Sunday, March 29, 2009

Screaming O MTB Race

The Orongorongo Track

Hoop bridge near the end of the track

Looking down the Orongorongo River

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shamrock Hut and Mt Matthews

Mt Matthews is the highest peak that we can see across Wellington Harbour and a peak we have been aiming to conquer for a while. The problem is that it is a very long/hard day walk - with a 3 hour walk in/out. So when Barbara and Sam booked Shamrock Hut in the Orongoronga valley for the weekend we eagerly accepted the offer to join them and several friends to climb Mt Matthews.

We walked in on Friday night - after the compulsary stop for "Fush and Chups" on the way to the trailhead. We set off in the light - but it soon turned dark, which made the track finding a little interesting at times, as it wasn't easy to spot the orange triangles that were 100 m apart and parts of the track were somewhat overgrown! Our walk was also slowed by 2 idiots who were trying to walk up the track to another hut in the pitch black. They walked in amongst us using our light to walk. It reminded me of doing the 24 hour mountain bike races when people's lights died and they tried to use you to guide them around the course!

Shamrock Hut

We got to the little hut around 9:30pm and after a cup of tea and some cake we all retreated to our sleeping bags. The next morning the weather was still nice - despite the threatening weather forecast. So Sam, Aaron and Helen set off up Mt Matthews with our day packs. The others spent the day exploring the upper half of the Orongoronga river valley.

Half way up Mt Matthews - Aaron, Sam and Helen

The walk up Mt Matthews is very steep in places. You found yourself holding on to trees and roots to pull yourself up some sections. Eventually we made it to the top after 3 hours. We had walked about 4 km and climbed 750 m. Admittedly we hadn't been racing! Unfortunately the views from the top were intermittent, with the odd gap in the clouds allowing the view down to Lake Ferry and across to Cape Palliser. We had lunch on the top, and Aaron and I participated in our first Geocache - a whole new world of reasons to go places!

The walk back down took almost as long as the climb up and we made it back to Shamrock Hut just before the rain hit - perfect timing. Barbara had organised for each of us to provide a different part of dinner. It turned in to quite an impressive affair with pasta carbonara followed by meringes with cream and berry coulis provided by Grace.

Barbara cooking yummy pasta dinner

Andrew and Dee watching the dinner preparations from the top bunks

It rained and rained all night.... so we had a lazy morning in the hut with Andrew and Dee cooking us banana buckwheat pancakes and making proper italian coffee. Definitely no slumming this weekend. We played a couple of rounds of charades and another game while we waited for the rain to stop. Around 12pm we decided it wasn't really going to stop - but at least it wasn't heavy. So we packed up and set off down the river valley. After all the rain the river crossings were a lot more interesting on the way back than they had been on Friday and Saturday when we had managed to keep our feet dry by jumping between rocks.

Aaron crossing a rather deeper, faster flowing river after all the rain over night and most of the morning.

Danny and Grace (the smurfs) crossing the suspension bridge heading back on Sunday afternoon

We got back to the cars - rather wet and a little chilled. It was a fun weekend. Shame winter is coming and the days are getting shorter.....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Yesterday Helen and I attended Homegrown - a music festival that celebrates New Zealand bands. They split the venue up into different stages to suit different genres of music - rock, indie, electronic and dub & roots. We spent most of the day at the "rock" stage.

The first band was Streetwise Scarlet. I was only familiar with one of their songs which was the theme to a C4 (music television channel) commercial. There weren't very many people there when they started as it was only 2:00pm. We weren't very far from the stage and it was awesome! The sound was a bit rough but these guys were amazing. They were so good I actually went and bought their CD.

Next up was Goodnight Nurse. We have their newest CD and were one of the reasons to get tickets. They were even better that Streetwise Scarlet! They played some of their older stuff which I hadn’t heard but really liked. They played covers of Blink 182’s “Dumpweed” and Nelis “Milkshake” which were both really good.

After them was Elemeno P. Another band I first heard as the theme music to a TV commercial (Telecom this time). I wouldn’t really call these guys rock and wasn’t all that impressed. Some of their stuff was pretty good.

By this time we needed some food so decided to take a break and find some food. We also checked a few of the other venues to see what they were like.

After food we headed back to the “rock” stage and caught the end of Evermore. We got hear “running” probably their most recognizable song. Next up was Op Shop. These guys were probably biggest surprise of the day. I expected them to be more soft rock but much of the stuff they played was fairly heavy and the sound was great!

Blindspott came up next. They were super heavy with kind of a Nu metal (rap-rock sound). THe first half of their set was a bit to load and over the top (guess I am getting old). The second half slowed down a bit and was much better.

The final band was Supergroove who were also pretty good.

All in all, we had 10-11 hours of music for less than $100. Great deal and we will probably be back next year.