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Gimpilator
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Gimpilator
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PostMon Mar 14, 2016 11:51 pm 
We landed in Auckland in the evening.  The next morning we picked up the camper van which we had reserved for a month and drove to the city of Rotorua.  Heather was invited to run the Tarawera 100 kilometer ultra-marathon.  We got to the event just in time for her to give her first scheduled talk.  Unfortunately for her, the next day during the race it rained steadily and heavily all day long.  Throughout the day sheets of dense South Pacific storm rain had me wonder how she might be faring out on the course.  I was waiting for her at the finish line and was relieved to see how positive and strong she looked after what must have been a lot of suffering.

finish line
finish line

Our ferry from Wellington to Picton was booked for the next day so we needed to get some of the driving done that night.  10 minutes away from the finish line in Kawerau, the engine in our rental van decided it was hungry and ate the timing belt.  I was driving up a narrow winding road through the dark forest with no shoulder when all the hazard lights came on and the power steering failed and we slowed to a stop.  S**t!  Moment of disbelief.  We paid $4000 NZD for this vehicle.  frown.gif

I called Lucky Rentals and they said it was a holiday weekend and nobody was around, that there was no replacement vehicle for us, and we should just stay with the van. They would send someone around in a few days after the holiday weekend to take a look at it.  I demanded a full refund and told them we were leaving the van where it was with the tow company.  To make a long story short, we lost several days of our itinerary and had to rent another car just to get to Wellington.

Our ferry landed in Picton on February 9th.  We were equipped with a newer service style van, which a local Wellington company had converted to sleep two in the back.  Our consolation was that it was less than half the price of the original rental.

farm road
farm road
starting the Hodder
starting the Hodder

The following day we began our first hike in New Zealand.  We would spend 2 days climbing Tapuae-o-Uenuku, the highest peak in the Kaikoura Range.  Before the trip John Stolk personally recommended this peak for us.  Thanks John!


The interesting thing about Tappy is that the standard approach follows along the Hodder River and requires between 50 and 80 crossings to reach the climbers huts depending on how you go about it.  In a few places it's possible to hop rocks, but for the majority of the crossings you must get your feet wet.  I was very thankful for my Drymax socks.  If you're not familiar with the brand, it's a two layer sock.  The inner layer is hydrophobic and the outer layer is hydrophilic so they really work wonders by pulling water away from your feet.


From the parking area you walk along some farm access roads above the river and then drop down into it.  We followed the narrow gorge making the many crossings until we came to a fork.  Shortly thereafter we found the faint trail leading up the left slopes so as to avoid some sort of impasse along the river.  The path led up and over and back down to the river beyond the impasse.  Following along the river we spotted the climbers huts above.


There was enough time that evening to lounge around the huts and we had them to ourselves.  I found numerous pages of interesting historic information in one hut which I photographed for later use.  The Kaikoura Range actually comprises two parallel ranges close together separated by the remote and difficult to access Clarence River.   Tapuae-o-Uenuku is the high point of the Inland Kaikoura while Manakau is the highest of the Seaward Kaikoura.  For a range which reaches above 9000 feet, it's unusual that there is no geologic sign of glaciation.

day 2
day 2

The name Tapuae-o-Uenuku translates to 'footsteps to the rainbow'.  When Captain Cook sailed through Cook Straight for the first time on February 7th, 1770, he recorded the follwing in his diary, “Over this land appear'd a prodegious high mountain the summit of which was covered with snow.”  He was staring at  Tapuae-o-Uenuku and perhaps also it's close neighbor Mount Alarm.  These two peaks are the highest in New Zealand outside the Southern Alps.

The first attempt on  Tapuae-o-Uenuku took place in 1849 and was led by Edward John Eyre the Luetenant Governer of New Zealand.  He was accompanied by seven Maoris.  They fell short of the summit and on the return trip Wiremu Hoeta slipped on ice and fell to his death.  This was the first European alpine climb in New Zealand and also the first recorded alpine fatality there.  The first successful ascent took place in 1864, a party of 3 led by local farmer Nehemiah McRae.

we went up here
we went up here

In 1944 Edmund Hillary was stationed in Delta Camp for RNZAF training.  He was preoccupied with the snowy summit he could see from the camp.  At 5am one weekend he set off from Shin Hut, "A strong, cold wind had sprung up and I worked my way very slowly up to the Pinnacle at 8,800 feet....I was in a spectacular position. To the west above heavy clouds towered a range of snow capped peaks....To the east was the blueness of the sea stretching all the way to Wellington." When he returned to camp, he was tired, dirty and disheveled but happy: "I'd climbed a decent mountain at last."

Part of what Edmund Hillary meant by “a good mountain” was that it was prominent.  In 1944, peak prominence had not yet been formally defined, however he could intuitively feel the importance of a mountain that stands up by itself, not connected to a higher peak.   Tapuae-o-Uenuku has 6634 feet of prominence and is one of the 10 ultra-prominence peaks of New Zealand.  We would be climbing 6 of those during our trip.

gully
gully
upper slopes
upper slopes

After a good nights sleep in the hut, we started early.  One last crossing of the headwaters of the Hodder and then we were on a climbers path which goes to the saddle between Alarm and Tappy.  Views of Mount Alarm near the head of the valley were impressive.  There are numerous ways to ascending Tappy from the climbers trail and none of them are all that great.  We cut off the trail at the first possible option and ascended steep talus on the west face until we entered a narrow rocky gully.  We scrambled up the gully and then moved right on some loose slopes and ledges until we could get to the upper more gentle talus slopes above.

Mount Alarm
Mount Alarm
the pass above
the pass above
the northeast slopes
the northeast slopes

We ascended more scree and talus and then we could see a pass above us.  Judging from the map, this pass would put us up on the final ridge, north of the summit.  From the pass we scrambled around to the northeast face and traversed the slope near the ridge crest until we could go no higher.  The top!  We noted that there was no register present.  In fact, none of the peaks we climbed in New Zealand had a register.  Kiwis don't support that practice.

summit ahead
summit ahead
Manakau and Seaward Kaikoura
Manakau and Seaward Kaikoura

The view of the Clarence River below was impressive.  Beyond it stood the long Seaward Kaikoura Range and the crowning peak Manakau.  That would be our next objective.  Rumor had it that peak was one tough SOB, but it didn't look all that hard from here.  We would be climbing it from the far side which was not visible.

scree waterfall
scree waterfall
putting up dust
putting up dust
the pass we descended
the pass we descended

On the way back to the huts we descended through a different pass in the ridge hoping it would be better but it turned out to be worse.  It was very steep and very loose.  We put up giant clouds of dust as we descended the waterfall-like scree.  I couldn't believe people might ascend this way, but there was evidence that they do.  Overall the peak would be better with some snow.


After oodles of tricky talus we tied into another climbers path which dropped down onto the main climbers path.  We descended to the huts, packed up and hiked out, once again dipping our shoes into the Hodder River between 50 and 80 times.  Refreshing!

The next day we drove to the town of Kaikoura and started hiking up the Hapuku River.  This River was wider than the Hodder and crossings were somewhat more involved but thankfully much less frequent.

Hapuku River
Hapuku River
the gorge ahead
the gorge ahead

We hiked on river rocks until the gorge narrowed into a canyon and then we found the trail leading up to the left into the forest.  Cicadas in the forest were so loud I thought I might lose my mind.  I contemplated getting out my sleeping ear plugs but they were near the bottom of my pack.

rugged terrain
rugged terrain
scrambling boulders
scrambling boulders

The trail went up and over a spur and dropped down to a junction where we exited back out into the river channel near a main fork in the river.  We crossed the river and headed up the north fork turning left at another minor fork.  The river rocks were quite large.  Progress was slow and energy consuming.  Sometimes we opted to take small trails in the thick brush.  After some scrambling over and around big boulders we came to the final fork in the river and turned right.

Barretts Bivy
Barretts Bivy
Surveryor Spur at dusk
Surveryor Spur at dusk

We were now close to Barretts Bivy according to the map, but where was it?  We looked here and there but couldn't find it.  Our beta said it was hidden in the forest.  Eventually we found it after some backtracking.  It was nice to settle in for the night and cook a good meal.  I ate two dinners.  One that I brought and one that a lazy person had not bothered to carry out.  Thanks lazy person!

above the river
above the river
narrow climbers path above Stace Saddle
narrow climbers path above Stace Saddle

All accounts warn that summit day on Manakau is very very long.  Occasionally parties opt to add an extra day and bivy high somewhere on Surveyor Spur.  We took that to heart and started before dawn.  It's a good thing we did.  The distance is not long but the terrain is rugged and slow going.  We backtracked to the last bend in the Hapuku River and then ascended loose scree trails to Stace Saddle.  There was a low cloud deck and we climbed into it right just below the level of Stace Saddle.

spectre of the brocken
spectre of the brocken
the ridge above
the ridge above
the spectre
the spectre

We turned right and followed the narrow trail through thick brush on Surveyor Spur.  We got soaked by the brush.  After awhile the plants thinned out and we were climbing a very nice narrow ridge with occasional exposure.  The light was getting brighter and I was giddy with the idea that we might break out of the clouds eventually.  Sure enough we climbed above them and there was a spectre of the brocken!  It's been years since I've seen the spectre.  How cool!  We sure enjoyed the new open views.

surveyor spur
surveyor spur

Then we came to a section of ridge around 4890 feet which didn't look right.  Ahead I saw a section of near vertical grass.  The left and right options looked worse.  The trail petered out here too.  WTF?  I explored the grass and found some very small dirt steps but there was nothing to hold onto but the grass.  I climbed the grass and Heather followed me and I was very upset at the top of it.  The runout below us was not good and I felt like I had put her in unnecessary danger.  I was mad at myself.  Could this be the route?  I don't think so.

steep grass ahead
steep grass ahead
climbing near vertical grass
climbing near vertical grass

We were on a small ledge.  I saw what looked like a small gully up to the left and I explored that.  It looked like it would go up to another ridge above.  Thankfully it did go nicely and we found ourselves above a large gentle bowl of scree with a well worn path traversing below us.  There must be a bypass that avoids that grass and I knew we could find it for the descent.  Across the bowl I could see the continuance of Surveyor Spur.

the scree bowl and ridge continuance
the scree bowl and ridge continuance
colored strata on the southeast face of Manakau
colored strata on the southeast face of Manakau

We crossed the bowl and followed the ridge up through more easy scrambling.  We came to the top of point 2210m.  Another higher point was in front of us beyond a saddle and the main summit was visible far to our left displaying a nice assortment of colored strata on its southeast face.  We descended to the next saddle and then traversed steep loose scree overlaying a more solid layer.  What a crappy traverse!  It would not be good to fall on this slope since there were cliffs below.  It was very slow travel here, but going up and over the next rise on the ridge was an even worse option.  It was either traverse to the next saddle or give up and turn around.

have to traverse to this saddle
have to traverse to this saddle
the crappy traverse
the crappy traverse

After the traverse we followed the main ridge crest west going over and around several rock mounds and gendarmes.  Ahead I could see that the scrambling would become more committing and involved.  Also there was a giant gendarme just before the peak and I wondered how we would get past it.  We discovered that each obstacle which looked impassable from afar had a hidden option which really wasn't that hard.  As I had guessed, getting around the final humongous gendarme was a little tricky but we traversed some loose scree slopes on the right side of it and then we had a clear view of the summit in front of us.

Alarm and Tappy Visible
Alarm and Tappy Visible
Inland Kaikoura
Inland Kaikoura
Manakau
Manakau
the ridge ahead
the ridge ahead
finally the main peak
finally the main peak

The last narrow section of ridge was surprisingly easy, perhaps the only easy part of the route aside from the trail down in the forest.  What a peak!  This one had really challenged me.  No part of the route was really difficult, but it just never let up, all the way from the car park.  We didn't stay long because our time was now short.  But I did take a good long look back over at Tapuae-o-Uenuku before heading down.

summit
summit
on the summit
on the summit

We descened the way we had come with the exception of the vertical grass bypass.  I learned that when we first came to the steep grass we should have dropped off the ridge down a loose gully to the left and then followed ledges up through a near vertical rock face to the scree bowl above.  Some scree slopes sped us on our way down to Stace Saddle.  We descended back into the clouds.  The light was starting to fade and we just barely made it back to Barretts Bivy before dark.  I don't recollect for certain, but I think we spent 15 or 16 hours on summit day.

Surveyor Spur below
Surveyor Spur below
lovely scree bowl
lovely scree bowl

The following day we descended the rugged Hapuku back to the car park and discovered a presumably sleeping (or dead) dragonfly along the way.  Many of the mountains we climbed in New Zealand were harder than I anticipated but Manakau was the biggest challenge of all.  I don't know for fact, but I would judge that it doesn't see a lot of successful ascents each year.  The Guest Log Book in Barratts Bivy seems to support that theory.

dragonfly
dragonfly
some brush
some brush

We drove to the tiny town of Mount Hutt and the next day did an easy exploratory hike of Mount Sunday, aka Edoras of Rohan.  Now I have to admit here that I'm a bit of a Tolkien nerd and Edoras was one of the places I wanted to see in person.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry about it.  In other words, I was ready for an easy hike.  Mount Sunday was picturesque, quaint and just right for the day.  They've even installed some new bridges across the Rangitata feeder streams so you don't have to get your feet wet anymore.

Mount Sunday
Mount Sunday
summit trig
summit trig
Tolkien runes in dirt (fellow nerds please interpret)
Tolkien runes in dirt (fellow nerds please interpret)

We spent that night parked at Lake Heron, for we would be climbing Mount Taylor the following day.  It was very windy at Lake Heron just as it had been at Mount Sunday.  New Zealand in general seems to be a very windy place.  To get to Mount Taylor we had to walk across 7 miles of open fields before we came to Double Hut and the start of the route.  I was a bit perturbed to cross a perfect access road near the huts which I could see went all the way to a farm back at the main road.

Taylor
Taylor
alpenglow on Taylor
alpenglow on Taylor
7 miles of this
7 miles of this
Double Hut
Double Hut

From the hut we followed the Swin River South Fork upstream to the main fork and then gained the ridge which divides the River.  It was narrow at first and steep the whole way up but overall much more pleasant than Surveyors Spur had been.  Actually, it felt really easy after Manaku and we made quick work of the peak despite the longer distance day.  There were only a few little rugged sections and no necessary scrambling.

Swin River South Fork
Swin River South Fork
Taylor summit
Taylor summit
Mount Arrowsmith and Sugarloaf below
Mount Arrowsmith and Sugarloaf below

The descent was even quicker and we contemplated climbing nearby Mount Sugarloaf, but decided against it mainly because it looked like a steep hassle and Harrisons Bight was in the way.  We did manage to hike over the top of Lake Hill for an easy add-on peaklet.  Back at the van we weren't sure what to do with the extra daylight so we decided to just enjoy the evening and spend a second day at Lake Heron.  That night it rained like a monsoon and the noise disturbed our sleep.

looking back up
looking back up
Sugarloaf
Sugarloaf
tussocks
tussocks
Lake Hill summit
Lake Hill summit

This marked the beginning of a 4 day storm system with lots of showers in the mountains.  We drove to Christchurch intending to stay there but we didn't like the vibe so we left.  The place looked like it had been bombed after the 2011 earthquake.  It was all demolished downtown without much of the rebuilding completed.  Later we were shocked to hear that a second earthquake hit the town just 3 hours after we left, almost exactly 5 years after the initial 2011 quake.

Ben Lomond P3k
Ben Lomond P3k
summit ridge
summit ridge

We settled in the Queenstown area, ready for the next set of peaks and waiting for good weather.  On February 19th we hiked up Ben Lomond from the trailhead near the lake-shore.  It was a decent trail, but a bit crowded during the descent.  Apparently there's a cable lift that takes hordes of folks part of the way up.  Cloudy skies blocked much of the view.

Bowen Peak across the way
Bowen Peak across the way
Ben Lomond summit
Ben Lomond summit

I was sorely tempted to add on nearby Bowen Peak, but it appeared to have another unavoidable steep grass section and after our experience on Manakau I decided not to try it.  Our plan for the next day was Single Cone, highest peak in The Remarkables Range.  It was one of only a few technical climbs on our agenda.  Unfortunately when we got to the ski area access road early in the morning it was closed for road maintenance.  The sign said it was only open on Sundays and fortunately it was Saturday so we could return the following day.

On Queenstown Hill
On Queenstown Hill
The Remarkables Range
The Remarkables Range
Queenstown true summit
Queenstown true summit
Single Cone
Single Cone

We hiked up Queenstown Hill instead which is the Little Si of Queenstown.  However the trail does not go to the true summit.  Unbeknownst to me prior, it's a tressbag.  I went for it, got it, and narrowly escaped being interrogated by some ranchers in a Jeep.

Part 1 Hawaii - Mauna Kea, Loa, Ulu, lava tubes, petroglyphs

Part 3 - NZ South Island, Single Cone, Sebastopol, Torlesse

Part 4 NZ North Island Taranaki, Ruapehu, Mt Doom, Tongariro

Part 5 – Fiji after Cyclone Winston

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Anish
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Anish
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PostMon Mar 14, 2016 11:52 pm 
On the way to Manakau, the only trail we had.
On the way to Manakau, the only trail we had.
There were many dead sheep in this river
There were many dead sheep in this river
Dinner!
Dinner!
How Gimpilator hangs his socks
How Gimpilator hangs his socks
It was windy on Mt. Sunday
It was windy on Mt. Sunday

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"Our way is not soft grass. It's a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upwards, forward, toward the sun." -Ruth Westheimer
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



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GaliWalker
Have camera will use
PostTue Mar 15, 2016 7:45 am 
Enjoying the read!  up.gif

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bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
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Snowdog
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Snowdog
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PostTue Mar 15, 2016 10:02 am 
Excellent TR (so far)  Vertical grass doesn't sound fun-
Really distressing about the timing belt, but happy ending!
Lots of useful info here for others planning a NZ trip.
Thanks for the write up.  up.gif
Good pics too  smile.gif

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'we don't have time for a shortcut'
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Steve Erickson
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Steve Erickson
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PostTue Mar 15, 2016 10:13 am 
New Zealand has been on my bucket list for years and after reading your post, it is even more on my list. If I did not have the responsibilities that I have, I think I would try to move there to escape the crowds and find endless new areas to visit. Great pictures and writing. Enjoyed very much.

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mountainflamingo
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PostTue Mar 15, 2016 10:33 am 
I stayed in the Barretts Bivy Last year. Unfortunately I didn't start as early as you and turned around on the crappy scree traverse on Surveyor Ridge because I needed to be in Nelson that evening.  A cool trip indeed. Thanks for the report on the rest of the route!

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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostTue Mar 15, 2016 12:03 pm 
I enjoyed reading this report a lot as we were in New Zealand last year for a month. Our goal wasn't climbing, but we did a lot of hiking. With all the huts and well maintained trails I kept thinking that this is what mountain recreation looks like with a well-funded agency (although the DOC still complains about not having enough). It's an interesting perspective that there were no summit registers -- I won't be surprised if we end up there in this country.

I'm looking forward to the rest of your trip, especially if you get into the Southern Alps. When we hiked the Milford every peak looked hard with tough approaches and no obvious easy way up. It's a very rugged range, which is saying something for someone familiar with the Cascades.

And I'm again awed at the endurance both of you have, but especially Anish. Climbing peaks day after day without a break shortly after running an ultra-marathon?  eek.gif

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wildernessed
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PostTue Mar 15, 2016 1:34 pm 
up.gif Nice ! I always wanted to go to New Zealand.

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ofuros
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PostTue Mar 15, 2016 4:32 pm 
Lovely part of the world with some quaint huts/bivy's to stay in....enjoyed your report.

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Magellan
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Magellan
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PostTue Mar 15, 2016 11:27 pm 
Good stuff, Adam. Keep it coming, please.  up.gif

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Anish
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Anish
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PostWed Mar 16, 2016 12:29 pm 
Steve Erickson wrote:
to escape the crowds

Ironically, New Zealand was incredibly crowded except for the inland ranch areas. We were shocked at the number of visitors and trampers there.

puzzlr wrote:
And I'm again awed at the endurance both of you have, but especially Anish. Climbing peaks day after day without a break shortly after running an ultra-marathon?

Gosh, thank you!  smile.gif

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"Our way is not soft grass. It's a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upwards, forward, toward the sun." -Ruth Westheimer
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Sculpin
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PostWed Mar 16, 2016 1:56 pm 
I have to admit that when Gimpilator wrote in the Death Valley report that
Anish hiked 4000 miles in 2015, I could scarcely believe it.  Amazing!  Mostly I envy having that amount of time to spend hiking and not worshipping the glowing screen for a paycheck.

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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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Roly Poly
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PostWed Mar 16, 2016 9:26 pm 
Amazing life you both have.  Almost non-stop travel and adventure.  Very impressive.

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Fletcher
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PostWed Mar 16, 2016 10:54 pm 
So awesome that you guys visited Edoras!

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Gimpilator
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PostFri Mar 18, 2016 7:00 pm 
Thanks everyone!  I just finished part 3.

Steve Erickson wrote:
New Zealand has been on my bucket list for years and after reading your post, it is even more on my list. If I did not have the responsibilities that I have, I think I would try to move there to escape the crowds and find endless new areas to visit. Great pictures and writing. Enjoyed very much.

Just like you, it was on our bucket list long before we even met each other.  But it seems tourism in NZ has finally reached a tipping point which takes away from the overall experience.  Everywhere we went, the locals kept saying "we've never seen it like this".  I would suggest avoiding the cities and towns of NZ altogether in the month of February.  Hopefully it doesn't get any worse.

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