Patricks New Zealand Weblog

North West Circuit of Stewart Island

north west circuit

Looks small doesn’t it? Well, the North West Circuit is no small walk. It’s not exactly like biking the entire length of the South Island to raise money for charity like Ruth & Neil and Mark did recently (well done! what a mission), but it was quite hard work all the same.

The NW circuit is a 10 day walk, but we cut off the first almost 2 days by getting a water taxi to freshwater landing.


Here’s a link to topomap. We started on the 23rd of December, and really didn’t expect to be walking with anyone else. However, we got the water taxi in with Harold (a fellow Dutchman). He is quite the walker. He has previously walked the length of the South Island, and has been to NZ 3? times now. He has hiked a lot more places than I have!

Anyway, walked in the first short day to Masons Bay. The track was oh so dry, very unlike when I was last there with my friend Orla, many moons ago. Here you can see what the track was like the last time, and beside, this time.


So, we’d expected to have the track to ourselves, then we bumped into Harold, and then, at the hut, met my friend Luke and his partner Donna who were doing the same tramp as us! So it was 5 of us together for the next 8 days. Actually turned out to be lovely really, lots more chats.

Anyway, great sunset at Masons Bay. We walked out to see kiwi, and this time walked towards the old homestead (rather than the last time I was there, when we walked towards the beach). We saw 2 kiwi (having a fight at Maaike’s feet actually), a great way to start the tramp.


The rest of the days kinda blur together, so I think I’ll just put up a whole bunch of pictures rather than talk too much about it. It was quite hard work the first few days with the really heavy packs, but it did get lighter. My feet suffered a little bit in the heat, but the blisters weren’t too bad. Dehydrated food was the staple for dinners, and it wasn’t that bad as we’d borrowed a dehydrator and made our own food (as well as bought packets), so it was tasty enough.


We were so very lucky with the weather. Well, we had planned to go at this time of year as it is that little bit more settled, but still, we only had 1/2 a day of rain the whole trip. That is unusual for Stewart Island. We did get one decent view of a kiwi during the day time – super happy with the video :)

Very happy!! They are just so impossibly hard to see unless they’re moving.


We saw a few of these signs.. suggesting that you might be tired, that other people in the hut might be tired, and that you should think about getting a helicopter out ;)


Here’s a picture of Luke. He was wonderful to have around, very knowledgeable about the various birds and plants etc. And making good suggestions about shortcuts & sneaky cut-throughs to beaches etc. Somewhere along the way we had Christmas (in Hellfire hut). We brought (and shared!) port. It was well received :) (dinner was lamb, of the dehydrated variety)


Eventually it became less beachy and a little more foresty, but lovely stands of Rimu.


Remember what I was saying about Kiwi before, being hard to see.. well.. in the middle of that hole is a kiwi, and it’s right beside the track. As we were walking past it let out a huge shriek, and then played dumb. So, gave it’s position away, and then.. regretted it I suspect. Not the smartest bird in the world, but there are about 20 or 30,000 of them on Stewart Island now. No stoats, and the nastiest type of rat isn’t there either. Good times.

Did see this kaka on our second last day. He was making a noise, which I imitated and he came down. I’m not sure if he would have come down anyway (I like to think he wouldn’t have ;) but he really hung around for a while. I was so very disappointed in the camera though.. it just didn’t perform well in the low light… I am planning on returning it actually.


Then, a final stay at Bungaree Hut on the way out, even went for a swim!! It wasn’t the best nights sleep, as somehow the mosquitoes were able to get in easily. There’s nothing quite as fun as trying to sleep with the whine of a mozzie in your ear.


Finally it was the last day. It was … hilarious, the transition back to the “great walk”, the Rakiura circuit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful that DOC put in these walks and make the outdoors accessible to lots and lots of people, but it was just such a change from what we’d been walking on.


Definitely whetted the appetite for more long adventures though.

Here’s a pic of Harold when he stayed at our place. Very tall! (even for a Dutchman)


Good times.

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The many faces of Lake Mavis

Lake Mavis Map

Nice to be able to reuse the map from the last time we were at lake Mavis. Funnily enough, I wasn’t expecting to find it quite as easy as last time, but actually it was fine. Unsure why! Nice enough walk in, if busy, as there were quite a lot of people out practising for the Coast to Coast race (early Feb)


Saw these guys on the way up..


And, submitted again to naturewatch. I do love that website :)

Anyway, I don’t think either of us were expecting snow on the tops, or the lake to be icy.. but it sure was. Definitely a different experience from the last time we were there.


The walk down is always a fun one, but the knees didn’t complain that much. I can strongly recommend walking poles for making life a bit easier with heavy packs.


So all in all a lovely walk for the weekend.. it’s nice having such beautiful places only an hour and a bits drive away (ok, and a 6-7 hour walk uphill ;)

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Timelapses with the Raspberry Pi

When I left Egressive, they gave me a Raspberry Pi (a very small computer) to play with. The Raspberry Pi (or Pi) in my opinion, is one of the most exciting developments in computers in the last while. The reason being, it allows, for very little money, people to experiment with programming, with making their own “stuff”… definitely a part / precursor to the Internet of Things. Part of the work of the Raspberry Pi foundation is fostering literacy regarding computers, get kids playing with them early… it has taken off in a big way in the UK (where it started) and as such I would expect in 15 years time to see a lot of exciting developments in the tech scene in the UK.

Anyway, I bought a little camera, hooked it in, wrote a short script to take pictures and turn them into a video, and now, every day, I (automatically) get a new 2 minute timelapse.

Here is one of the better ones (yes, I did change the camera angle 1/2 way through as I was home)

It’s partially documented on my wiki. I also spent a couple of days throwing together my first “single page app” to display the timelapses. So.. if you want to see the very latest ones – just checkout

The site is certainly unfinished, but it does the trick.

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Egressive Catchup

I really enjoyed my time working at Egressive (which is no more, now Catalyst), mostly due to the excellent folk who worked there, a more talented bunch of people it would be hard to find. Anyway, it was long overtime for a catch up… so.. a catch up was had.

How much will be remembered is anyone’s guess. Great night though ;)


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Viv & Judd’s wedding

One of the very lovely happenings to come out of Outward Bound was that of Viv (our instructor!) and Michael (known as Judd) getting together, then engaged, and now married. Photographs were banned during the ceremony, so no pictures of them, but here are two others – Michael (known as Money) and Ryan, with their respective partners, Olivia and Casey.


It was a really nice ceremony, so very many nice touches, it was very special to be invited down for it. I did enjoy the paper lanterns :)


The following day, Maaike and I sneaked off to do Mount Ithsmus…

View Larger Topographic Map

Only 1386m high, but quite a slog to get up there. Great views though :)


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Final week in Ireland

I had a final week back in Ireland to hang out with family before heading back to NZ. It was a lovely 5 days, mostly spent hanging out with mum and dad, seeing their new house, meeting up with friends for a pint, dinners with my brothers.. yeah, it was lovely, and far too short.


Then the flight back to NZ, to the tail end of a winter season that I was very happy to have missed, as it seems the snows were just awful, quite possibly a portent of things to come. We’ll see.

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Delta Works

For the last part of our excellent road-trip, it was off to Zeeland (where New Zealand comes from) to see the Delta Works. Another UNESCO site, here we celebrate human engineering I suppose. The Netherlands has a very long coastline, and it would be even longer without the Delta Works. What the Delta Works does, is to shorten the coastline. Here’s a picture (CC:BY Classical Geographer)

The Netherlands came up with a risk profile that they were prepared to agree to, and then enshrined that in law and put aside the cash to keep the flood defences maintained. Different parts of the country have differing levels of risk associated depending on whether you’re in a flood zone. That is, some places will be purposefully flooded if the water gets to certain levels.

Anyway, a magnificent feat of engineering, but it sure had ecological effects, as you can imagine (places which were seawater becoming fresh etc.)


This was put in place because of the huge floods of 1953 when 1,836 people died in The Netherlands (307 in England)

We visited an excellent museum of the disaster (partly designed by Eveline du Perron, a friend of Maaike’s)


And then it was back to Posterholt and the end of the road trip. I had a really excellent time travelling around and getting to see a bit more of The Netherlands and spending time with Maaike’s mum and dad :)

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Leaving Fort Vuren behind us, we headed into town to hire a couple of bikes for the day.


I can empathize with this sign… it still surprises me how sore my posterior gets when biking longish distances on the (otherwise) very comfortable Dutch bikes..

Anyway, hired bikes, and went for a bit of tour through the streets of Dordrecht.. (I think?)


and then took a boat up towards Kinderdijk Kinderdijk. Kinderdijk is a UNESCO site which is the largest concentration of old windmills in The Netherlands. They were built in 1750, and while not strictly required for draining the polders, they are still in operational use. People do live in them (you can apply), but you have to be a certified windmill operator.

Anyway, a very pretty place, and interesting to see the drainage in operation.


You can go inside a couple of the windmills and see what life was like, back in the day. Here for example is one of the (childrens) beds:


Then it was a nice bike around the surrounds. It’s just such a lovely way to get around, and so many bikers everywhere.. good country for it (if windy)

I imagine this is a road that tall vehicles don’t travel down. I wonder if accidents happen… I guess they must?

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