Dan (bet you thought I had stopped writing these things)
So a week into New Zealand and the weather is a bit shit, fondly remembered towns from our last trip are grim and depressed, then add to the mix a never ending cold I picked up a couple of weeks before departure and Heather picked up days before departure and what you have is a pair of underwhelmed travelers. Of course the old cliche of bad day travel is better than a good day at the office or having your testicles mangled in a meat grinder, I may have paraphrased a touch there, still holds true. I however say bollocks to that I am a traveler; an adventurer; a man of the world, every day should be fan-bloody-tastic.
Let me first address the weather lie, what is that you may ask, and to you I say hold your horses I am obviously getting to that, patience is a virtue don’t you know. Thirteen long years ago a wide eyed handsome young traveler, me, first set foot onto the land of the kiwi. Fresh from its sun and lager soaked neighbor I expected more sun, more lager and the odd hobbit. The ubiquitous Tui’s lager flowed in bountiful quantities, but hobbits were very thin on the ground, and the weather was appalling. The weather misbehaved consistently for the six weeks I was there, all the locals told me “ooooh this is our worst summer in years, it never normally rains this much”. Well fast forward to today, thirteen years have passed and the weather is crap, and the locals are trotting out the same line they did all those years ago. Either they are all delusional or they a fibbing to the tourists, either way it appears to me that good old NZ is not the sunny paradise I had envisioned. Granted we have only been here a week, we have five more for the weather to turn around. After all yesterday when drying the tent the sun did grace us with its presence, and in that 10 mins or so I did manage to get a sunburn.
Why was my now scarlet face drying our tent? Well, our first hike in New Zealand was an unmitigated wet, muddy, cloudy, windy flop. A little vexing as the principal reason for visiting was to hike or as the kiwis like to call it tramp. The Tongariro Circuit, one of the Great Walks is supposed to be a breath taking journey of emerald lakes and volcanic peaks. Sadly we didn’t get to experience any of this. We made it to the first hut in short order despite the conditions, the weather was forecast to improve the following days so as we settled in for a wet windy night we were cautiously optimistic about the next days hiking. This optimism was alas misguided, as we cleaned up from breakfast the hut ranger gave us an updated weather forecast. It wasn’t good, there was expected to be zero visibility for “the crossing” which is the jewel in the crown of this hike. Impressively the DOC who caretake most of NZ’s tracks and staff the huts have a policy of offering refunds in adverse weather condition. After walking for five months on the Appalachian Trail come rain or shine, the thought of bailing out of a four day hike because of a bit of bad weather seemed wrong, but I wasn’t paying $28 bucks a night to suffer on the AT. In the end we decided to retreat, get our refund and head to the South Island. Next stop the Queen Charlotte Track and hopefully sunshine.