Spring in Cromwell and Wanaka

Me on the hills, Honza on the kayak.


Iwy and Honza

11/20/20239 min read

Winter ended before it really started and spring came fast. With it, also came the end of our work at the ski resort on Mt. Dobson. In addition, I also planned to renew my ski instructor license, so right after the end of our season I went skiing to Cardrona. It was quite hard work and compared to the Czech lessons, we skied a lot more and devoted ourselves to the correct carving technique, so I really enjoyed it.

But we didn't enjoy the vacation very much. Due to the short season and lots of windy days, we didn't earn much, so I arranged for us to work on the orchard in Cromwell right after the winter. We already worked for them last year, so they hired us right away. The work consisted in thinning the apricots so that they had more room to grow and could grow to their respectable sizes.

We soon found out that it's not summer yet, and it's not getting any significantly faster, when it rained one morning and despite six layers of clothing and a raincoat, we were frozen like icicles. But twenty minutes of heating and drying the gloves over the stove helped and the remaining seven hours at work could somehow be survived.

Unfortunately, it was not the last such shower and the next one was even with snow. Well, it was quite fun picking fruit in a blizzard. Even though this season is much better for fruit than last year's, we still didn't pluck all the trees, and in the end it was only less than four weeks of work. But that was enough for us and we could go on some trips again.

From Honza's diary:

Shotover river

During the weekend that Iwy was doing a ski course on Cardrona, Sam took me and Simon kayaking on the Shotover river, which is something as a local Salza (Famous kayaking and rafting river in Austria). The lower section with rapids of difficulty ww 4(-5) are only for experienced kayakers or rafters (which I finally did a few weeks later on raft), but we were aiming for the upper and middle section, with beautiful waves and flowing tight gorges.

However, when we turned the car off the road into Skippers Canyon, the sign said the road was further closed due to a landslide. But once we were there, we didn't want to go back and decided to drive on and hope that it would somehow pass. The narrow road through the rocks of Skippers Canyon was impressive. I think some scenes from The Lord of the Rings were also filmed here. In addition, this entire area was affected by the gold rush in the past, so even when the river flows, the remains of mining can be seen in places.

But it was a good thing we only took Sam's 4wd. Our vans wouldn't leave here. In places, one prayed that the road would not break away with us. Especially after I saw the wreck of the car down below the cliff. Apparently, we reached the drop-off point, where we leaned the bike against a tree. After arriving, it will serve as a lift for the car.

During the next trip upstream, we had to stop in the only cottage - the local office of jet boats for the radio.They sometimes do wild rides against the current for groups of tourists, and you really don't want to meet with this fast boat against each other in the rapids. We continued on and began to believe that the landslide was already cleared and they just forgot to take down the sign. Of course, we reached it a while after that. The first glance showed us that we would not be able to go any further by car and that we would not see the upper section of the river today.

The whole road was taken, we will be glad if we even skip it on our own. But the middle section of the river below us looked nice too, so we threw the kayaks over our shoulders, carefully crossed the landslide and continued a short distance to the river without a car. We finally got on the water and started enjoying the first waves.

I have to take my hat off to Simon, who once had a kayaking course with school on the channel in Troja (Prague - Czechia), but since then he hasn't sat in a kayak on any river, so this was his premiere and straight for the lucky ones in New Zealand. He might have thought otherwise about his luck, because he soon rolled and then spent a considerable amount of time breathing it out on the shore. Then he cracked himself twice more, the last time with a stone in the way of his nose that caused him bleeding. But still a good performance on the first river.

Then the radio started to crackle. I don't know if it was broken or we got a leak in it, but we didn't understand a word of the message. Ten minutes later, a moment after going down the unpleasant rapid, a boat with wild Asians rushed past us upstream at full speed.

It was getting cold in the canyon, so we were glad when we reached the landing. And Sam, and thank God, won the opportunity to ride his bike over the hills for the car. In the meantime, Simon and I made a fire by the river and warmed our frozen hands. Although we couldn't ride the entire Shotover river section, the trip was a success (except for Simon’s nose) and I would like to return to this river sometime.

And this time there is a video instead of photos! :)

From Honza's diary:

Roaring Meg

After paddling the Shotover river at the weekend, Sam and I agree to go on a regular Tuesday evening river paddle in the Kawarau gorge. Experienced kayakers from the wider area come here to train, so maybe I'll have a look.

I'm a little nervous about Simon, who although he won't join this time, but willingly shows me a video on YouTube, where the water vortex sucks the kayaker and the boat under the surface for a few seconds. I have yet to have such an experience in my collection. And I'd rather do without it.

On Tuesday afternoons, we packed so long that all kayakers were already gone. So we sit on the water practically alone. As soon as we enter the stream, I see funnels forming all around. The gorge here is narrow and deep, and the current rises from both sides to the middle of the river, where large water eddies form and where the side currents are driving me crazy. The popular advice to stay out of the interface doesn't work much here. As well as Sam's good advice "watch out for those faiths" and "try not to capsize".

When I capsized first, by some miracle I manage to roll. But a few seconds later, one of the vortices sucks me in from behind, and I disappear in it for a moment, along with the ship, like the poor man in the video. I have to admit that it is a new and interesting feeling when it spins you on its axis, but I am still happy when the vortex lets me go and I try to get up. Unfortunately, I'm almost out of breath and I can't even do the roll. And I'm already swimming.

Fortunately, I will soon be able to swim with the boat to the shore. I pour out the boat and wonder if it's better not to pull it straight to the road and get picked up by car. But Sam talks me down, which I'm glad about later. The worst is behind us and we are mainly waiting for waves for training. We arrive just in time before dawn.

I have to admit that I have never paddled a similar type of river before. Definitely an interesting experience and we'll see how long it will take me to come here again.

From my diary:

Breast hill

After thinning apricots, I desperately needed break, so one afternoon I drove to the town of Hawea by the lake of the same name and went to spend the night in a hut on the hill. Honza is going to take a break and edit some videos from kayaking and at least I won't disturb him.

From the beginning, the trail was mostly flat and followed the lake. But then the climb to thethe ridge started. The views kept getting better and better. From the Pakituhi hut, it's about 200 more altitude meters to the top, so I left my backpack there and went for a run. Although the wind was quite cold there, I just sat there for a while, enjoying the views of the beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks and Aoraki - Mt. Cook stood majestically in the middle. I would like to climb it one day. She looks really stunning.

When I started to feel cold, I run back. A couple of local girls were just resting at the hut, we chatted for a while and then they also went to the top. In the meantime, I was cooking me a dinner and reading magazines about tramps and New Zealand nature. As the sun set down, it was suddenly quite dark in the cabin, and since I hadn't bought a candle and I didn't want to turn on the strong light of the headlamp, all I had to do was go to sleep. The power bank, which has been annoying me for a while now and won't charge, resisted even tonight and I didn't squeeze a single drop of energy out of it. Great. I have 15% battery on my phone, so I hope it will be enough for tomorrow.

In the morning, after breakfast, I got up early that I would have time to go down the ridge before the sun started to shine on it. Yesterday, even though it was already after three in the afternoon, it was still very hot. I don't really like the heat at all. I managed the ridge in the shade, but the rest of the route along the lake and a large part along the river towards Wanaka was already bathing in the sun. I got burned again. And this time I applied the cream twice! (How I hate sunscreen!) Along the way, I had plenty of time to think about the benefits of winter, but I won't dwell on it here.

I wrote to Honza in the morning with the remaining percent of the battery that we would meet at the artificial surfing wave half way to Wanaka. But what I didn't know was that he wouldn’t use his phone this morning and head off to another hill. So I waited for him in the shade for three hours and watched surfers and kayakers fooling around on the wave. And I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. So the whole time someone was asking me if I needed help or to need lift somewhere. People are really nice here.

When Honza arrived, we we off to home. Well, I mean "home" to absolutely everything, more precisely to the temporary home on the orchard in Cromwell. We have the last week on the apricots and then it's off.

From Honza's diary:

Corner peak

Iwy and I often disagree about who is in the mood for action and who is more lazy. I drew lazy days for the weekend. Ivča is planning a trip over the ridge from Wanaka to Arrowtown, so I offer to drive her and pick her up on the opposite side the next day. So in the morning I get into the car in just slippers, a lot of things remain for the set in the container (where we got them out of the car before the technical inspection).

But on the way changes her plans and decides on a trip from Lake Hawea to Brest hill with an overnight stay at a cottage. I'm still kind of lazy, so I let Iwy go out and enjoy my little break by the lake. The next morning, however, I'm suddenly in the mood to go somewhere, so I go to the trail on Corner peak, which Sam recommended to me earlier.

But when I get out of the car I find that I am missing a few things that were left on the set. Such as a backpack, sunscreen, trekking poles and any kind of shoes. The snow is still on the top at 1,683 meters, but I still set off in my fancy Adidas slippers. I throw an ski touring backpack with a broken zipper on my back, which Ivča took yesterday from the trash can at Wastebusters.

At the beginning of the path, I find a wooden stick left alone by the previous pilgrim, which I take as a walking stick.(Note: I think the outfit was not very different from the Czech tourists in the High Tatras in Slovakia) Sometimes I climb to the snowy peak barefoot without slippers and I feel like a Hobbit. Sometimes ultra-runners overtake me with wide eyes or point out that my backpack is wide open (broken zipper). They have probably never seen such an individual here.

At the next kilometer my stick breaks and I only have it the size of hobbits. On the ridge, views of the clear blue lake and the opposite snowy peaks begin to open up. After noon, at 1300 meters, I realize to check if I have a signal and by chance, if Iwy hasn't texted me. I find out that she wrote about two hours ago, and when I started up from the car, she was already waiting at the river. So I turn it back and run down the hill with the ultrarunners for a while in slippers and for a while barefoot.

The top of the Corner peak is waiting for us until sometime next time, that time hopefully with better equipment.