Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Snorkelling at Princess Bay

Yesterday was quite warm and so we decided it was time to brave the water on Wellington's south coast. The water is still quite cold and despite the number of kids splashing around in just swimmers we donned full wet suits. It was quite cold.... I was wishing I had a fancy hood like Dave and Kareen. Princess Bay is within the Wellington south coast marine reserve so has some pretty good wildlife. We saw lots and lots of seaweed and kelp. Quite a few fish and a couple of Paua (abalone) which locals often dive for their dinner - but not in the reserve.

Kareen and Dave ready to get in.

Helen's silouhette.


Paua Shell (abalone) on the pink coralline algae and surrounded by seaweed.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boxing day paddle

Woke up on Boxing Day and the water in Evans Bay was glassy - perfect day for a paddle. Unfortunately Aaron is not able to kayak at the moment - so I rang a friend who came over. We loaded up "Betty" on to the car and drove over the hill to Worser Bay. We then paddled along the coast in and out of the rocks and amongst the seaweed and kelp forests to Scorching Bay. We had a quick stop to admire Jo's daughter Neve's sand castle (she went to the beach with dad while we were enjoying the paddle). We then carried on around the Miramar Peninsular to Evans Bay.

Scorching Bay, looking out towards the Wellington Harbour entrance

Jo in the front of "Betty" paddling the glassy calm Evans Bay, Wellington Harbour

On the way back the wind picked up a little - a light southerly - so we had to put a little bit of effort in to paddling. We timed it perfectly.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas orphans

We had a very relaxing Christmas with some friends. The pouring rain finally stopped early in the morning and the sun came out around 11am. Various other Christmas orphans turned up at different times of the day and we spent the day sitting on our deck eating lots of yummy food and playing games!

This is our attempt to burn off some of the calories - playing an energetic game of twister. Aaron unfortunately was not able to join in due to his painful back, but he helped out eating the goodies!

Playing twister on the deck - Kareen, Helen, Dave and Steve.

Gardening success!

So my potatoes started to die back - which according to mum meant that they are finally ready to dig up. This is two potato plants worth of pink potatoes - and I found a few more in the soil later as well. They were very tasty just boiled with some butter and salt.

Pink potatoes

My carrots on the other hand were a little less impressive - some would even say alien like - supposedly the result of too many stones in the soil...

Freshly pulled out carrots

Alien carrots!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Biking with Sarah and Dan

Sarah and Dan flew over to Christchurch for the holidays. I decided that I would fly down for the weekend before Christmas and join them for a few days of mountain biking. I arrived in Christchurch Friday evening. Early Saturday morning it began raining. And it rained and rained and rained all day Saturday. After a chat with some folks at the B.A.S.I.C. bike shop they recommended giving the Port Hills a day or so to dry out.

Sunday morning the rain finally stopped and things started to dry out. We decided to head out to Bottle Lake an area near the coast that was meant to hold up to wet weather pretty well. The trails were fast and pretty flat, but also quite fun to ride if you could keep the pace up. After we did one loop of the tracks that took about an hour, Dan headed back in for some more while Sarah and I had a bit of a break. There were some cool looking skinnies and a dirt jump park at the parking lot. I was playing on the beginner skinny for quite a while trying to get all the way around. it was probably 100 metres long with a see saw in the middle. After many attempts I did finally manage to ride it all in one go.

Before we left I had one more go. Got past the see saw and was going around the corner and started to come off. I pulled up on the bars as I came off so that I would not "nose-dive" off. Unfortunately, I pulled up a little to hard. I landed on the back wheel and proceeded to tip over backward and land on my back. I was able to get up and ride back to the house.

The next morning my back was pretty stiff and sore. I got up slowly and went to get some milk out of the fridge. I had pain shoot through my back and nearly passed out. It was then I decided a trip to A&E might not be such a bad idea.

Getting checked out in the Emergency Department.

We were in and out in under two hours and I was fine. Just soft tissue injury and I was going to be stiff and sore for the few weeks. After the hospital I stayed at home while Dan and Sarah went off to explore the Port Hills. Poor Sarah was attacked by a sheep and came off her bike, suffering some nasty gravel rash on her elbows.

Today, battered and bruised we might have a bit of break and do something different.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend with Sam

The advantage of having an international conference in Wellington means that you get friends come to visit. Sam Burgess, a friend from Australia, came over for the Deep Sea Corals Conference that I had been persuaded to attend, not that I work on deep sea corals! So after a week of sitting around listening to lots of fascinating talks, talking to lots of people and drinking a little too much alcohol we finally got a chance to catch up and go play. The weekend weather even cooperated and we had two fine sunny, and not too windy, days.

Saturday we paddled out to Mana Island with a couple of friends, Gavin and Andrew. It took over an hour to get out to the island as the swell was quite rough. Fortunately the beach on the island is quite sheltered so it was relatively easy to land. After all that exercise we sat down in the sun and had a very civilised lunch of red wine, bread, cheese and crackers, with coffee and cake to finish off!

Sam and Helen in "Betty", our double kayak

Very civilised picnic on Mana Island
We then gently strolled to the top of the island, with great views back across to the coast and north to a rather hazy Kapiti Island. Just as we were getting back down to the beach we finally spotted one of the rare Takahe in the bushes (very large Pukeko or Swamp Hens). Unfortunately it was too shy for a photo.

Andrew, Sam, Gavin and Helen at the top of Mana Island - where the old lighthouse used to be.

The sea state had completely changed by the time we paddled back at 4pm. It was very calm and much easier to paddle, although we did have to deal with a small surf getting back into the beach at Titahi Bay. Gavin, Sam and I all managed, but Andrew took a bit of a swim - fortunately the water was pretty warm. Sam and I even went for a dip after paddling to cool off.

On Sunday we took the opportunity to go for a days tramp in the Tararua's north of Wellington. We picked up Sam's friend Dan and drove over to the Wairarapa. We headed up the Kiriwhakapapa road and walked up to Blue Range Hut. This a short, but steep walk ~650 m of ascent over 3 km.
The steep walk up through the forest.
We made it to the top of the ridge in about 1 and a half hours and found a nice flattish rock to have lunch on with views across to Mitre Peak.

Sam, Aaron and Dan having lunch

Sam looking across to Mitre Peak
The descent down was almost as slow as the climb up... but we made it down by 3pm, with enough time to visit a couple of wineries on the way home.
A great weekend in the outdoors enjoying the wonderful summer weather - but now my shoulders are sore from kayaking and my legs are sore from walking. I need a couple of days to recover!