Sunday, February 28, 2010

Matt and Nicole's wedding, Queensland

We headed over to Queensland for a long weekend to go to a friend's wedding 3 hours east of Brisbane at Wallangara, right on the border with New South Wales. We expected it to be stinking hot, but it turned out that even from a Wellington perspective it was a little cool at times. We were up at almost 1000m, and it even snows there in Winter. I never knew that it snowed in Queensland. Fortunately it stopped raining for the wedding as I don't believe there was a back-up plan for the outdoor venue in front of a lake at Girraween National Park.

The married couple

Aaron, Sarah, Prof Dave Ellis, Anna and Alistair (aka Beaker)

The reception was held at the community hall. It sounds like the whole community was involved in the wedding. All the food came from local gardens and farms and was cooked by the rural women's association. All the decorations and outfits for the bride, bridesmaids etc.. were made by Nicole's mum who is a seamstress and according to everyone we spoke to - she also runs the whole town!

It turns out there are also a few wineries around the area. I have never heard of Queensland or New England wines, but Sarah and I of course had to taste test a few of them and decide for ourselves if they were any good. They weren't too bad.

There are a whole bunch of National Parks around. Bald Rock National Park is just over the border in New South Wales. We drove out there and climbed up the rock on Sunday morning. It is pretty spectacular and from the top you can see great views across the countryside. It reminded us of a smaller, Australian version of Yosemite.

Bald Rock the largest Granite rock in the southern hemisphere

Aaron walking down the face of Bald Rock

There were quite a few little rock wallabies around, we also saw an echidna and heard lots of kookaburras.

Rock wallaby

The bush and country towns reminded us of places around Canberra. It was nice to catch up with a few people from ANU as well. We hope Matt and Nicole are having a lovely relaxing honeymoon in Vanuatu.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rimutaka Rail Trail and Kaitoke Park

My back has finally improved enough that I managed to get out of the house and have some fun this weekend. Saturday, Helen and I went for a ride up a Makara. We managed to do a pretty crusiy grand loop. Wow, it was fun to finally get back out on the mountain bike!

Sunday, was another nice day so we decided to go for a bit of adventure. We headed up towards the Rimutakas to ride the rail trail. Another cruisy ride to slowly strengthen up my back.

At the summit of the Rimutaka Rail Trail

Looking back down the valley we just rode up

We then headed over to Kaitoke Regional Park for a picnic. This is where the scenes of Rivendell were filmed for Lord of the Rings. It is an area of natural forest and river. It is a very pretty. We went for a short walk and paddled in the river.

Pakuratahi Forks

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mitre Peak

After planning several other weekends tramping in the Tararuas, just north of Wellington, and then cancelling at the last minute because of southerly gales... finally a weekend where the weather cooperated. Unfortunately it wasn't a long weekend, despite it being Waitangi Day, so we could only do a 2 day tramp rather than a 3 or 4 day. So 4 of us headed up to Mitre Peak. Aaron is still injured so he was left at home to cat sit.

It took 2 and a half hours to walk in to Mitre Flats Hut. Where we stopped for lunch. We dumped out most our stuff from our back packs and reserved our beds for the night before heading off up to Mitre Peak. The nice thing about staying in the huts is all you need is a sleeping bag. Mitre Flats Hut even has stoves. So this saves you a lot of weight not carrying a tent.
Mitre Flats Hut

It is 1000 m of ascent from the hut to the peak and it took 3 sweaty hours. 1 and a half to the tree line and then another 1 and a half along the tops. I love walking along the tops in the Tararuas, there are some great views and the alpine plants are very different. Just as we were getting towards Peggy's Peak the clouds came in, but when we were on the top we did get some sunshine. It was warm and there was hardly any wind. Very weird for the Wellington region.
Alpine plants

Helen and Bec ascending ridge up Peggy's Peak - just before the Mitre Peak summit.

View to the north

Alice and Carolyn sitting on the cairn on the top with the Wairarapa in the background. The sun came out for us at the top.

It took almost as long to get back down from the peak - 2 and a half hours, and most of us had run out of water as it was so hot. We got back to the hut around 7pm and had a very refreshing wash in the river next to the hut. After 8 hours of walking we were tired. We had dinner and pretty much collapsed in to bed.

Next morning we waited until most of the other trampers in the hut had gone before getting going and walked back out along the valley. There was a light breeze, which was a very welcome change from the day before. It was still very hot, so when we got down to the river again we cooled off with a swim and relaxed on the river bank eating lunch. Until the sandflies annoyed us enough to start moving again.

Carolyn braving the rather cold water!

It was a great weekend. Weather was almost perfect (just a little too warm). The company was great and it was nice to escape Wellington for a few days. Thanks girls.