Pinnacles and Sheep

– the Journal winners go to Christchurch and beyond

image021Late 2009 we were happily surprised by Tony and Jackie announcing we had won tickets to Christchurch with our journal contribution. As people often mention Chch itself is not too exciting, but it is a great gateway to the Alps, Kaikouras and Banks Peninsula, so we were happy to leave the exact destination for this Queen’s Birthday up to the last moment. At least, that’s what we thought back then….

Between late 2009 and early June 2010 the weather forecast for the Canterbury region had significantly deteriorated, showing rain, snow, hail and uncomfortably low temperatures. Also the Ministries of Finance and Energy had gone to great lengths to cut the amount of daylight hours as part of a greater plan to keep people indoors. Although it’s still highly secret: this plan aims to reduce traffic, congestion and transport fuel; it will increase road safety, creativity and productivity, reliance on Sky and broadband, and most of all, you don’t need too much outdoors as there’s no daylight to admire it – might as well mine it? In addition to these promising conditions Mika injured her knee two weeks before departure which impacted on the possible range of activities. So what’s wrong with a glass of wine and a wood fire, enjoying mountainous views?

A rental jellybean was waiting for us, keen to show its engine power driving up to Porters pass. Indeed quicker than cycling, but it might be the 4×4 closely behind us actually pushed the jellybean uphill. Anyway, after some photo stops and a 2nd lunch near Cass we convinced the little Dinky Toy to cross a real ford, and took a gravel road south to Lake Coleridge.

image022Arriving at Glenthorne Station, overlooking the lake and having a wood fire (theirs), wine (ours) and impressive views (see photos), we were quickly convinced we could leave the car and spend some time while relaxing in comfortable deck chairs reading a book – oh sorry, tramping down to the lake, crossing creeks, fences and muddy patches, to get hungry before dinner was served.

It wasn’t until difficult decisions were taken early the next day (One or two eggs? Bacon and tomato? Sausages? More coffee?) that we split up: Mika exploring some gravel roads by car, and making photos, while Hans set out for a six hour tramp in a sleety drizzle. Some of the photos are shown here, so let’s focus on the tramping bit: reaching the snow at 900 metres, a clear track followed the passage between Mt.Ida and some even higher but invisible summits, passing a small lake and some tarns on the way. Coming towards the Harper river the mixture of clay soil, Merino sheep droppings (can’t tell the difference from normal droppings) and snow gave way to large pebbles and fast flowing water of unknown depth.

image024 image025The highlight of the tramp supposedly were the Pinnacles, situated across the Harper, so assisted by a big stick the water temperature was tested – yak! After having seen the Pinnacles near Cape Palliser, these ones seemed midgets but there were dozens of them. Varying from less than a metre to probably five metres, it seemed like a metropolis of giant ant colonies but without any creepy crawlies. Certainly worth a visit if you’re in the area! With one river and 10k to go to the pick-up point, Hans started counting sheep but probably missed a few of the 8000 merinos. Being satisfied that there was at least an element of tramping in this trip, the rest of the weekend was spent reading interesting books about tramping.

Coming back to the big government plan: it’s of course the perfect time now to write an article for the journal! Remember those words on creativity and productivity? Jacky and Tony will happily receive it, and in the end all of you will appreciate it!

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