to me that the Gemini story had led indirectly to massive improvements in civil aviation, if not civilian space travel or even space tourism. Read more…