Monday, February 27, 2012

Otago Central Rail Trail

I don't know why it is called that. It is in Central Otago so you would think it would be called Central Otago Rail Trail.

However, we are in Alexandra, 8 kms from one end of the 157 kms trail in Clyde. Tomorrow morning we shall drive to Middlemarch, at the other end, leave our car there, and start walking back.

We have split the walk into 5 stages and booked the accommodation accordingly. As you can see, there should be an average of 31 and a bit kms per day, but because of the accommodations not being quite obliging enough situated, Friday will see us walking 42 kms, or the full marathon distance. I have walked this only once before, during VBW, on the first day in England, with Septimus. In fact we walked 43 kms that day, with the disadvantage that we did not know it was coming. Another disadvantage was that it was very, very hot. Here it will also possibly be very hot as in the summer this is the hottest and driest part of New Zealand. Except on Thursday, apparently, when it is scheduled to rain over the whole country, so we are unlikely to escape.

Gay has never walked that distance before, although she has regularly, in New Zealand, including this very morning, walked 25 kms.

Our baggage will be moved on each day by a service which restricts the weight of each bag. That, and the fact that the baggage will frequently be unattended, mean that I will not be taking the laptop with me. So any blog postings, photographs, et cetera, will have to come after the event.

We are really looking forward to the next few days as the Rail Trail passes through some wonderful scenery.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Little Big Walk Coming Up

We didn't know about it at 9 am this morning. At least Gay didn't. Then I came out again with the ominous words "I've had an idea". Now we are all booked up to walk the 157 kms of the Otago Central Rail Trail, starting next Tuesday, in 5 days.

The Rail Trail is a former railway line which was opened 12 years ago today for cyclists, walkers and horse riders. It is very active with cyclists in particular and has been an economic boon to the area, with companies hiring bikes, arranging accommodation, transporting luggage, and many providers of food and accommodation.

It was while walking sections of this trail that I had the original inspiration for Vic's Big Walk. We have probably walked more than 1,000 kms on various sections, and we have in the past cycled the length of it, starting in Clyde. Next week we will walk it, starting at the Middlemarch end. It is spectacularly scenic. I am hoping the weather is good so that I can demonstrate that to you on this blog.

These are NOT pictures of Gay persuading me to walk the trail.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lilliput Or Brobdingnag?

Gay used to ride her own motorbike - a Moto Guzzi.

I don't know whether the bikes have grown since then, or if she has shrunk!

Single-click pics to make them bigger.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Weather Contrast

Gay and I covered 100 kms on foot last week, with a further 50 kms on bicycle. It was a bit of a shock to the system after a year or so of much, much less. And after the first long march I was not a happy bunny because it seemed the plantar fasciitis had returned. Surprisingly, the next morning it had eased off again and has not really troubled me since, despite further assaults. I can tell it is there but it is not getting worse.

We are now at Kaka Point in the Catlins, pretty much as far south as you can go in New Zealand. The weather is good, as you can tell in the picture of Nugget Point, to which we walked this morning, although there is a very strong easterly wind. At this latitude, the wind whistles round and round the world pretty much unimpeded, as does the Southern Ocean, which makes the latter such a dangerous and exciting place for sailors.

The second picture, kindly sent to us by Ang, our next-door neighbour, is the scene outside our home this morning. I think we did the right thing coming here. :-)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Missing It Already

In Akaroa we felt several of Christchurch's earthquakes and as we left there on Monday we heard the news that they had just suffered the 10,000th - don't listen to the weasel word "aftershock" - they are all earthquakes.

We drove south for more than 400 kms to Alexandra, where the whole idea of the Big Walk started. Here we suddenly launched into our usual program of walking more than 25 kms a day, at route-march pace, finishing before lunch. It was particularly hard this time because, due to plantar fasciitis, I have not done much walking at all in the past 12 months. The first two days were gruelling, but it has become a little easier now.

Nicola sent me the photograph this morning to remind me of what we are missing in Europe. Of course it is summer here, although not a particularly hot one. In the meantime Europe seems to have been hit by especially severe weather. The reports on tv and in the newspapers here have been of temperatures in Central Europe, down to minus 20 or 30 something. We have no idea what is happening at home, but Nicola's picture is of my grandson Alessandro in their garden in Rome. She says she has never seen so much snow there (she has lived in Rome for more than half her life) and it was still falling as she "spoke".

We don't come to New Zealand every year to escape the winters in Europe, but it seems an increasingly pleasing byproduct of our travels.