About troutbum

Fun-employed wine, food & travel git with itchy feets...left New Zealand for Melbourne & now residing in Seaton, Devon, UK...oy.

Kayaking Doubtful Sound in Fiordland National Park – Oh Wow!

Site of Destruction….

A belated birthday present for Hound #2 was a 2 day, overnight kayaking trip on Doubtful Sound in the Fiordland National Park. Planned & booked months ago, the dates fell on an awkward period where we were 2 weeks into a kitchen / bathroom renovation / expansion and had to leave the house with most of the back ripped off. But operating under the theory that ‘shit happens’ we took off anyway…

Off to an Early Start…Crossing Lake Manapouri on the Ferry…Ferry Captain informed us all about going to Alert Level 2 – oh joy.

New Zealand at any given moment can have some very wild weather, as evidenced this past Spring with such massive amounts of rain that the South Island was literally cut in half  by floods & damaged bridges. And Fiordland is an area at the top of the wild weather list with rapidly changing conditions – mostly wet, windy & cold. It is a wee bit of a paradox to travel in Fiordland as you do want some rain so that the waterfalls come to life, but not incessant rain to make your kayaking time on the water totally miserable. We lucked out…the day & night before we set off on our kayak adventure got a decent dollop of the wet stuff but our first day on the water was perfect – still, calm water and no rain.

The Starting Point…

We booked out trip with Go Orange and met our great guide Cam just before we boarded the ferry.  After taking the bus over Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound, he whipped us (6 folks + Cam) into shape quick snap getting the kayaks to the water’s edge, shifting all the support gear too and getting us all suited up in thermal tops & leggings, fleece tops & hats, long John wet suits, paddle jacket & spray deck and life vests.

Let’s go kayaking!!!!

It is next to impossible in words or photos to accurately convey what natural awesomeness surrounded us  – towering rock mountains with sheer vertical walls that disappeared straight into the clouds & the dark water; at every turn a series of waterfalls ranging from mere trickles or slivers to big, gushing torrents; and dense & vibrant vegetation clinging to the vertical slopes that the movie wizards would be hard challenged to create with their CGI tools.

Cruise’n…Perfect Day – Enough Rain the Day & Night before to bring the waterfalls to life but still, calm & no rain first day on the water.

Our guide Cam was a wealth of information – from historical to the scientific (geology, flora & fauna, marine life, etc…). After several hours of leisurely paddling with lots of stop, rest & look time we headed for a rocky beach for some lunch. The weather co-operated and we had a good dose of sunshine and blue skies…

Our Lunch Spot…

After lunch, Guide Cam steered us to an area of the fiord that had suffered a major earthquake in 2009 causing the mountain in the picture below to be cut in half. You can see the crack to the right side of the photo centre but above the cloud bank it widens significantly. Guide Cam also pointed out several of what he called ‘travalanches’ where a huge section of vegetation, trees, ferns, palms, etc…rips away from the stone wall face & come crashing down into the water. Cam said he has heard several (sounds like a massive explosion or thunder clap) but has never actually seen one which he’d like to do!

Earthquake Crack – Just to the right of centre an earthquake split the mountain in 2.

Sheer Rock Walls that Go from the Top to the Bottom & Alive with Flora.

As the afternoon quickly passed by, Cam steered us towards our camp site for the night. After hauling the kayaks out of the water & resting them under a covered site (the NZ kea will cause mischief otherwise), we were all given a tent & Therma-rest sleeping mats to get set up ASAP before the evil sandflies devoured us. Go Orange maintains for the season an insect netted tent which offered a sweet respite from the blood drawing sandflies to cook our dinners (they provide gas cookers), chat and play cards. At 10pm it was time for a deserved sleepfull rest….

Overnight Camp Site

We awoke the next morning to a more typical fiordland day & weather – pissing rain and a slightly chilly temperature. We snarfed our breakfasts down & set about disassembling our tents & camp site and packing it away in the kayaks. Unlike the calm, glassy water of the previous say, a Southerly was moving up the Sound,  pushing the water into white caps & swells. It was at our backs which was the only good thing about it as our guide Cam kept looking over his shoulder to monitor the front & making some tactical kayaking decisions (skip lunch, make a bee line to the base, when to cross). He kept us close to the shore line for a good stretch which was calmer but he knew we’d need to cross to get back to the base camp. Crossing we hit a bit more water than we’d encountered before with swells crashing over the kayak’s bows but all ended safe & sound….

Stunning Rock Walls created when the Glazier Retreated…

Only to be shocked by the ferry captain’s announcement that the country had gone into Alert Level 3 and was headed for Alert Level 4 in 48 hours! Which set off a wave of panic as most of the crowd were foreign tourists in camper vans. We’d befriended a Swiss couple on the kayak trip & began helping them to hatch a plan as to where to go for the 4 week lock down. They decided to try & get to the North Island to warmer weather but were denied a place on the ferry in Picton. So they rang us & are now ensconced (maybe happily?) in our spare bedroom till things get sorted….

And in the ‘besides that Mrs. Lincoln how was the play’ category, we’d highly recommend the Go Orange overnight kayak adventure and all the better if you can get the great guide Cam…

On Our Way Home – Stretch the Legs Stop in the MacKenzie Country.

The Beautiful Boyle River Valley

Up River / Down River Views of the Boyle River

My fly fish mate Craig & I had been trying for more than a year to get a farmer to grant us access & give us gate keys to be able to drive into the Boyle River Valley, have a good fish & stay at the Magdalen Hut. But last season he made the decision to lease out his land around the river to some guides so it was a no go…he said to contact him early in the next season & he would work something out.

So Craig gave him a buzz first thing in the new trout season & the farmer was good on his word – it was just that the New Zealand Spring weather was not so good on its word and we had a wacky & wild start to the fishing season with torrential downpours which caused massive flooding and land slips…including on the farmers’s land. He said we’d have to wait till he could get the bulldozer and grater in to put the track back into navigable shape.

We finally got the thumbs up from the farmer & after a few hit or miss attempts at getting our respective calendars aligned, we loaded up Gertie the 1975 Series III Land Rover & toddled (that is how Gertie rolls) off to the Boyle River Valley.

Tried & True – Gertie the 1975 Series III Land Rover Gets Us There & Gets Us Out….

Given it was a Saturday and the weather was a stunner combined with the fact that the hut (only 6 bunks)  is part of the  St. James Walkway as well as the Te Araroa Trail, we were a wee bit nervous that the hut would be chocka with trampers. But our luck held out & we only had to share the hut with 2 nice Czech women.

One of the big advantages of being able to drive right to the hut (had to do a bit of 4WD – fun) is you can bring real food (and drink) since we were not having to worry about the weight to pack it in & out – yippee! So we tucked into a very tasty pasta & bacon dinner made by Craig and sampled a few decent Aussie reds & then to bed…

Up early to a cracker of a day (would be almost too hot) with an almost cloudless sky and not much wind (it was early yet). We decided to take the Land Rover back the way we came to an area where we could park up & scramble down the steep hill face to reach the river & then walk downstream to the end of the lower gorge & fish our way back up.

Mate Craig heads into the Boyle Gorge…

To say the day was a tough fish would be an understatement – we fished for 8+ hours, walked 13+kms and covered a damn lot of water but only sighted 6 fish (2 were on death’s bed as totally black) and managed to hook 1 good trout. It was a fantastic day for sight fishing with the conditions about as good as you could hope for and any water we could not see into, we fished blind. So no pool or run left unturned or touched…We ended the day with a foray into the upper gorge which leads to the Boyle Flats Hut as we had sighted several decent fish on a previous tramp. We went as far as we could go before the pool became too deep to wade & the bush too think to get through…

Me Fishing the Foam Line…sweet water…

We retreated back to the Magdalen Hut for a cold beer & a few sand flies….and devoured a lentil, carrot, celery, walnut & goats cheese salad I had assembled & finished off our Aussie red & sampled a very nice Sauvignon Blanc from Crater Rim

We would have to say that this fishing season so far, for us, has been not much to write home about as the trout are few and far between…our plans have been recently revised so that we go to rivers that actually have fish in them…down to the MacKenzie Country we think…

Birthday Tiki Tour To North Canterbury…

HOT OFF THE PRESS! 

If you don’t trust our palates then maybe you’ll listen to Winestatem with regards to Terrace Edge Wines!

“Whoop. Winestate Magazine have just published their best NZ Wines for 2019. We’re proud to say that of the 200 wines, six belong to us! EVERY. SINGLE. WINE we submitted for tasting got named on the list.

One could call that punching above our weight. We say it’s a reflection that small family vineyards create exceptional wines.

If you’re drinking our Syrah, Albarino, Rose, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir – you’re drinking some of the finest wine in the country.

Come and try them for yourself at our tasting room. Open Thursday – Sunday 11 – 4.30pm.”

Last week was my birthday and I did not want to do anything swish or expensive or OTT so we decided on a road trip north of Lyttelton with various stops along the way, but ending up @ Terrace Edges Vineyard for a wee tasting & toasties.

It was a cracker of a day weather wise so we piled into Gertie the 1975 Series III Land Rover & off we went…

Gertie…

First stop of the day was the Old School Collective, and the name pretty much says it all. A group of folks got together & purchased an old, abandoned school complex and proceeded to curate a group of independent, creative businesses (and a cafe called, appropriately The Office) to fill the empty spaces. The stores run the gamut from Twine Antiques (our favourite) to Good Dirt Flowers to Louise Who Pre-loved Clothing and even a Yoga Club. Twine was a standout – an antique shop that actually has antiques @ a fair price & not overpriced junk. Hound #2 made 2 immediate (right as we walked in the door) purchases & was very happy. After coffees & a shared piece of carrot cake @ The Office we continued…

A quick pop in visit @ the Brick Mill but it has changed & the one shop that held our interest has gone but Hound #2 managed to find a bargain plant pot…

Next stop was to be Mumma T Trading Lounge but it was not to be – as we strolled up to the shop they were carrying out the last of the shop goods & closed & locked the door!

With all this faffing around we were now hungry & thirsty, so onto lunch! We had been to Terrace Edge Winery a couple of times before & have always thought their wines (and olive oil & olives) to be top notch & pretty much have bought & enjoyed the lot. But we’d spotted on a previous visit a wee menu that offered toasties! So we sat down for the full vino tasting & ordered our toasties (a special combo deal – a toasties & a glass of wine of your choice for only $20 for white, $22 for red). I went with the Vietnamese Pork Toastie & washed it down with the excellent Pinot Gris and Hound #2 being a veggo ordered the Mushroom, Olive & Feta/Gouda Cheese Toastie & sculled it with a perfect Rosé. Delish.

Toasties!!!!

And as in our last couple of wine tastings @ Terrace Edge we liked the lot – and walked away with a bottle of the Rosé, the Pinot Gris & the Classic Riesling (that is what the wallet would allow) and some olives.

Terrace Edge’s Syrah Vineyard – As Steep As the French Rhone!

So if you are lost in North Canterbury or need a special place to take some mates or family, put Terrace Edge in the list & you won’t be disappointed….

Banks Peninsula Birthday Walk…

Onuku Farm Hostel – Super!

To walk the Banks Peninsula Track had been on our ‘to do’ list for some time, but Hound #2’s birthday was the final catalyst that pushed us into action. We set ourselves up to start the walk on Sunday November 17th so that we would be perfectly in mid-walk & be in Nature for the Big Day. The walk is superbly organised – all went like clock work the entire trip. To start, scooped up in Akaroa by a shuttle bus that took us to our first night’s accomodation – Onuku Farm Hostel.

What an amazing spot – beautiful facilities (the kitchens were better than ours at home), stunning grounds with sweet as views over the Akaroa Harbour and comfy as bunks, but also wonderful camping areas and special ‘star gazer sleepers’ (wee 2 person huts with skylight views to watch the celestial show). Worth a visit folks!

First Day’s Climb to the Peak – And on to Flea Bay…

The Banks Peninsula Track offers a bit of ‘glamping’ in that your big backpacks are shuttled from one accommodation spot to the next – excelente! So you are saddled with only your day pack. Makes for a much sweeter (and less sweaty) experience and lets you bring a bit more luxuries (vino, bubbles, decent & fresh food).

The climb up from Onuku will take some folk’s breath away – both for the wonderful views but also the climb is seriously steep…from 200 to 700 metres straight up hill. But you just need to take your time & stop to enjoy the harbour vistas, the flora & fauna & catch your breath before climbing on.

Descent to Flea Bay – Flora & Fauna & Waterfalls….and the Swimming Hole.

The descent from the peak to Flea Bay is a steep one & so different from the climb up in that rather than traversing grassy slopes, you are engulfed in the native bush of beech forests, palm trees & what seemed like hundreds of ferns of every type. Parallel to the track was a lovely stream with numerous waterfalls – Hound #2 HAD to skinny dip in the pool labeled ‘Swimming Hole’…ice cream headache cold.

Flea Bay

Our place for the night was a beautiful old farm house but with all the mod cons – good kitchen, hot showers, comfy lounge, sweet front veranda, etc…we took up the advertised offer on the kitchen white board to visit the resident blue penguin colony just around the coastal bend @ 7:30pm and they are not using the word ‘colony’ loosely – it might even be a city.

2nd Day’s Walk to Stony Bay – A Leisurely Coastal Stroll

Day 2’s walk is pretty much a coastal affair – not too strenuous but oh so postcard picture perfect. The forecast called for a threat of rather ugly weather but it seemed to be behaving itself…took some lunch time respite from the wind in a very cleverly built track shelter & made a short detour to observe the local seal colony.

On the Ridge Line above Stony Bay – 15 Minutes after this Photo the Skies Opened Up with Hail, Rain, Lightening & Thunder…

As we approached Stony Bay, the weather cranked its anger factor up a couple of notches but we sort of lucked out as the descent to the huts was through thick bush which protected us from the hail & rain…maybe not so much the lightening & thunder. We worried about our 2 German mates who were toddling along behind us at a slower pace. They ended up taking shelter in one of the rustic corrugated iron loos which I am not so sure is the best place to hide from a lightening storm?

Home Sweet Home – Stony Bay Cottages…Magical Place! Top Left: We called it the Harry Potter Shower with a huge tree going right through the middle; Kiwi take on a pool table; wee cottage; Main hut with 6-8 bunks, serious kitchen & dining area & a lounge area with open fireplace.

Our final night (and birthday night celebration) was at the Stony Bay Cottages – how magical! I wish I could just book myself a weekend here to hang out but you can only stay here if you are doing the track :-(. But what a perfect & fun night – I am guessing that Mark Armstrong (who owns the farm along with his partner Sonia) was the creative building force behind all the whimsical, recycled huts & buildings.

We made use of all the camp amenities – a wee game of badminton & then pool with our German mates, cold Moa beers from the well stocked camp store (have everything you need – vino, veggies, meat, bacon, eggs, etc) then wood fired baths with bubbles, then a delish birthday dinner of aubergine curry on rice with Pepperjack Shiraz (Hound #2’s fave) and a perfect bonfire side chat to end the night.

The Trail Back Home; Camp Store – Well Stocked & Very Fairly Priced; Wood Fired Bath…

Our Wee 2 Bunk Hut Complete with Resident Penguin on the Deck; Birthday Bubbles; Birthday Feast – Aubergine Curry on Rice.

Our final day was a walk out through the magnificent Hinewai Reserve – an absolutely knock your socks off place that much of the credit for its existence & continued growth (30 years old now) goes to the honourable Hugh Wilson. If you have never been, you need to go, and if you go, you should have a good squizzy of Fools & Dreamers which will fill you in on all the impressive details. If the Oxford Dictionary ever needs a definition or photo to explain the phrase ‘a labour of love’, well this is mos def it.

A Top the Ridge Line of Hinewai Reserve with Stony Bay in the Distance; Gorse in Full Bloom

Well, we liked this walk so much we most likely will do it again…It is hard in New Zealand to find serious value-for-money things to do, but this walk ticks all the right boxes. It costs $330NZ per person but with that you get the parking for your vehicle, shuttle bus to the first night’s accomodation, 3 nights of superb accomodation (you’d easily pay more than the $330 for just that in NZ), having your big pack shuttled from from place to place & stored at the Akaroa butchers for final pickup and, of course, the frigging walk!

Fire & Slice Woodfired Pizza – Sumner

Fire & Slice Pizza – Sumner

We had booked tickets to the Christchurch (in Sumner though) premier of the documentary ‘The Map To Paradise’ and thought it a prime time opportunity to try out Fire & Slice Woodfired Pizza.

After My Own Heart – Series 2A Land Rover….

Fire & Slice got me @ the Series 2A Land Rover in the entrance  😉 – what could possibly be bad about this place if they liked Land Rovers??? And we lucked out, as it was a quiet time on Tuesday night after what was apparently a CRAZY holiday weekend where they sold out of pizzas by 6PM on Saturday – that’s busy.

We had a good perusal of the menu whilst having a great chat with Pal Singh, the chef & owner. Decisions were made – I went for the Pepperoni Pizza & Hound #2 negotiated a not-on-the-menu Mushroom Pizza with Mozzarella & a smidgen of Blue Cheese

Wine was available (for $7.50 a glass – yay!) so we took two pours of an Italian red call Santa Cristina Rosco Toscana – a perfect pizza wine Pal Singh assured us and he was 100% correct.

Pizza Man Pal Singh…

After a short wait, 2 perfect pizzas arrived at our table – it was the best pizza we have had since returning to New Zealand 2 years ago…crust was perfectly crisped with some nicely darkened bits & covered in a wonderfully rich tomato sauce & just right melted cheese. And a deal to make ya squeal – total bill with 2 glasses of vino – $45. We will mos def be back Pal!

Mushroom & Mozzarellas & Blue Cheese Pizza

Pepperoni Pizza

Sizzling Miss Peppercorn

 

Miss Peppercon in Sumner

Hound #2 had requested as part of our Labour Day holiday weekend that I fire up Gertie the 1975 Series III Land Rover & head over Evans Pass to the village of Sumner so that she could collect some seaweed for the garden. And to really make it worth our while, I suggested lunch @ Miss Peppercorn

Miss Peppercorn is comfortably situated in the old Cornershop Bistro site (miss the Cornershop Bistro but Miss Peppercorn is a good replacement) and the menu offers quite an extensive selection of Szechuan seasoned plates (including vegan & vegetarian)…be very aware of the chilli symbols listed beside each dish as they mean serious business! The menu runs the gamut from small shareable plates all the way to serious sized mains meant to be communally shared & all at very reasonable prices (N.B. – since it is a ‘sharing’ menu & you all want to eat at the same time, you might want to make your server aware that you’d like your dishes to come out together, otherwise they will bring out one plate after another in succession. Someone at your table will be eating very early & another very late…).

Bang Bang Chicken Salad – Tongue Numbing Hot!

I opted for the Bang Bang Chicken Salad ($16.9) and made a fatal school boy error & failed to see the 2 chilli symbols listed next to the dish. A very tasty dish but after 5 minutes or so the edges of my tongue were going numb & constantly tingling…had to eat a wee bit of Hound #2’s fried rice noodles to calm things down.

Signature Fried Rice Noodles

Hound #2 really liked her Signature Fried Rice Noodles and would order again…a VERY generous serving so go when you are hungry…the table next to us had 2 MASSIVE bowls brought out in succession that would have fed a small army.

A Chop Stick Workout….

The unreal ice cream cones @ Utopia Ice Cream…worth a trip to Sumner on their own…

Cones @ Utopia Ice Cream to cool our mouths down…

Riverside Market Opens – Wow!!!

Christchurch’s New Riverside Market…

The latest addition to the constantly emerging & dynamically changing Christchurch CBD scene is the Riverside Market…and wow, what an addition! Mr. Peebles & his team have pulled out all the stops & not spared a dime or an insightful thought with this stunning creation. As reported in the Press / Stuff, the first week has seen a tsunami of folks coming in for a look & hopefully a shop. The fit out is tastefully done with a wide range of excellent character features (e.g., the timber beams, old clock, lighting) – it is a building all Cantabrians should be proud of (like our new library).

Riverside Markert Top Side View….

I have always dreamed of starting a food hall as it combines the best of both worlds for – a convenient one stop shop (like the supermarket) but with independent, quality producers (not like the supermarket). Very few folks these days have the luxury of time or the desire to run around town to all the far corners of the city to round up their food supplies. And the Riverside Market pretty much nails it out of the gate…

Top Notch Butchery – Butcher’s Mistress

The folks who appear to really be hitting their stride are all the food service joints, which at lunchtime had throngs of people queued up out the door…with some decently sized corporate offices in combination with the government sector (Justice & Emergency Services Precinct, the Police HQ and City Council) the lunch time demands should remain healthy for some time.

Little Fish Fishmonger and Fish & Chips

But I have my fingers crossed for the real food folks – I think they may have a few more hurdles to get over to make it hum like the food court guys. There are several challenges here:

(1) how many CBD folks are going to actually shop for veggies, fish, meat, etc & take them back to the office?

(2) it is an in between time of year for the veggie guys so stalls like Cultivate are a wee bit sparse on their offerings.

(3) Although one of the veggie stands was pretty fully stocked, I am not sure where all that produce came from – not a very ‘locally grown’ display or offering.

(4) Pricing – I am all for supporting locally grown vegetables but the yams were $20 a kg while I can buy them @ my Lyttelton Farmers Market for $10.

Veggies!!!

So if you have not been, please go & support this stupendous effort & keep it humming along for years to come…and take a posse of friends too & spread the wealth ;-)….

Bread & Cheese – Bohemian Bakery & Charing Cross Cheesery

An Old Favourite – Mediteranean Foods – Estupendo!

Cured – Tasty Venison Charcuterie

Mucho Places to Grab a Bite….

Top Left: Chicken Rotisserie, El Quincho – Argentine BBQ, Shaka Brothers, Riverside Kitchen