New Zealand in the rain

18 01 2018

I arrived at 05:00 on Tuesday morning (9th Jan) after a flight route that took me from Stockholm to Dubai then Melbourne and finally Christchurch. It was one of the shorter routes that I have taken. Over the years I have had long stops in Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo and of course, Sydney and Auckland. I think that this month´s stay is the fifteenth.

Tuesday was spent with getting a few practicalities sorted out, such as a local SIM card for my phone and toiletries including sun blocker. I have experience of leaky containers in my luggage before and try to avoid fluids as far as possible.

I was raring to go on Wednesday but was met with four days of continuous rain. Grrr! It did, however, give me chance to do some planning and booking of accommodation through ‘airbnb’. The concept sounds fine, but I had no idea what the reality would be like. I had my handheld comm radio with me and spent some time studying the manual, something I never seemed to be able to find time for earlier. As I am staying with good friends who live close to the flight path into Christchurch airport I have been listening to the traffic communications.

I finally got to do some geocaching on Saturday, in the rain of course, and that was an event with a nearby cache followed by a part of a mystery trail for mysts that I had solved over the past couple of years.

The event was Come and Visit Australia in November, 2018 hosted by GeocachingVictoria. Even in pouring rain at least 13 geocachers with families were there. Luckily I logged the cache Sure to Rise – Again! (Canterbury) at the event site as the one I found there in 2005 (Sure Thing (Canterbury)) was archived in 2009, replaced by another one in 2010, which also got archived and finally replaced by this third cache in 2012. Let’s see how long this one lasts.

The event was great in that I was able to connect a few more faces to geocaching nicknames as well as meeting people I know. I was also the fortunate winner of a geocoin promoting the mega event in Australia in November.It will follow me around until then. Let’s see where it gets. Geocoin The Alexandra Event 2017 Geocoin.

A wet event. That’s me holding up the geocoin I won.

As the rain eased off in the afternoon I decided to do some of the “Ahhh! Fresh Breath series” on the Old West Road, west of Christchurch. In total I have solved a couple of hundred mystery caches in the area before I came. Now all I have to do is find them.

The weather forecast for the coming few days is sun, sun, sun but as I write this att 21:00 on 18/1 it is pouring down again.

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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.





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”!





A short walk in the Port Hills

10 01 2015

My first visit to New Zealand was in 1990 and I made a further four trips before I knew what geocaching was. However, my first visit that entailed geocaching was in 2005 and to celebrate that I have planned an event
10 years of caching in New Zealand on January 24.

The first cache that I found which is still active was Sign of the Kiwi (Canterbury) which I thought was a fitting place for me to start todays walk in the Port Hills on a somewhat hazy day. It was a good 25C so fine for walking. From there my route took me along Mitchell Track to Baywatch. I was surprised that I hadn’t found this earlier but I think that the earthquakes may have closed off the hills on my last few visits.

View of Quail Island in the bay outside Lyttelton

View of Quail Island in the bay outside Lyttelton

I then went on as far as the Huntsbury Track further up Summit Road passing The ‘D’ Puzzle Challenge (Canterbury), which luckily I had done my homework for. I tried to base the result on just NZ caches but ended up adding a couple from abroad to complete the challenge.

High 50 Peaks & Marathons Geocache (Canterbury) and Vampire Repellent (Canterbury) were found along the way.

View over Christchurch

View over Christchurch

The route back to car park at the Sign of the Kiwi was round the north side of Sugarloaf. I have been to the top of the hill on previous occasions hunting for caches.

Sugarloaf

Sugarloaf

Once getting back to the car park I made a short detour to find Treeland (Canterbury) before returning down to town and a well earned coffee.

Sign of the Kiwi - still not repaired after the quakes

Sign of the Kiwi – still not repaired after the quakes

In the afternoon I added a further 10 km walk to the days activity by doing a loop from where I was staying out to Yaldhurst and back collecting SCORE a DECADEnt CENTURY Challenge Cache and The Forsaken Cache Challenge along the way. The latter cache was quite interesting in both the content of the challenge and also the great macros in GSAK that helped me work out that I was qualified. It’s worth looking at even if you can’t get to sign the log. It may even inspire some similar cache elsewhere.





Christchurch city centre

9 01 2015

Although I have been into the centre of Christchurch many times in the past it is in a state of constant change since the September 2009  and the subsequent  February 2011 earthquakes. A good place to start a visit to the centre is in Hagley Park as that gives three hours free parking. From there I made a loop around part of town observing the empty spaces where buildings once stood and ongoing building activities. The reconstruction is taking longer than I would have expected but that’s probably because I once lived in Shanghai for some years and the rate of construction there was enormous.

The rose garden in Hagley Park is always worth visiting at this time of year and has the added benefit of a short multicache.

Hagley Park rode garden

Hagley Park rode garden

Other than that most of the city centre is either in ruins or being rebult. There are lots of empty spaces so photographs of the city don’t really have a lot to show other than damage.

Christchurch Cathedral: Where the scafolding is there used to be a spire

Christchurch Cathedral: Where the scafolding is there used to be a spire

Giraffes are appearing all over the place

Giraffes are appearing all over the place

Plenty of art turning up and Christchurch's first LPC!

Plenty of art turning up and Christchurch’s first LPC!

185 white chair located on a completely demolished site to signify the number of people who lost their lives in the last quake

185 white chair located on a completely demolished site to signify the number of people who lost their lives in the last quake

The chair is made of broken pieces of china and is quite amazing.

The chair is made of broken pieces of china and is quite amazing.

Details of the china mosaic

Details of the china mosaic

In addition to the standard urban micros there were a few rather creative micros, a few small caches and the odd couple of regular sized letterbox caches. Of course, I always managed a couple of DNF’s but that’s not unusual with urban caches.

One of a few creative caches in Hagley Park

One of a few creative caches in Hagley Park

Another creative cache in Hagley Park.

Another creative cache in Hagley Park.

I am certain I will be back in town again in a few days time but next on the agenda is a walk in the Port Hills.





NZ 2013: Third week

25 02 2013

W3 23/1-29/1 A quick statistical summary
151 finds, 138 trad, 1 multi, 1 letterbox, 6 myst, 1 event, 1 CITO, 3 earth

My third week started off with a short round trip to the south of Christchurch through Prebbleton and Lincoln, then across to Little River (on the way to Akaroa) and finishing off on the saddle of the hills leading to Port Levi where I picked up a letterbox hybrid cache that formed part of the CANZ series of caches. Most fun were the “x/12” caches placed by MacPacFamily. They were all camouflaged in various different ways and had me laughing on more than one occasion.

An x/12 cache - Blackbird

An x/12 cache – Blackbird

An x/12 cache - worker

An x/12 cache – worker

An x/12 cache - Tick Tock

An x/12 cache – Tick Tock

View of Port Levy beyond the Port Hills

View of Port Levy beyond the Port Hills

The day after was spent in Christchurch where I found a few LittleG Magic caches. So, you may say, what is special about that? Usually, finding just one is quite a challenge so I felt really pleased with myself for finding four in the same day. I can’t show any photos as that would be a real giveaway.

I then spent a couple of days driving up to Kaikoura and back but not up Highway 1 as I have done many times before. This time I turned off to Hanmer where I ate lunch and found the earthcache Geothermal Hanmer. The road north then became the imaginatively named “Inland Road” that took me through some wonderful scenery.

Brige over the River Waiau

Brige over the River Waiau

Kaikoura whale watching

Kaikoura whale watching

Kaikoura town

Kaikoura town

Kaikoura from above

Kaikoura from above

Whalebones in a Kaikoura park

Whalebones in a Kaikoura park

The last couple of days in the week were really busy. I drove back to Christchurch from Kaikoura for the event Fish n Chips in the Park collecting a few caches and the earthcache at Cathedral Gully on the way. Even on the journey back to Christchrch I tried to avoid the main road and drive on the small, mostly gravel roads closer to the coast.

Cathedral Gully earthcache

Cathedral Gully earthcache

I don’t know how many years the event has run but I think it’s my third time to visit. What I also liked was the idea of running a CITO event after the main event. We were able to clean up quite a fair amount of rubbish in what on first impressions was a well kept park. A good initiative! I was so busy talking to people that I forgot to take photographs, which was a shame.

The other highlight was doing, what may be, the South Island’s only power trail. It is called Thompsons track and consisted of eighty caches over a 40 km long road that was pretty much straight. What made it a little different from the power trails I had done before was that the caches were mostly small and had room for swapables or travel bugs. Some of them were well hidden as well. The combination of distance and needing to look for some of the caches made this a four hour adventure. One thing that was memorable was getting to cache #79 then discovering that there was no #80 on my GPS but that there was a #80 out there somewhere. I chanced that it would be at the signpost at the junction just a few hunded meters away from #79 and luckily it was. What I remember in conjunction with finding that cache was that the temperature which had been in the high twenties durin g most of the trip had gone up over 30C and my feet were sticking on the tar seal as I crossed the road.

After spending four hours on the power trail, which I have to admit I did with mixed feelings, the next few caches were a boost for my flagging energy. After a well deserved/needed cup of coffee in Methven I continued on to Rakaia Gorge to do the earthcache situated in a couple of kilometers up the gorge. The views up and down the valley are magnificent.

Rakaia Gorge - can you see my car?

Rakaia River Gorge

Rakaia River running through the gorge

Rakaia gorge – can you see my car?

This is where I parked

This is where I parked

The Rakaia River downstream

The Rakaia River downstream








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