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!

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