Monday, May 2, 2011

Weekend Adventures!

Having just spent the last 9 years of my life in Juneau, where you must travel by boat or plane if you wish to go beyond the main 47 mile stretch of road, I have come to appreciate roads, that is those that connect to other places.  Of course part of the charm of Juneau, in my  opinion, is the fact that it is quite isolated, due to the proximity of the sea, steep mountains, glaciers and icefield, which make building a road that connects Juneau to other places difficult.  [For those who are not from Juneau, there has been ongoing debate for a very long time about building a road from Juneau]  Needless to say, I rarely found myself craving the open road while in Juneau because the landscape just didn't allow it and I was quite content hiking on familiar trails and viewing the glacier, well that never got old.  Now, living in Dunedin, I have fallen into the habit of leaving town for the open road just about every other weekend.  
From a mountain south of Dunedin, looking over farmland.

Our most frequent destination has been the Catlins.  The Catlins is the southeast region of the south island and is only about 1.5 hours drive from Dunedin.  We have spend several nights camping at purakaunui beach, which is also good for surfing.
Waking up to a sunny day!  Quite unusual in the Catlins.
The last time we were in the Catlins I started to feel home sick for Juneau, the physical place that is, and I think it's because, of the other places I've been on the south island, the Catlins feels the most wild.  There are sea lions, penguins and dense flora.  Shortly after arriving in NZ, there was a news story of sea lions chasing cars and laying on tents in the Catlins.  This gives the place a slight sense of the possibility of danger and excitement, which evokes a familiar feeling after coming from a place with frequent encounters with bears and other large mammals.  There is also a feeling of isolation in this region, the roads are a mix of gravel and paved [paving has only recently occurred - check out my friend Molly's blog post on the Catlins to read more].  Overall, the Catlins has become an area close to my heart.  Here are some more photos from other places in the Catlins:
Looking to the sea from inside cathedral caves
One of many sandy beaches in the Catlins
Yellow-eyed penguin waiting for it's mate to return from fishing
The trail through a sheep paddock to slope point, the southern post point on the south island!
Another beautiful beach on a stunning and lucky sunny day!
Molly and I headed away one weekend for a girls only adventure.  We left on a Friday evening and drove 4 hours to Mt. Cook where we set up the tent amongst a stunning starry sky.  We spent the next two days hiking, eating, conversing and relaxing.  Here are some photos:
Waking up to a sunny day.
Molly and glaciers
Mt. Cook, just in view
Lunch just for us, had our husbands been around half the lunch would
have been munched before we got a chance to snap a photo!
Molly in her element, photo taking!
A couple months ago Nick worked as a carpenter at a dam in central Otago.  The dam, Benmore dam, is one in a series of dams that supplies power to not only sections of the south island but also to the north island!  The dam was about 2.5 hours drive from Dunedin, so Nick stayed there during the week and then drove back to Dunedin on the weekends.  One weekend I went up to stay with Nick and we explored the area a bit.
From a hike on the mountain above Nick's job site
View from the other side of the mountain
Getting further acquainted with the dam.
More recently we headed away for an extended weekend adventure with Molly and James to hike the Greenstone and Routeburn tracks.  We had a luxurious 5 days of tramping through valleys and over mountains.  Here are a few photos from our trip:
The Greenstone Track
Molly making her way over a slippery swing bridge.
James and his giant pack cover!
The Routburn Track
Nick enjoying the view
On reflection, I suppose that I never really felt the need to get out of town on such a regular basis in Juneau because we were living on the edge of wilderness.  To get out into the mountains and clear my head all I had to do was walk or drive 5-10 minutes and I'd be at a trailhead.  Now, living in a city, I crave getting out for weekend adventures amongst the trees, mountains and waterways.
Fall colors and wine grapes on one of our drives back to Dunedin


Laureen said...

Very beautiful! I still find it hard to think of all of you entering winter time and JNU is sunny, getting warmer and the greenery is impatiently bursting forth from the warming soil. Your photo of the girls trip lunch failed to mention that the beer would be gone if the boys were with you...!

Molly said...

Ah, such good times. I simply cannot believe you guys have just over 3 months left here! That's crazy! Time goes too fast...