|A snowy peak|
|Maurice the firemaker|
|Katie w water-repelling skirt|
|Tramping through the tussocks|
When one looked at Larry’s oversize backpack, however, it seemed we had brought excessive gear. Much of this excess was due to our lofted sleeping bags. These were developed to keep folks warm in -10 N American climes and although they’re very light, they do take up space.
As it actually SNOWED on our first night up high in the mountains the sleeping bags turned out to have been a great idea. We shared the snow with a few Wekas of New Zealand’s threatened bird species. These large and clumsy-looking birds are sometimes confused with the mostly-nocturnal Kiwi. In contrast, Kiwis are smaller and shy. In fact, apart from a similar colour and a sharper and longer bill for its size, the Kiwi is not at all like a Weka. Like its fellow New Zealand species the scavenging Kea - a type of parrot, Wekas hang around campers looking for treats. In New Zealand - as everywhere else -the message from naturalists is: Please don’t feed the animals!
I had failed to bring mitts - Larry handed over his to warm my freezing hands. A bigger mistake was to wear my running shoes for tramping through freezing mud. I did learn that with completely wet cold feet you neither GET blisters, nor would you feel them (due to having frozen feet) if you DID get them. I brought my hiking poles and these (mostly) kept me from sliding off muddy slopes.
|Dutch sisters - 'puzzling' and tending the fire|
|Weka in the snow|
Now we look forward to a relaxed Christmas amongst old and new friends at Maurice and Katie’s home – ‘Winter Quarters’.