Semlor

17 02 2015

Now that I am back at work I have only had the opportunity to find a couple of local caches and on this past Monday (Feb 16) participate in a local Geocaching event. The event, hosted by Olleoljud was at Cafe Lido in Gävle and was centred around “semlor”. In it’s original version a semla is a sweet bun filled with cream and almond paste. Today, there are many variations.

Needless to say Fira Blåmåndag! was a great success and the twenty or so cachers who were there filled the cafe.

Of course, a pile of TB’s and geocoins made the rounds and I was pleased to be able to drop off the two TB’s I had carried around New Zealand for about a month. My favourite geocoin was this one.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

I think it will be my geocaching motto for the rest of the year.





Fire

4 02 2015

Not quite geocaching, but as I was relaxing on my last day in New Zealand I heard a number of helicopters overhead. It didn’t attract my interest at first as I am staying quite near to the airport.

It’s been a very hot day with really strong winds blowing in from the northwest which always increases the risk that any small fires that start become rather large very quickly.

What made me react was the smell of smoke and that got me moving.What was happening was that a large grassfire had started just a few hundred meters away and the helicopters were in action trying to put it out. They were collecting water from the minute swimming pool at Gilbertthorpe school just across the road.

Rough area of fire

Rough area of fire

Smoke from grass fire

Smoke from grass fire

Helicopter collecting water from school swimming pool

Helicopter collecting water from school swimming pool

Swimming pool that helicopters collected water from

Swimming pool that helicopters collected water from

Apparently 2 homes were burnt down and 100 homes evacuated. Now at 16:30 local NZ time all seems to be under control.





West coast

1 02 2015

Again it was time to get hold of a relocation rental car deal. I had thought about taking the bus to Queenstown and then getting a car back as that is the direction in which they are available. It was not to be this time though. When I looked at the beginning of January there were cars available every day. When I looked again in the third week in January there was nothing available until mid February! That gave me the choice of Greymouth or Nelson and as I had just been up to Nelson I chose Greymouth. When I left Christchurch it was raining, which for this years vacation was the first day I had encountered it. However, the three kilometer walk to the airport where I picked up the little Toyota Yaris soaked me through to the skin and wet all my clothes in my rucksack. Once I was about 20km to the west of Christchurch the rain stopped abruptly and the sun came out. The temperature as I approached the west coast soared to around 30C and all my stuff that was spread out on the back seat of the car quickly dried off.

On the way out of Christchurch I drove along the Old West Coast Road in order to pick up the eight monthly spelling challenge caches that I qualified for, the first one being January Spelling Challenge. I remember well the first time I found a cache along that road. It was Moneydork’s Yellow Submarine, the first submersed cache I found, and yes it was yellow. The year was 2007.

One of the attractions of the west coast from a geocaching perspective is a fairly new power trail with the title (first cache in the series) Know When to Hold ‘Em ( – 2 of Hearts). It was a series of 52 traditionals and four mysteries, one for each suite of cards. I had worked out that the caches would be on the left side of the road in the direction of travel which meant that I would have to go round the car each time. I decided to start from the far end which meant that the caches were on the drivers side albeit across the road. It worked out fine although six of the caches had gone AWOL so I didn’t bother doing the mysteries as they were dependent on picking up clues amongst the tradional caches. The 32 km trail took med 5 ½ hours which was plenty enough for me.

Know When to Hold 'Em power trail to the east and the Greymouth walkway series on the coast

Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail to the east and the Greymouth walkway series on the coast

My Yaris rental car and the nine of clubs on the Know When to Hold 'Em power trail

My Yaris rental car and the nine of clubs on the Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail

A big fat pigeon dropped a load just next to me. :-(

A big fat pigeon dropped a load just next to me. :-(

Seen on the Know When to Hold 'Em power trail. I think this guy is an electrician

Seen on the Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail. I think this guy is an electrician

I followed the Grey River down to the Brunner mine where I stopped to do the earthache Brunner’s Black Gold. It was fascinating to think that the coal mine was so large in it’s heyday. Very little remains 120 years on but it’s worth remembering what it had done for the area.

Brunner mine bridge

Brunner mine bridge

Brunner mine. Bridge over River Grey

Brunner mine. Bridge over River Grey

Even Greymouth itself is presumably a shadow of it’s former self. The stop banks are witness to the flooding of recent years but no more large ships find their way to the quays and coal is taken by train to Lyttelton. I looked at the remains of the old railway bridge and wondered how it had managed to stay in place for so long. It didn’t look at all safe.

Remains from the coal loading from early last century

Remains from the coal loading from early last century

Greymouth harbour inactivity - remains of coal cranes

Greymouth harbour inactivity – remains of coal cranes

Greymouth harbour activity

Greymouth harbour activity


The day after the power trail I felt more in need of a walk so after dropping off the Yaris at the Station/i-Site/car rental company I walked west out of Greymouth centre picking up caches on the way.

Tribute to the West Coast Miners unveiled in 2011

Tribute to the West Coast Miners unveiled in 2011

The colorful West Coast Watsonia - a kind of iris that is bountiful here

The colorful West Coast Watsonia – a kind of iris that is bountiful here

View north to the mouth of the River Grey. Although peaceful now really bad storms hit the coast.

View north to the mouth of the River Grey. Although peaceful now really bad storms hit the coast.

Gold mining in the 1800's

Gold mining in the 1800’s

A visit to Greymouth has to include a brewery tour

A visit to Greymouth has to include a brewery tour

As I was waiting for the bus the Trans Alpine Express train came into the station and I regretted not looking more into the cost for returning to Christchurch by train instead of the bus. Now afterwards I see that the train costs 199 NZD as opposed to the bus’ cost of 52 NZD so I made the right choice.

Old bridge remains over the River Grey

Old bridge remains over the River Grey

Transalpine Express approaching Greymouth station

Transalpine Express approaching Greymouth station





5000 finds milestone

26 01 2015

Well, I finally made it!

After more than 11 years of geocaching the counter finally ticked up to 5000.

As with my other milestones the cache was nothing special and I didn’t even know it was No 5000 until I started logging my finds in the evening of January 26, 2015. I was out in the countryside north of Christchurch following a line of caches between Eyreton and Oxford that were in a series with the name “Lolly Scramble”, then on the second part of the loop a series called “Fruit (& vege)”. They were all themed caches where the containers were a little different to the usual film canister. Looking back I believe that I had put a filter into GSAK that was something along the lines of “if the cache hasn’t been found in the past month ignore it”. Whatever it was, half of the caches in the Lolly Scramble series didn’t turn up on my GPS’r.

Kaiapoi to Oxford and all the missed caches in the Lolly Scramble series

Kaiapoi to Oxford and all the missed caches in the Lolly Scramble series


What that meant was that my 5000th find was not one in the Lolly Scramble series but an older cache A place for bunnies (Canterbury)

One cache later and it would have been The Lunch Stop Motel (Canterbury) which was a huge well decorated TB Hotel.

TB Hotel Lunch Stop Motel

TB Hotel Lunch Stop Motel

Anyway, I will reward myself with a new geoachievement coin as I have done in the past at previous milestones.

5000 finds geocachievement coin and pin

5000 finds geocachievement coin and pin





A mixed bag in Canterbury

21 01 2015

After my trip to Nelson I spent a further week and a half in Christchurch where the time just seemed to float on by. That’s a good sign of a relaxing vacation I guess. looking back at my stats in GSAK I see that I managed to find 94 caches and hold an event of my own during that time. What I didn’t do was take as many photographs of a wide range of subjects as I could have.

Halswell Quarry to the south of Chrictchurch is where most of the building material for the city came in those days when buildings were made from stone. these days it’s all steel or reinforced concrete. I have been there a few times before and found a few caches including the clever yet Ifrustrating “Aloha, sonny”. Unfortunately, for purely smartphone users, I very much doubt that they will be able to solve the mystery. There is also an interesting earthcache here and a number of other simple trads. I found two new caches that both contained food which can be a problem of course, both from the point of attracting wild animals but also just because mould can setg in. I removed the food and left a note on the cache page. I assume it was a novice that had done it in all good faith.

Halswell Quarry

Halswell Quarry

I also spent a day in the centre of the city, not hunting for caches as most of them have been disabled or archived due to the destruction of the buildings by the two major earthquakes that hit Christchurch, but just to try to orient myself. It was really hard as no landmarks remain. Basically all there is are empty plots of land, some remains and new building sites. There have been some enterprising artists who have been allowed to adorn the remaining concrete walls with colourful murals of all shapes and sizes. The pictures can speak for themselves.

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The next day I went for a 25 km walk that allowed me to collect all the caches on the Southern motorway plus a dozen or so more and get 100 caches in total for that date. The reason being that I needed the numbers for a challenge at home in Sweden. Most of the caches on the route were standard micros but Squelch! stood out. In the words of Head Hard Hat, “poke it with a stick”, was good advice. Once I got to the end of the motorway I popped into a simple cafe called “Cafeine” and drank the best cup of coffee I have had in Christchurch. Period. So if you are ever at the junction of Lincoln Road and Curletts road drop in and tell them who sent you.

Cafeine on Lincoln Road

Cafeine on Lincoln Road

I held my event 10 years of caching in New Zealand on Sunday 25th January and was pleased at the turn out. Bald Ed was one of the first cachers I met in New Zealand and have bumped into him several times over the years. I also met some other familiar faces and new cachers. Great fun.I spent the morning prior to the event hunting for caches in the Cashmere are of town. Most notable was The power of the moon. (Canterbury) . I expected a crawl up a culvert when I looked at the cache location on Google Maps. Luckily, such was not the case and I can understand why it had 40 favourite points.

My last busy geocaching day in Canterbury consisted of a run out to Oxford. On my map I had dozens of caches in the “Lolly Scramble” running the whole way along the South Eyre Road and the “Fruit (& Vege) Loop” series around Eyreton, but for some reason I had managed to filter out half of them when I did my GPS upload from GSAK. Both were really fun series as they all had interesting containers either in the form of fruit and vegetables or sweet containers, that gave me a few chuckles along the way

Fun cache series between Kaiapoi and Oxford: Lolly Scramble and Fruit (&veges)

Fun cache series between Kaiapoi and Oxford: Lolly Scramble and Fruit (&veges)

The finale for the day, was a little detour through Kaiapoi to see how it is recovering from the earthquakes and to visit Rabbit Revenge. This is a cache with 69 favourite points and again in the words of Head Hard Hat, “poke it with a stick”!





Nelson and surrounding area

19 01 2015

Something I try to do while I am in New Zealand is to take advantage of the rental car and camper relocation deals that are offered by many of the rental companies. I have done so for many years before it became mainstream and was available as an online service. This year I took the opportunity to relocate a car to Nelson and in the 48 hours that the agreement lasted take the opportunity of caching in the Greater Nelson area then once the car was dropped off, to concentrate on the more centrally located caches.

I have friends in Nelson who kindly offered me a bed for a few nights so on Wednesday morning I picked up a Toyota Aurion at Christchurch Airport. It’s not a model I am familiar with but it was a large car with plenty of go. The trip from Christchurch can be done in two ways. The inland route goes through Hanmer Springs and Springs Junction whereas the coastal route which is more scenic goes through Kaikoura and Blenheim. As I would be returning to Christchurch on the bus and that takes the coastal route I drove up on the inland route. I only made one stop on the way up and that was to grab Fishers, a cache I had DNF’d five years ago to the day.

Once I got to Richmond, which is just outside Nelson I started off with three Kiwi-Nomad caches. He is a cacher who is a constructor of creative caches. With the risk of revealing too much I will mention the caches I found this time. The first was Aroundtwoit which was a rather simple hide if you know K-N’s devious mind. Luckily I have found another twenty plus of these highly recommended caches over the years and was sure where to look. The second was PLUNGER, a cache, that I have looked for before in 2008 but with no success. I have no idea why as it took me no time at all on this visit. Just goes to show how different views on the same place can be.

Click on picture to see Plunger spoiler

Click on picture to see Plunger spoiler

So now with two K-N caches under my belt I moved on to one of his new creations called Money Box. Showing the opened box will I hope not reveal how to open it!

Click on picture to see Moneybox spoiler

Click on picture to see Moneybox spoiler

On day two in the area I took a drive out into the countryside to the north west with no real goals other than to do some sightseeing and find a few caches. It turned out to be a day with more multicaches than usual, five in all. A couple of them were really fun to do. A couple of memorable ones were Up a Moo Tree

Settler's cottage exterior

Settler’s cottage exterior

Settler's cottage interior

Settler’s cottage interior

and Uncovered.

Up the little valley road that Uncovered took me to, not only did I find New Zealand’s only hop growing area but also a Tibetan temple!

Motueka hops - this is the only area in NZ where they are grown

Motueka hops – this is the only area in NZ where they are grown

Stupa at Tibetan temple

Stupa at Tibetan temple

Tibetan temple

Tibetan temple

On day three I dropped off the car at the airport and walked 15 km back into Nelson

Route and elevation of my 20 km Nelson walk

Route and elevation of my 20 km Nelson walk

collecting a few caches on the way. When I got back to my friends place I dropped off the stuff I was carrying – new Systema containers that will be put into service in Sweden! – then walked by a road full of beautiful flowering jacaranda trees up a nearby 170 m hill to the “Centre of New Zealand”.

Colourful jacaranda trees in Nelson

Colourful jacaranda trees in Nelson

Monument at "The centre of New Zealand". The embellishment arrived the same day I visited. Not related!

Monument at “The centre of New Zealand”. The embellishment arrived the same day I visited. Not related!

One of my friends had walked up earlier in the day so was very surprised to see the photo I took of the monument. The bike was not there earlier in the day.

Again I found a Kiwi-Nomad cache that was a good one GC1KM28 Neale-Park-View.

Nelson as seen from Neale-Park-View

Nelson as seen from Neale-Park-View

On day four I took the bus to Blenheim then changed to a new bus to Christchurch. The journey takes just over 7 hours with a break for lunch in Kaikoura.





Akaroa

11 01 2015

I have already started to lose track of time since I left Sweden on January 2. Now on January 10 I had the opportunity to get a lift to Akaroa and back with one of my NZ friends. Akaroa is a French settlement in the midst of this British heritage island as is seen by all the French shop, restaurant and road names. It is located in the eroded crater of a six million year old shield volcano and is about 80 km from Christchurch. I know because I visited Akaroa Volcano (Canterbury) on the way back to Christchurch.

Akaroa location in relation to Christchurch

Akaroa location in relation to Christchurch

I had about three hours to kill and that seemed plenty of time to find the six caches in the town and eat the well known Akaroa fish ‘n’ chips. In the past they have been great but this time the batter on the excellent blue cod was a bit soggy which downgraded the experience.

It was a glorious day and the temperature was a good 30C which made itself known on the walk up the hill behind Akaraoa. I started my walk at Jack of all Caches (Canterbury) which was situated by the old lighthouse.

Akaroa lighthouse

Akaroa lighthouse

From there on my walk to the fish ‘n’ chip shop I DNF’d two caches along the waterfront road that seemed to have been muggled judging by the number of DNF logs.

An old shady seat where there should have been a cache

An old shady seat where there should have been a cache

After my meal I started walking uphill to the very appropriately named street

then on further to the top of Stanley Park for Stanley Park, Akaroa (Canterbury) and some great views over the bay.

The sign says it all

The sign says it all

The view over Akaroa and the bay from Stanley Park

The view over Akaroa and the bay from Stanley Park

On the way back to Christchurchwe stopped at the earthcache.

Rock patterns at the centre of the volcano cone

Rock patterns at the centre of the volcano cone

Migmatie dyke at the centre of Akaroa volcano

Migmatie dyke at the centre of Akaroa volcano

This was followed by a couple of challenge caches, Plane Challenging – 30 Earth Cache finds and Plane Challenging – 75 TBs Discovered/Logged on Birdlands Flats where the small flies were a real pain. Both caches had little planes stuck to them, hence the name I guess. Following that a quick visit was made to Silly Sausage – Stone grill letterbox (Canterbury), a letterbox hybrid cache.

Silly Sausage Letterbox-hybrid cache

Silly Sausage Letterbox-hybrid cache

After that we went back to Christchurch and a quiet evening sitting outside in the sun enjoying a simple meal and a cold beer.








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