Monday 11 March 2013

More, please.

"Another beautiful day in Paradise!" said the whistling builder unpacking his truck as I walked past this morning. And so it is: though there's an autumnal nip to the air at the start and end of the day now, the bit in between is still glorious summer, hot and dry and perfect. The farmers are gasping and the official drought area currently covers most of the North Island, but I'm selfishly hoping the weather continues for at least another couple of weeks.

Next Tuesday I'm heading off back down to Southland, for another fix of fabulous South Island scenery. Chris Hadfield has tweeted this morning, in answer to a question about his pick of the eight (eight??) wonders of the planet, that third in his list is "S NZ", up there with sunrise, the Outback, Sahara, Kamchatka, Grand Canyon, Great Lakes and "where the ocean touches the land". Impressive company, but the South Island fits in there perfectly.

I'm going to Stewart Island (hopefully to see kiwi in the wild) and to the Catlins, having been to neither before - and also to western Southland, passing through Riverton, scene of my first teaching practice *cough* years ago, to take on the prosaically-named Hump Ridge Track, a 3-day tramp the first day of which rather frighteningly goes from the beach up to almost 1000 metres. Even seasoned trampers, which I am very far from being, report that there are sections which are "tough". So - quite possibly pathetically inadequately - I've moved my morning walk up a notch, doing a double ascent of the 132 steps on the route. [The fat man who lives at the bottom, in a tatty bach on an enviable section, called out this morning as I set off (briskly) on the first climb, "You're meant to run up!" In a literal, if backwards, example of esprit d'escalier, it was only at the top that I thought of replying pointedly, "That's what you do, is it?"] I'm expecting too much sweat and not enough breath; but also hoping for my reward in views which track reviews unanimously describe as "absolutely stunning". So, please stick around, summer.

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