let’s have teriyaki taranaki for lunch

today we went on a tramp on mt taranaki.

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the day started out cold and drizzling, but we decided to head to trailhead and see if the weather cleared. when we arrived things were better, but knowing how extreme conditions could be on the mountain we checked with the doc ranger before starting our tramp. after getting the go ahead from the ranger as we were heading off to the trail we passed a group of 10 or so indian lads in their twenties – in short sleeves and sneakers for the most part. i give them credit for getting out and doing something, but we’re at the base of a alpine zone with severe and rapidly changing conditions. not surprisingly the rescue service here does a brisk business coming to the aid of tourists. they are currently looking for a polish tourist who went off on a tramp alone without filing a route plan – total needle in a haystack.

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we turned around at the alpine tree line. wild winds and bitter cold as you left the protection of the forest.

you can see the dramatic change in the photo on the left above.

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in the photo and map above you can see the clear boundary between the native forest in the national park and the surrounding farm land.

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city safari

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today we participated in the metlink city safari. hard to describe – but combine orienteering, a scavenger hunt and “amazing race” and you’re close.

technically it is called a rogaine and in a fixed duration event where you challenged to visit as many control points as possible. the control points are indicated on a map that is provided just 30 minutes before the event start. each control point has a difference point value based on it’s distance from the start, remoteness and physical challenge level. one 100 point control point was at the top of a peak several kilometers from any road.

the wellington event is special in that is is sponsored by the public transport system (metlink) so you can use the buses, trains and ferries to get around. actually given the distances between control points the only way you can get many points is to use the public transport for all it’s worth.

there were 6 hour and 3 hour events offered. the hard core competitors were in the 6 hour edition with us and most of the amateurs opting for the 3 hour event.

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here we are getting final instructions after receiving our maps.

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a quick speech by the mayor and we’re off. note the stylish bibs.

it had to be quite the site for others in the city that day. hundreds of fools with maps running all around.

our tactic was to grab one quick control point near the start and then take the bus all the way down to the island bay coast. we would then work our way back to the cbd and the finish line.

the photo on the right was this bizarre place we encountered on the way to control point 3A. it looked like a ride a disney. i kept expected to hear the splash mountain music playing. very weird to run into this in the middle of the wellington neighborhoods. still don’t know what it was.

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this is one of the two maps that we were given – this one covering the southern portion of the course. you can see our route with the green line bus journeys and the blue when we’re off on foot.

note that the map has no street names, so you have to use your map reading skills to keep track of where you are and how to get to your next control point. since this event was tied to the public transport system all the bus/train/ferry stops are marked (the little red numbers). they have a nice system here where you can text the stop number to a metlink number and it replies with when the next bus/train/ferry will arrive.

we only made one logistics error (it can been seen on the map as the blue line heading nowhere), but we quickly recovered.

one of the control points was directly across the street from our house on tiber street – a bit small worldish.

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here we are at the finish, still on speaking terms.

after the results were tallied we got 270 points which earned us 39th place. no need to mention that the team below us included a family with 4 kids under the age of 10 and several families with little ones in backpacks.

we figured we covered about 5k on foot and 10k on the bus. fully expecting to be quite sore tomorrow.

after the race the organizers had the full spectrum of snacks. everything from healthy bananas and organic sausages (kiwi oddity here – don’t expect to get a bun with your hotdog or sausage – it will be served on a piece of white bread) to cookies and dominos meat lovers pizza.

we’re looking forward to doing it again next year and expect that we can get several other teams organized from work colleagues and their families.

pan handling

today was the karori nature sanctuary’s annual street appeal and the jboss was out begging accepting contributions.

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jboss’ review of the day:

My two hour stint on the bucket brigade was pretty successful. It’s hard to say how much I collected as the bucket is sealed. I did have several people drop in $5 and one dropped in a $10, but the majority put in $1 and $2 coins. The hat with the bird on it was a good attention getter. Antony said I looked like dork, which I’m sure I did, but hey, I can be a dork if the cause is right. The two hour session was an interesting people experiment. My general assessment is that women donate more often than men. Women in Paris Hilton oversized sunglasses never donate (and often speed up to pass you by) and men in suits never donate (they were always on their cell phones). I will do it again next year.

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[ed. since this post we’ve been back for a tramp at the karori sanctuary and it really is fantastic. hard to believe you are just a few minutes from the cbd given the abundance of wildlife and density of the forest. unfortunately i forget my camera. looking forward to going back. highlights of the trip was encountering a pair of kaka birds (not joking – that’s their name) eating lunch and a large flock of tuis chowing down in a fruit tree.]

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will the students stand please

i’ve completed my first week of commuting on the bus and have learned a few new things.

  • the buses run on time so i need to also. twice this week i arrived at the bus stop 2 or 3 minutes after the scheduled express bus and it was long gone. the next bus was just a few minutes later but it ran the standard route that takes 7 minutes longer.
  • the #4 bus is just as good as the 1 and the 32. most of the time i take the 1 (island bay) or 32 (island bay express). on friday i missed the 32 and was waiting when the #4 (happy valley) arrived. everyone else got on and the bus driver had a “don’t you want to get on?” look but i held my ground. after it pulled away i reviewed the route and learned that from my stop it’s route into the city is exactly the same as the 1 & 32. doh.
  • riders on the morning bus are about 2/3 workers heading into the city and 1/3 students in their smart uniforms. students on their way to school travel on concession fares – 1/2 price. when all the seats are full the bus driver will announce “will the students stand please.” and without exception the students will get out of their seats and stand in the aisle, offering their seats to adults.

Bus Riding Indian Style

clean pure water

when you come to wellington you only need to buy one bottle of water. free refills that are as good or better are available for free – from the tap.

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with big mountain ranges surrounding wellington there is plenty of great water for now, but the council website discusses plans and options to accommodate growth:

New water efficiency options

We are also investigating whether new water efficiency measures could put off the need to build a major new water source, and what that might involve. Metering of households is one such measure.

cracked me up. i totally believe in all resources being metered so consumers have visibility to their costs – but it was just another example of how unspoiled nz still is. so much clean water that it is not worth metering.