The past four months have been something of a transitional time. I finished Te Araroa in early July, then spent eight weeks doing long days at the computer to get my Te Araroa book’s content ready for the publisher. Since the files all headed away for prepress at the printers I’ve been returning to a (slightly) more regular routine. It’s been great taking on some commercial shoots again, selling images and tinkering away with a future project.
Exercise fell by the wayside for a while, with both my achilles tendons chronically inflamed after walking 3000km but over the past two months I’ve started climbing and cycling again – both of which are working well to counter the effects of repetitive walking on my calves and tendons. It feels great to be slowly recovering. I’d just about forgotten how deeply satisfying the movement (and achievement) of climbing is and the fast motion of cycling was a novelty at first for a person used to walking speed. Even 10km/hour felt quick!
Hana will be making her own length of New Zealand traverse next year, but her mode of transport will be two wheels, as a participant in the inaugural Tour Aotearoa brevet taking place in February/March 2016.
Consequently cycling has been quite a high priority and I’ve been really enjoying joining Hana for long rides on Banks Peninsula and about the Port Hills as she gets her base miles in. In a moment of possible insanity we have both signed up for the legendary, if not esoteric, Le Petit Brevet – an annual event held on Banks Peninsula that involves riding an Everest worth of climbing and 300km in under 36 hours. I haven’t tried such an event before so I’m looking (masochistically) forward to seeing how the mind and body react to this challenge.
Walking the Canterbury High Country section of Te Araroa revealed to me a chunk of country that has been off my radar for a long time: the Lake Heron Basin and the Hakatere Conservation Area. It’s a region that has seen significant changes under tenure review, with some big swathes of ex-high country station land now in the conservation estate along with a plethora of old musterer’s huts. Te Araroa visits a few of these, and inspired by what I’d seen on the trail, we decided to head in there at Labour Weekend for an explore by bicycle. The following photos describe a full loop (with detours) of the ranges bordered by State Highway 77; the Rakaia Valley; Lake Heron Basin; and the Ashburton Gorge. There’s a map at the end of the photos.
It also made a great opportunity to test drive my new Sony A7II mirrorless camera – a more compact option than my usual Canon 5DMkII, that has some great benefits due to the mirrorless electronic viewfinder and a much bigger dynamic range. I’m using it with my Canon lenses via a Metabones adapter.
Day 1: 102.7km;
Day 2: 45.7km;
Day 3: 96.4km
The Department of Conservation have a great PDF brochure on the Hakatere Conservation Park.
Note that to ride between Glenfalloch and Lake Heron Stations via Lake Stream, permission is required from the station owners. Look em up via Google.