Catchup Post to September

Well, I’ve been quite remiss of late with blogging, so, it’s time for a montage.

It’s winter here, although not massively wintery. We had a trip to Hanmer Springs with friends. Love the open street map app.. it’t just so much better than Google Maps for trails etc. Walked to a waterfall that I didn’t know existed (until looking at OSM where it was quite obviously marked as a destination :)

And a trip down to Tekapo, and sneaked a days skiing in at Ohau.

I’ve been playing a bit more chess. I’m still quite rubbish, but definitely enjoying it. Especially great when you can find a pub which has a chess board :). I also managed to win my first squash match against my friend Warrick. He’s beaten me every week for almost 2 years now, but, I have had _one_ win. Which was wonderful ;) This picture was from the following week, when, normality had resumed!

I’ve been doing a pretty sizeable upgrade at work, changing the operating system we were running (and the way it was orchestrated) from Ubuntu 14 to 18. My friend Glynn had a bit of space in his schedule and kindly took on a contract to help automate the upgrade (otherwise I’d never had time to perform the upgrade as well as all the other feature development). It was a great excuse to head up to Wellington and say hi, play some MarioKart on the N64, and catch up with my cousin Thomas.

We also sneaked in the annual mulled wine and mince pie party.

And I went on a 3 day ski course at Broken River which was both excellent value and a really good time. Thanks to Mark Megaughin for organising. And now it’s September, and spring has sprung again.

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Magdalen Hut

We headed in to Magdalen hut on the St. James Walkway (well, just off it). It was a super little walk actually. I’ve become terribly lazy of late, and, the thought of actually getting away takes quite a bit of effort, once we’re actually away then it’s easy :)

Anyway, had a brilliant little walk to the hut. We have been having some very grey days in Christchurch (unusual for here) so it was just lovely to get out and see the sun! It had been quite snowy up there, so, there was plenty of ice around (somewhat slippy on the track at places)

The hut itself was great. Whoever had been there last had left it immaculate. Nice 6 bunk hut, heaps of wood. We arrived about 4:30 and had the place to ourselves.. up until 7pm when a group of high school students arrived. They were made to sleep outside by their instructor though ;) heh.

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Lord Howe Island

I’d never heard of Lord Howe Island before. It’s a tiny little island about 10km long and about 600km from anything else, stuck in the middle of the Tasman Sea. You can see a google map here.

Anyway, some friends of ours had visited, and said what a lovely time they’d had, so, off we went. There are no direct flights from New Zealand, and, the numbers of visitors allowed is regulated (450 I think it is). So, we had to book through an agency, and, we had to fly through Sydney / Melbourne. We opted for Sydney as I have a cousin there so it was a great excuse to catch up. Aidan took us for a day trip to the blue mountains, and, generally looked after us very well! A coffee ready on arrival at the airport, I may have to take a leaf out of his book!

Then it was time to fly to Lord Howe for a week. We just had a fantastic time really. It was somewhat low season, but, we had pretty decent weather, and, made the most of it when it was fine. It did rain in some of the afternoons, but, we had some lazy days too. The OpenStreetMap Android app (OSMAND+) came in super useful again. It was just ridiculously well annotated. Even pointing out where the snorkelling holes are, where the turtles are. Beats the absolute pants off Google Maps!

We did do one boat-trip to do snorkelling further out on the reef. We were out for a couple of hours total, in the water for a bit over an hour maybe? I’m really not the best swimmer / that happy in the water, but, if you’re also like this, just know that with a wetsuit in the sea you’re really very buoyant. You hardly need to expend much energy to float around. It’s good ;). We had to take a couple of trips to where the turtles were supposed to be before we saw one, but then we did, and had a lovely 10 minutes or so just swimming along with it. Lovely.

Lord Howe is also a sad tale, much like NZ really. A pretty unique ecological climate has given rise to a whole heap of endemic species, which are getting slowly (or not so slowly) wiped out by invasive / introduced species. One particularly nasty critter is the Crown of Thorns Starfish pictured below.


Photo credit: CoralCoE on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-ND

They still don’t actually know how it got to Lord Howe, but, its here, and it’s slowly eating the coral. I have no idea what you’re supposed to do with a pest like that. Very sad :(

We also headed out to see the petrels which nest in their bajillions here. They’re very inquisitive, and, much like in the Attenborough clip here, they came to our calls (almost came a little too close for comfort. They really liked Maaike’s shoes..)

All too soon it was time to leave. We might go back, it was a lovely spot. If we do, scuba diving will definitely be on the cards.

Finally, if you’re wondering how we took the photos – it’s an olympus tough. They’re fantastic cameras, fantastic macro and obviously waterproof too.

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Planting Trees

Well, we had a wonderful trip around the world in 2016, and, while I’m sure it’s not perfectly accurate, we did contact Ekos who are a local organisation that basically plant tress to offset your carbon. Yes, it’s basically a big cheat and the planet would be far happier if we didn’t fly around the place, but, anyway here we are.

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