FiNZ 40 – Avalanche Peak

I can’t believe we’re finally at week 40 of my “Flanders in New Zealand” posts. Only a few months shy of a year! This past weekend was ideal in terms of summer south island weather – warm, sunny, no wind. Therefore, Keith, I and a couple of coworkers (Mike & Erin) headed out to Arthur’s Pass to do one of the most difficult day hikes around — Avalanche Peak!

To get to the summit (1833 m / 6014 m), you climb a fairly steep 1105 m / 3625 ft (almost like Mt Washington in terms of elevation) along the Avalanche Peak Trail and then descend a slightly less steep Scott’s Track to get back to the start. Keith decided to pseudo run it, Mike power-walked, and luckily Erin and I were able to stick with a pretty consistent pace after the other two crazies. The Avalanche Peak Trail was definitely more intense than any great walk; however still a fairly well-kept trail. Way to go DOC! Right from the start you were scrambling up rocks but everything was really well-marked. I have to admit we got towards the top and I realized I brought my nice camera with NO SD card! Our iPhones had to do for this hike. Check out our day above the bushline below…

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Myself trudging up towards the summit

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made it to the top!

Flanders Hiking Photo of the Week —

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Team Avalanche Peak

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Myself, Erin, Keith on the way dooooooown

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Mike, Keith and Erin on the way down Scott’s Track

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Looking back towards Mt Rollston

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Keith started bounding down the mountain again….

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Mt Rollston

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One last panorama shot near the summit

The DOC times the loop at 6-8 hours, we surprisingly finished in about 5! We were back to Christchurch and enjoying some local tacos in no time. I don’t think I’ll ever get over how easy it is to enjoy this beautiful country in just a day trip.

Sunday was the last day of the Buskars Festival. The only act left that I really wanted to catch was the “English Gents” – a duo of strong men that do some pretty crazy lifting acts. Keith obliged and we’re both glad we made it, they were pretty incredible! There last acts involved one partner holding himself up on the others head and then the finale involved one lifting the other starting lying down and slowly going into a standing position. The pair actually ended up winning the “iron chicken” of the festival – meaning they were the best act!

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The English Gents

We’re both pretty excited to welcome Keith’s mom to New Zealand this Friday! It will be a fun couple weekends of playing tour guide to family. (have I mentioned how much we love visitors?!)

Until next week…

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FiNZ 39 – Hitchhiking, Caving, Waterfalls, and BUSKERS! oh my

Most weekends, if we don’t have a big trip planned in advance, our days end up being pretty spontaneous or really just based on the weather. We’ve been waiting for a warm weekend day to try out “Cave Stream.” Trudging through water in a damp cave just didn’t seem enjoyable all winter or spring. Therefore, Saturday was the day! After a run we hoped in the car and drove west. Well…first we picked up a hitchhiker and then all of us drove west. Ever since we felt guilty about plowing by three ladies on the side of the road a few months ago Keith and I agreed we would pick up the next hitchhiker we saw (as long as they didn’t look too crazy). I would NEVER do this in the U.S. In New Zealand hitchhiking is just how people travel, it’s a way of life or a right of passage for the international traveler!

So our new friend Ryan hoped in the car and we had a good hour-long conversation about his homeland of the Netherlands, how he took a year off of teaching high school chemistry to travel the world with his girlfriend, and how he was heading into the woods of Arthur’s Pass for 2 weeks of intense backpacking before his girlfriend arrived to do some lighter hiking. Quite enjoyable!

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West Coast Road Views

We pulled into the cave stream reserve and sent Ryan on his way. There were a ton of people parked in the parking lot…of course, per usual, Keith and I walked to the mouth of the cave and no one was to be seen. I’m pretty sure tourists show up and take a look at the cave and don’t dare to enter…or are just not prepared with headlamps…or don’t think they’ll get so wet…or are scared away by the scary DOC signage.

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Cave elevation

Enough of my coworkers have raved about cave stream that we were pretty prepared. I wore spandex, Keith wore a bathing suit, we both wore sneakers (highly recommended!), and we both brought a whole lot of light sources.

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At the cave entrance

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Beginning the walk

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Navigating

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Extreme caver

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Plowing through the water

A couple of parts of the cave were waist deep, but otherwise we were trudging around in flowing water about ankle or knee-deep.

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Some deep parts

I’m not a huge lover of confined spaces, but this was pretty cool. After the 500 m cave jaunt, I realized I would definitely do this again, or at least take more friends to come enjoy!

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Standing in water! ahh!

The end was the diciest part–you have to climb up 3 m to get out. Luckily, the DOC helped us out by anchoring in some ladder steps and providing a chain and a little step so one can crawl along the ledge (see the lady in pink below). I would not recommend doing it backwards like the photo below, but to each their own!

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The climb out

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Success!

Afterwards the day was still young, it was still light out, so why not keep driving to Arthur’s Pass? Neither of us had done the short hike to Devils Punchbowl waterfall, so why not?

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Arthur’s Pass – Devils Punchbowl Waterfall

It was a pretty easy/quick hike (although a lot of steps to climb) for an amazing view.

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The money shot

On Sunday we decided to check out the World Buskers Festival! Know what a busker is? Neither did I, but basically its a fancy word for a street performer. Famous street performers travel in from all over the world to perform in Christchurch for 10 full days. It has been a pretty fun time thus far! On Sunday we saw a Minnesotan juggle a knife and fire while riding a 12′ tall unicycle, a man juggle 5 basketballs, and a guy oddly throw multiple rubber bands around his face (talk about weird!).

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Basketball Jones, Rubber Band Boy, and Pro Unicycle

Last night a few colleagues and us went to see the nightly buskers comedy festival. “Donations” were $10 each and it was such a funny night. The show included 3 comedians and a hilarious MC. We all left with a pretty permanent smile – a great way to end hump day.

On to this weekend where the weather is looking good once again!