Glenorchy Back Country ; No Words

“Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words!”

Well at least Eliza Doolittle was.

Me, I would be better saying,

“Words, words, words, I’m so stuck for words!”

Which for anyone who knows me, must surely be a first.

I LOVE words.

I love working out their origins, the way they look on paper; their shapes and rhythms.     And I love the way they can have multiple meanings, depending on context, dependent on the company, the glint in an eye, the emphasis on a syllable, the quickness of response, the back and forth.

Words can bind or divide with such ease and speed they become almost the most powerful tool available to us mere mortals.

But I digress –

words, they confuse, confound and cause all sorts of meanderings.

Like our meander into Glenorchy Back Country, South Island, New Zealand.

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Don’t click on the blue map – nothing will happen. Just an overview of where ‘we are’
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This is the area we rode in 🙂

And for those who don’t know where New Zealand is, the bottom of the planet, almost in the Pacific Ocean.  I think God created the world from the top and as he moved down, his artistry became more and more breathtaking; his masterpiece complete at Glenorchy.

And that’s the point – this trip was SO amazing,

So breathtakingly beautiful.

So filled with laughter and energy and love and caring and support that

WORDS FAIL ME!!!!!

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Bijmin – no words 🙂

No really, they do.

From our first meeting for a drink, which ended up including a dinner, we knew we were in a special place, where like minded people understood the words spoken, the words unspoken, the meanings behind them.

People who immediately saw the laughter in an eye, or the nervous hesitation in the curve of a mouth.

We knew, without any hesitation that we were heading for a special 5 days and we were right.

Although perhaps heading wasn’t quite the right word, try meandering.

As some of us did on the way home via a fairy light boat or two (see blog All grown up? Really?) but to bed we went, finally.

Surprisingly, despite creaky heads for some, we were all up and ready to go as planned, bright and early referring to the day and time, not necessarily  the people.   See what I mean about words ?

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Queenstown early morning
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Lake Wakatipu – 75km long, 400m deep
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The crew the morning after that meandering night 🙂

And that was the beginning of a Real world:

no internet, no radio, no news, Facebook:

sometimes not even lights.

But again, words – there were lights, just not the ones we normally think of when using the word.

The sky was alive with lights, THOUSANDS of stars, breathtaking, moving, shimmering, glimmering, glowing, even flowing….. just endless stars that kept us spellbound.

A walk in the dark one night, clambering down the side of a cliff in total darkness trusting Bijmin our leader, lead us to more lights.

At first we thought they were stars, but they were not.

They were glow worms – THOUSANDS of them, hanging under a huge cave like boulder across the river, which in the dark was invisible to us, and creating a second heaven of starlight.

We gawked, silenced and humbled by the enormity and power of our universe and thought how easily we could have missed it except we dared to brave the dark and damp.

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We rode around mountains, seeing glaciers, snow, water as blue as the sky, and then as transparent as glass so that you couldn’t be sure what was reflection and what was mountain.

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Sunrise from our camp
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No words
beaty
That water
dart
That grass
aqua
Breathe taking
amazing
Whichever way you
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looked, left you
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speechless…
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no words
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Pistol gazing at the world…..
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No words….
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the Dart River… braided, beautiful, breathtaking….
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anyone for a wedding?
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the beauty of silence – created by the beauty around us… no words…
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The crew
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That’s Pistol again – and a VIEW – no words 🙂
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Cabbage trees, snow, mountains, rivers, air as clear as….. no words 🙂

We rode through forests.

With Beech trees as tall as cathedrals, moss and lichen dripping,

streams and waterfalls a constant surprise.

At times the forest was so silent we felt like the first and only people in the world.

At other times it was so full of bird sounds it made me laugh for joy.

The forests were filled with dreams.

Thoughts of dinosaurs, ogres, goblins, Bilbo, Gandalf, Frodo.

You name it, they were there.

Silent, watching us feeling them.

forests
sometimes steep, ……
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Both ways……
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silence….
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that up…… and
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and down feeling….
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No words…. but heaps of smiles….
lennox falls and that forest
That Forest….
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That Forest….

forest

The waterfalls, the walks, the views –

No Words….

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None of us could stop smiling for the sheer joy of being alive
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In a world so captivating
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On top of the world
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No words….. just love
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The look of love – Needs no words
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My ‘partner in crime’ looked always like the cat who had found ALL the cream…..:-)

We scrambled up and down, feeling, smelling, sensing the forest

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and took those candid shots!
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So much water – everywhere…..

We camped in cold, clear places and warm snug places.

We shared our meals with our beloved horses.

We brushed our teeth in public, and even had a bath with a view.

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Our camp – frosted grass, slippery decks, cold feet and hands but warm smiles and laughter to make our stomachs ache….
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and then the sun reached us……
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and thawed our frozen chairs
coffee time
Drinks were shared, with all sundry 🙂
sharing is caring
that’s mine…

 

Making lunch was always such an adventure

breakfast pls
What about my breakfast please…..?
never lost
At least someone knew where we were, or at least where we were going to be :
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“with a little help from my friends
private conversations
Some conversations were private….

 

Brushing teeth was an adventure 🙂

 

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and After 🙂

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so warm and welcoming

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What remained after a horrific fire 😦

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no words – just a new day
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As old as time itself……

 

my rusty
where are you?

 

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We lunched along river banks and on grass hills, we talked, we laughed, we giggled, we lay in the sun, we rode bare back, we swam our horses in glacial pools.

Returning from my first ever swim, bareback…..

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My first ever bare back ride – the face says it all 🙂
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The 3 Musketeers before we plunged into the icy glacial water 🙂 🙂 🙂
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Fun and….
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and games in the most beautiful country on earth….

We cantered, we jumped, we fell (or at least I did – twice in the first hour of our ride!!!!) we laughed again and shared- stories, drinks, food, fears, loves, joys, life with a capital L

 

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We felt like children on a school camp, in the moment, thrilling to the  joy of being alive, overwhelmed by the beauty of our surroundings, humbled by the generosity of spirit shown by our horses, stripped to our essence camping together and always laughing and playing.

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crew

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swim?

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Our last dinner together

 Our little group, from worlds as far apart as Tuscon Arizona, New Hampshire, South Africa, Nebraska, California, Sydney, Noosa, Melbourne were united, bonded forever by this experience.

Bonded by a thread as smooth as silk and as solid as chainmail.

Linked through our connection to our horses.

Joined by an experience that cannot be put into words and that cannot be replicated, nor understood except by those of us who were so fortunate to have experienced these remarkable animals, so patient, so responsive, so willing, so kind, so powerful in a country of such extravagant beauty.

No words.

crazy crew

 

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I left a part of my soul with Rusty my beautiful horse; Glenorchy Back Country and my new friends….

 

Photos are thanks to ‘the crew’ – I can claim No credit for them – very grateful team

Holiday Romance

Okay, so I’lll admit there was a time when I indulged in a few holiday romances, but that was many years ago.

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Now I am older and wiser and a whole lot more cautious.

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After all, the broken heart following such affairs is deterrent enough for me not to venture into those waters again.

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So I approached this relationship with grown up attitudes.  We would be together for 5 days, we would enjoy the time we had together and go our separate ways with no strings attached, no expectations and therefore, no pain.   Nothing could be simpler.

And so it was that we danced around each other, assessing how far we could push ourselves and each other.

We tested which buttons would produce a joy of such magnitude I cannot begin to describe it, and which buttons were clearly going to be a no-no with me left deflated and hanging on the ground, foolish and stunned by the speed of the whole chain of events!!!!

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Still I persevered, thinking the whole thing would be so worth it for 5 days.   And I believe he did as well as he stuck by me – faithfully and quietly.   Never looking elsewhere, always waiting for me to join him.

But he was not boring;  not submissive, quick to challenge me and turn a ho hum moment into an adventure.    There were times when he was confronting, prodding and dare I say it, even went so far as to goad me into losing my ‘cool’.

It was at moments like these that the encouragement and support of my girl friends  kept me ‘in the game’ so to speak and made it all worthwhile.

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And then it was all over and I had to leave.

I had been preparing myself for this moment from day one, but still, it was SO much harder than I had expected it to be.

A long kiss, and I walked away.

But no, not too far.

I came back for another cuddle and a whisper and he gave me a kind, soft, lingering nuzzle which left me oh so warm and fuzzy.

I was ready to leave him.

It was after all, just a holiday romance.

I love you.

I stalked him the day after I left to find that he was happy, content, eating well and showing little sign of distress.

Was I relieved?

Perhaps.

Just a little.

But hurt too, did it really mean so little to him,

this holiday romance?

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At home again with a slow heart I did the washing, hung it up to dry

and there it was!!!!!!!!

He had not just walked away casually without a backward glance.

He had left me a locket of his beautiful hair.

Well perhaps not quite a locket.

Rather a whole lot of auburn, russet short hairs.

But still a secret parting gift to remember our precious time together,

those stolen moments when we swam unhindered,

bare backed, not even socks or shoes;

in a delicious spine tingling icy glacial pool with no one around

(well almost)

Unknown.

They were there, clinging to my leggings – the leggings I wore on that special ‘bare back’ day.

Even After the washing machine had done it’s work.

Clearly, I had meant something to him, since he wove them so firmly into the cloth of my, was going to say soul,

but really just my pants and jackets.

Still, a gift from him to me.

So Just Perhaps, this wasn’t merely a holiday romance,

but a whole lot more.

The Big question now is,

do I live with ‘him’ around me for a little longer,

or do I use the band aid approach to purge all memory

with a lint stick?

 

“the look of love”

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All grown up? Really?

All grown up?

Well perhaps not All grown up

Just a little – both ways 🙃

Otherwise how do I explain a night out on the town – Queenstown to be exact with strangers?

Well Mum, it was like this you see, “ I Had to meet the people I was going to ride with – I mean I had No choice. So we met and I had to have a drink, just to be polite.

That drink just to be polite 😉 –

Turned out they were a lovely group of 👫 people, you would totally have approved Mum and we were really good and just had the one drink and then went to get some dinner. We totally planned to finish early because we knew we had to be fit to ride the next day.”

The dinner – we Knew, after the first sip of wine we would be friends for the whole 5 day ride 💕

And?

“Well after a great dinner with wine ‘and stuff’ ….

What stuff?

Well some Grappa, and some Kahlua and some Amarettos and some, well I think that’s all ….

Just some of ‘that stuff’ 🍷which confirmed we would be ‘friends for life ‘ 😉

Well I was on my way back to my Juicey Snooze (love saying that 😉) when my friend said she didn’t want to go to bed yet. Honest, I didn’t want to hang out but she did and I couldn’t leave her alone now could I?

So she took me to this fairy light boat to have a quick drink and she had never had mulled wine and so how could I say no?

And so?

The fairy lights boat and That mulled 🍷

And so we went, and we met these amazing young people who were such fun and it would have been rude to leave.

So you stayed?

Yes, well what else could we do? It would have been So rude to leave And we had such fun drinking mulled wine till they ran out …..

That lovely group of young people we met – I mean some responsible adult needed to be there – didn’t they? 🤣
I mean, what would You have done? 😉

And now it’s the next day and we have 🐴 horses to ride!!!

Help – maybe not so all grown up at all 😉😉

But it was Such fun 🤣

Sounds – Milford doubtful ; Doubtful certainww

Such is the strangeness of the English language. Or rather the vicissitudes of the New Zealand weather.

A very early start, compounded by the complexity of daylight saving switch (will I be an hour early or late, does it go back or forward; no not the time I get that – spring forward, fall back; but the actual watch)

Fortunately along with my sleeping pod, juicy snooze (I just love using that name) offered me a wake up call so I left the time forward/back calculation to them.

So bright and early I stood at a bus shelter along with a large number of sleepy Chinese tourists. No I need to make a correction- the tourists need no correction, the brightness does. There was none, for almost the entire day.

We stood silent in the dark and rain waiting as instructed for ‘the bus’ which arrive and with it the brightness of my travelling companions, John and Carla.

Brightness is as much a thing of the heart as it of the sun and so with brightness in our hearts we set off.

To Doubtful Sound because it was doubtful we could get to our planned Milford Sound for fear of avalanches.

Which made us more confident about than Captain Cooke was when he named it and refrained from taking his ship, the mighty Endeavour in for fear he would not get her out. Ever cautious he was.

And so was our bus driver as he wound his bus along Lake Wakatipu, a huge dark mass of water (400m deep!) on one side and cliffs reaching up into the dark in the other.

From Queenstown to Kingston to Garston ( the most inland city in NZ) to Mossman to Manapouri – such a mix of names) we saw through the rain and mist, fields and fields of grass so green it reminded me of a melted green wax crayon – intense, solid. Lambs so newly born they could barely stand on their wobbly legs, sheep shorn in anticipation of the spring weather so forlorn wet and I would swear shivering as we and they prayed for clearer skies.

Freishens, thick coated heads down, backs to the wind (producing 50 000 Litres a day 😯)

We drove through old fairy tale forests- beech trees 1000 years old; gnarled, misshapen with long tendrils of moss and lichen. These trees hung of to the edge of mountains so steep that when you looked through them you saw nothing but the darkness of the rock. Definitely fairy tale forests, in this weather of the Brother’s Grimm variety.

And everywhere water, from the heavens, from the rocks, from the snow and sometimes it seemed from the very bowels of the earth

(Trivia 7-9 metres rain a year!) felt like he had most of it today 😉🌧

Oh and did I mention the wind?

Or the laughs?

Or the wine?

We went on buses, boats, buses, footbridges and buses and boats and through it all – had the most amazing time

And to round off a perfect day – the sky turned blue, the sun winked at us; the lambs on our way home were playing, the cows grazed, the passengers snoozed, and we had an extra hour of daylight to savour the gift of nature in all her disguises

Here’s hoping the weather plays ball tomorrow when we start riding

All grown up 😉

How grown up I feel sometimes.

I know I know, my Jess travelled half way round the world all alone on busses and things – but still her 60+ year old mother feels grown up today.

A lovely last walk around Mount Albert and coffee with Desna found me at the airport – alone.

Well not quite alone; I was accompanied by ‘my stomach’. Was it a butterfly 🦋 (or two, or a hundred)? Was it a knot? Or was it the excitement stirring energy? Hard to tell.

We all know I have a mixed reputation when it comes to catching flights. Add to that the modern way of phone boarding passes that scanners seem to have endless trouble with and you will understand my sense of achievement at getting onto the plane and in the right 💺 seat. Such a grown up thing to have done 😉

So all set I was – Queenstown here I come in my ‘paid extra for window seat’ because the view you understand is worth every cent. Well yesterday it was, today is raining and clouded over from whoa to go 😯 but still yesterday the view was So amazing

Leaving amazing Auckland
Approaching Queenstown above the weather – That waited for us in the tarmac ☺️

A municipal bus ride into central Queenstown, short walk up the hill and here I am – totally the wrong age for Juicy Snooze. But what fun

Reminds me of our municipal hard rubbish depot- follow the coloured line – mine was green

A Tiny pod of a room (most are shared – think backpackers) with a shower 🚿 that would not cater to a large soul but in that score I am fine.

My pod bed – I have a window (paid extra for that too 😉)

And so if the rain stops, the adventure may take a different turn but for now it is coffee and the AFL grand final

Rangitoto, boats and boardwalks

A new day.

A new adventure.

A walk to the station, (So Easy to buy a ticket , So quick, So cheap – Melbourne take note !!!!) and a ride to Britomark at the harbour

Hot coffee at Botswana Butchery (nothing to do with the country – go figure) and a glorious ferry ride to Rangitoto island saw us start

A walk through spring , ice cream galore
That coffee in Botswana 😉[[[[[[

This island erupted from the sea about 600 years ago – a New volcano 😯

An iconic landmark in Auckland’s skyline- symmetrical cone of 260m looking over the Hauraki Gulf.

Looking ahead…..
Looking behind

The black lava dominates and yet vegetation is taking root and the island is a mass of green, black and more green, steep slopes and amazing views in all directions.

There is a single ‘road’ built by prisoners. Interestingly there were not POW but regular prisoners in the 1920’s who,for the last 6 months of their sentence were taken to the island to work.

The whole island is a conservation area now and very tightly controlled with the reintroduction of indigenous bird life eradication of rats and the cleaning of boots and sealing bags mandatory.

The Tui serenaded us almost all the time as we walked the boardwalk to the top of crater

An amazing day finished off with a return ferry ride, G&T to share notes and thoughts and impressions in the sun at the harbour; a delicious meal , gentle train ride and good walk up the hill to home from home

Farewell Rangitoto
Auckland harbour
Special meal
Quirky- Auckland harbour on a Friday night

And when I work out how to post the video of the Tui, I will 😉