photos – Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand hiking

houseET and I had a great time on the most popular day hike in New Zealand. Is it the best day hike in the world?

To see the photos jump to the permanent webpage in Rick’s photo archive. OPEN icon


photos – Abel Tasman, New Zealand hiking

houseOur Christmas beach hike on the north coast of the South Island. Beautiful!

To see the annotated photos jump to the permanent webpage in Rick’s photo archive. OPEN icon

Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand

Oct 11, 2002

A friend reminded me that life is precious. Reminded me to aspire to greatness; to be kind, patient and polite. To follow my bliss. To live every day as if it is my last.

Thank-you Denise.

I chase Captain Cook again.

I who had ambition not only to go farther than any one had done before, but as far as it was possible to go.

Captain James Cook, HMB Endeavour

Age 39, snatched from obscurity mapping Newfoundland, Captain Cook sailed in search of the Great Southern Continent.

Queen Charlotte Sound Cook made his place of refuge in the Pacific. He returned here 5 times, 100 days total, refitting his ships, tramping the same hills as I — now the Queen Charlotte Track.

I stepped ashore as Cook did first at Ship Cove.

I came to stretch my legs on this 78km 4 day walk. A tad shattered, I needed time off following the National Championships which we hosted in Christchurch. It was by any measure a quality competition.


But I left town deflated. Of the 14 athletes who competed from my club, several were disappointed with how they competed. I empathize.

Others had some great results. That is sport, I reckon. The delicious uncertainty is what keeps it interesting. (results of NZ Nationals — PDF file)

The only other to disembark at Ship Cove was Paul, a Dutch bio-chemist who had hiked Patagonia and in the NWT. (He immediately noted that the Dutch sailed New Zealand before Cook.)

We walked quickly. This sub-tropical Track is surprisingly tropical; giant ferns, waterfalls, strangling vines like steel cables. Some trees are covered with weird black lichen. The best sections are walking the spine of a long isthmus enjoying the views 400m down to the sea on both sides.


We were parched and hungry by the time we reached the first pub. (It is difficult to find true wilderness in New Zealand.) Monteiths Black happened — we then stumbled dark pathways to our backpacker cabin. Glow worms lit the way.

We did the first 2 days together enjoying a terrific seafood meal in Ponga. (Ponga is the silver tree fern, symbol of NZ.)

I took Paul on his first kayak paddle there.


I later joined up with hiking tour guides from Nelson checking the Track for their customers. I heard great things about hiking in Iceland and Greenland. Even better company were the numerous Weka, another goofy, supposedly flightless Kiwi bird. They are curious, fearless thieves stealing anything shiny. We were warned not to leave our boots outside! A farmer told us Weka steal his chicken eggs every morning.


It was a long sunny day to Portage — I did not realize I was exhausted until I arrived. A superb backpacker hostel, a gorgeous sea harbour. We shared a kitchen with 2 Kiwi hunters tracking wild pig with dogs. Cook had released the ancestors of these pigs.

Hunting is illegal here in the Marlborough Sounds but, I have to admit, wild pig bacon is tasty.


It is great to be on the backpacker trail. This is my element. Especially in New Zealand. One welcoming hostel provides free coffee and home made bread, transportation, information, library, and movie room — $C12 / night.

I am looking forward to tramping more Lord of the Rings landscapes. It is instantly obvious that Lord of the Rings had to be filmed in New Zealand. A quick quiz;

Which of the following places are in LOTR and which are actual geographic locations in New Zealand?

Cape Foulwind?
Mount Aspiring?
Mount Doom?
Middlemarch Bluff?
the Remarkables?
Mount Awful?
Mount Misery?
Dusky Sound?
The Snares?
Mount Dreadful?

(Answer at the bottom.)

You have to love a country which has a picture of Ed Hillary on the currency. (The new $20 bill features different adventure sports including kayaking and tandem skydiving.)

My friend Elaine from Saskatoon is coming in December. Also Greg Chartier and his family from Saskatoon. We will holiday together over Christmas.

I once thought I would spend 2 years in New Zealand; I have decided to spend just 1 year here. I will give up my job by Christmas, travel the country, and return on my 1-year open airline ticket.

Life is precious. Follow your bliss. Live every day as if it is your last.

– Kiwi Rick

PS Only Mount Doom is from Lord of the Rings. The other evocative place names are actual NZ geography.

to New Zealand

Mar 10, 2002

rick_mugI have been looking for work. I really need a Masters degree in Education in a hurry — preferably from a prestigious non-accredited University based on my present knowledge and life experience.

Anyone know where I can get one? …
Ian Wright’s job was not available.

I’m a sucker for the Olympics. You?

The Salt Lake City Games had some great moments. I loved the opening ceremonies. Curling was fascinating. (I must be a Canadian.) Skeleton was great. Cross country skiing was impressive.

The best was short track skating — no question. Madder than rollerball.

The hockey games were energizing. My favourite players were Wickenheiser and Fleury. There’s something primal about gladiators with sticks.

One sad line on this Olympics is the fall of the Soviet Union as a proud sports superpower. They are coming to grips with the beginning of the end of their world leadership in my field, amateur sport. Tiny, disorganized countries like Canada are starting to win more medals at the Olympics.

The media has this simplistic fixation on medal counts ignoring more important stats:

+ percentage of personal bests
+ performance / capita
+ performance / tax dollar spent

Besides the Olympics I have never been less interested in TV.

I’d watch more TV if only they had my kind of show on the air. Someone should broadcast nothing but bikini clad chicks posing in the surf for hours.

I heard Moby speak on copyright infringement — downloading digital media without payment to the artist. His interesting twist on this issue was to speculate that — if this kind of theft is inevitable in the future — only those musicians who can draw a live crowd will be able to thrive. Musicians must return to their roots as performers. He feels that many artists tour today only to boost CD sales & that many are not entertaining live.

I’m a digital artist too.

Check my latest page on my hiking site:

The West Coast Trail

Everything you NEED to know to hike the West Coast Trail. (Is it on your life-to-do list?)

WL recommended some great books, the Hyperion series by an amazing author, Dan Simmons. This is science fiction at least equal to Dune and the Azimov Foundation series.

The other significant book of late was given me by RS; Quest for Adventure, by Chris Bonnington, 1981. Bonnington, a famed mountaineer, compares 21 true stories of adventurers who challenged oceans, deserts, snow, mountains and space. The guy who first rowed across the Atlantic, for example.

The Golden Globe challenge was one of the best. Of the many who set out to sail around the world single-handed, a near impossible task, only one succeeded. One committed suicide. Another who might have won the race, came to despise our ferocious, competitive society — he kept sailing another half a world to Tahiti.


Looks like I am off to New Zealand in early April.

I will be Head Coach of the gym club in Christchurch, south island.

Christchurch peninsula
Christchurch peninsula

Come visit. 🙂

Humans Are Animals Too – West Coast Trail

Dear Parks Canada,

Humans are animals too.

A murder of crows took my bagel at 8:15 am July 25th at Camper Bay on the West Coast Trail. Please have the crows there humanely dispatched as you put down troublesome bears, cougars, banana slugs and Killer whales. …

For the rest of this comic travelogue on the WCT jump to the permanent webpage in Rick’s photo archive. OPEN icon