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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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.





A new journey approaches

31 12 2014

Well, it’s time to pack summer clothes again, download relevant PQ’s and solve a few mysts before I get on the train to Arlanda on Friday. It didn’t take long to pack. It’s becoming a tradition to take a months holiday in January and flee south. This must be the eighth time in ten years. For long time readers of this blog you know where I will be heading. For those new readers I am sure that you will recognise the flag below.

nya-zeelands-flagga

I hope to be able to post while I am there depending on available time and access to internet.

Until then Happy New Year!





NZ 2013: Summary

6 03 2013

As with many other geocachers I like statistics. 😉 so here are some to share with you.

379 finds in total in 32 calendar days / 24 caching days

    1. 332 traditional
      4 multi-caches
      26 mysterys
      2 letterbox hybrids
      2 virtuals
      10 earthcaches
      2 events
      1 CITO
  • My main target for the vacation was to find all ten of the oldest caches on the South Island and that has now been done.

    NZSI10Oldest

    Most of the caches were found at the lower end of the D/T matrix but 23 were rated with D or T of three or greater. Last year when I visited New Zealand I found 221 caches of which 30 were rated with D or T of three or great.

    D/T matrix but no completed row or column

    D/T matrix but no completed row or column

    I don’t want to know how far I drove during my stay on the South Island but a good indication can be obtained by looking at a map of my finds.

    379 finds in about a month of hunting

    379 finds in about a month of hunting





    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.





    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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