Rangiora area

21 01 2018

On the Saturday after the wet event in Christchurch I picked up the “cheap and cheerful” rental car from the off-site airport location. Two weeks, unlimited mileage cost me NZ$ 445 or around 2600 SEK which is a pretty fair deal compared with larger well known rental car company offerings. The car was a Japanese import with all the stickers still in Japanese, and 250000+ km on the odometer. It was an automatic and the blinkers and wiper stalks were reversed compared to a European car. After wiping the windscreen a couple of times I go the hang of where the blinkers were.

I had looked at the possibility of renting a bike so that I could get round the powertrails I had scoped out before starting my vacation, but was horrified

to find that it was more expensive than renting the car! My second alternative was to buy a secondhand bike but one of my friends here, John W, said “no problems, borrow mine as I never use it”. Problem solved.

I booked a room in Rangiora for a couple of nights on airbnb not really knowing what to expect. I then threw the bike and my bag in the boot of the car and shot off to Rangiora. Drving on the left is second nature as I learnt to drive in England and I never experience it as a problem. The room I found on airbnb was in a new detached house and even gave me the run of the rest of the house. Breakfast was provided and I sat in the living room in the evenings and chatted with the host Kevin and his lodger James. As it turned out, we were all radio amateurs so lots to talk about.

When I left Christchurch I was running late but got started chatting to my friends’ neighbours and then when I rushed off I forgot my bike helmet. Use of a helmet is mandatory in New Zealand so I had to do the power trail on foot! Grr!

Rangiora geocaching trail

It was upstream along the Ashley River and the round trip was some 15-16 km. Most of the caches were in good condition but FFT – Do you have a weak stomach? was in need of maintenance. I had to sign the container!

Logging the sheep!

I finished off the trail when I got to Karen’s Rockery, an old traditional cache with a proper regular container and logbook.

Karen’s Rockery, the last cache on the trail.

At one point on my walk back to Rangiora I saw some local farmers harvesting some grain, don’t ask me if it was barley or oats, but it wasn’t wheat at least, and they were forming the sheaves by hand! I stopped and talked with one of the farmers and he said that they were one of the few farms where they still did it this way. I didn’t ask why so that I didn’t upset him.

Taking in the harvest the old fashioned way

Hand formed sheaves

It was a hot day so getting back to Rangiora and a cold beer at the local RSA club was really appreciated.

On the next day, I spent the morning on Ingress in Rangiora then in Kaiapoi which is a small town some 20km north of Christchurch on the Waimakariri River. It was known many years ago for it’s woollen mills. I have found quite a few caches in the town and now in the rebuild period after the 2011 earthquake that
devasted the township there are not so many new ones to hunt. In the afternoon I got back into geocaching and did another power trail of sorts but this time in the car. It was one called Lolly Scramble. I did part of it some years ago but for whatever reasons the pocket query didn’t completely download so I missed half of them. I expected my new PQ to fill in the gaps.

Lolly Scramble – still not complete!

There are some gaps where caches have been archived but even so there are a number of caches at the western end of the trail that my latest PQ didn’t pick up. Grr! I am not going back again. I finished off the drive westwards in the little town of Oxford where I did an Ingress Mission just to make a change from geocaching. I have found about half the caches in the township on previous visits.


NZ 2013: Fourth week

4 03 2013

W4 30/1-6/2 A quick statistical summary
64 finds, 62 trad, 2 myst

I have mentioned Little G Magic in my previous post and started off my last week in New Zealand with another one Little G Says – It’s Oh! K. This is a simple D2.5/T5 but with a muggle factor. It’s located at the entrance to the housing development where I was living and I passed it every day. The easy way is just to wade through the stomach deep water to the cache which technically makes it a T4.5. However, after much thought and the purchase of a 3 dollar tape measure I discovered that the ladder where I was staying was just adequate for the job and I could grab the cache without getting wet. As I used equipment that made it a T5 again. Nice . 😉 I have no idea what the neighbours across the road thought of my movements though.

During a couple of the days that followed I spent some time to the northeast of Christchurch picking up some easy caches located along the route that the old railway from Kaiapoi to Oxford followed. The railways in New Zealand never really made it as they came too late and there was just not enough people or goods to make them profitable. Along the route I followed were signs to show where the stations had been. In some way it reminded me of my own Upptåg series of caches, although in that case the line is still in operation and in good health.

One of the station signs on the Oxford line

One of the station signs on the Oxford line

One of the station signs on the Oxford line

Another of the station signs on the Oxford line

What really tickled my imagination were a couple of caches that I found at historic sites. One of them was at the site of the New Zealand motorcycle GP from 1936 and the other at the site where two motorcycle world speed records were broken in 1955. It’s amazing what you can find in the middle of nowhere.

New Zealand GP 1936

World motorcycle speed record 1955

World motorcycle speed record 1955

New Zealand GP 1936

In Kaiapoi, which suffered heavily in the earthquakes, some historic buildings that are to be preserved still lean. An example of this is the railway station. The building itself has been moved to a safer place but the platform canopy still shows how much movement there was.

A new sculpture has been raised in Kaiapoi and a cleverly placed cache is located there. Spoiler warning.

Kaiapoi sculpture

Kaiapoi sculpture

Kaikoura sculpture (Spoiler)

Kaikoura sculpture (Spoiler)

The week ended with another couple of Little G Magic Caches. I didn’t start the hunt until it was nearly too late. Basically, in Little G’s Book of Secrets there are clues to three mystery caches.

Little G's Book of Secrets

Little G’s Book of Secrets

Finding the clues is just the start of the fun. Solving the puzzles takes things to a higher level and actually finding the caches puts the icing on the cake. I solved two of the mysteries, and found one of them. I know how to do the third one but I am just too far away to do it. Another nail biting year will have to pass before I may be able to return.

I spent more time than usual finding mystery cache on this trip. My mystery to traditional cache find ratio at the end of 2012 was 162/2825 = 5,73%. After my NZ holiday it was 188/3157 = 5,96%.

I’m not sure what I will aim for but at the event I talked with a few cachers where mysteries play an important part of their hunting life and they try to keep a 10% ratio. To me that sounds difficult, but on the other hand, when the snow is deep and the days are short solving mysteries can be a good way to go so that when the physical hunt is on again there is a nice pile of solved mystery caches to find.

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