Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20th, 2009 - Wanaka, New Zealand

Today, Jon took us out into a canyon behind the mountains that flank Lake Wanaka. This huge valley, offering amazing views of the high peaks including Mt. Aspiring and providing access to several high mountain huts, is all owned by a single family who still farms and raises sheep on it. They also happen to have purchased three helicopters and are positioned to provide optimal access to prime heli-skiing. As a remnant of how “runs” were distributed during the initial colonization, much of the land in New Zealand is leased from the government in 99 year terms. A process is currently underway to convert this property to freehold land. The process usually involves the farmers releasing their “unusable” land – the steep faces and mountain tops – back to the government in exchange for full ownership of the rest. Not a bad deal for them and the more remote and scenic locations remain untouched.

From 2009-01-18 Australia and New Zealand

Our goal for the day was a lunch beneath the hanging Rob Roy Glacier. As we approached the trailhead, the road went from twisty tarmac to gravel with creek fords every few minutes. All I could think about is what a great motorcycle ride it would be. If you're ever in the neighborhood on a dual sport bike, it's a must-do. The hike wasn't half bad either winding through sheep and cow pastures with views of jagged peaks in the distance. Across a suspension bridge (with mandatory pictures taken) the track (this means “trail” in New Zealish) followed a river drainage for a couple hours up to a clearing just below the hanging glacier. Keas were out in force playing tricks on the hikers. One would pose dramatically in front of a waterfall while another snuck behind to rifle through a pack. Very mischievous.

From 2009-01-18 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-18 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-18 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-18 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-18 Australia and New Zealand

Just an observation. On all these hikes, everyone is carrying a daypack. For some reason, Ann and I always have everything we need and more but only carry one pack between the two of us.
Back in town, we had a little time to hit a couple sporting goods stores and a pharmacy to try to figure out a solution for an aggravated Achilles tendon that had been bugging Ann on the hikes. A solution did not necessarily present itself so the next option involved taking a pocket knife to the back of the shoe and “reconfiguring” with duct tape.

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